#Book Review – What Lurks in the Woods: Struggle and Hope in the Midst of Chronic Illness – N. Bell

What Lurks in the Woods is a memoir. It’s also a punch in the face.

I had vague notions about Lyme before picking up this book, and I wasn’t aware of its devastating potential. The havoc it unleashed on the Bells is painful to read. Educating, yes, but painful.


Russ and Nicole Bell were an upwardly mobile happy couple: two kids, big house, fun hobbies, marvelous life. But something wasn’t quite right—with Russ. He started forgetting things, he got lost, he became enraged, he was harsh with the kids. And he could no longer be trusted with minor responsibilities.

They visited doctor after doctor after doctor to try to determine what was wrong, to no avail. “Alzheimer’s,” they were told, but that didn’t make sense. Russ was too young for that. As the formerly brilliant engineer literally lost his mind and his self, the answer finally became clear—but was it in time?

In this beautifully written but tragic memoir, Nicole Bell documents their journey through the medical minefield as they searched for answers and treatments. This book will inspire people who are suffering from chronic, symptom-based illnesses to dig deeper, so they can find and treat the root causes of their disease before it’s too late.

250 pages
Stonebrook Publishing


Cover: Nope, sorry. The color palette doesn’t do it for me.


  • What Lurks in the Woods is the story of the Bells. Mom, Dad, two kids, a dog – a regular family living a regular life, or so you’d think. There’s something wrong with Russ, and only Nicole’s love and persistence will unveil the truth. I have to say straight away that Nicole’s dedication to her husband is commendable: she tries to help him in any way she can, figuring out what ails him and not giving up after the first doctor dismisses her concerns. Turns out she’s right. Russ has Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness.
  • Bell’s style is clear throughout the entire book. What Lurks in the Woods is written in first POV, but it doesn’t become oppressive or overwhelming like first POVs tend to do. Very good.
  • While this story made me a bit paranoid—whose kid had a scheduled school trip in the woods? Mine, hahaha *eyetwitch*—it’s very informative. It’s also heartbreaking. I’m so sorry, Nicole. You’ve got an enormous inner strength, and despite the outcome, you’ve accomplished a lot. Your pain and determination shine through the pages. I’m not sure I would have been able to keep it together like you did. Mad respect. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts.


  • What Lurks in the Woods can get a bit technical sometimes, making it hard to follow for those without a medical background. Also, the concept repetition becomes too much after a while. Nicole is an engineer, and a very successful one: repeating it over and over is unnecessary.


4 stars on GR.

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