GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Double Book Review: The Ghost Tree Reviewed by Christina Henry | I Smell Sheep

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Double Book Review: The Ghost Tree Reviewed by Christina Henry

The Ghost Tree 
by Christina Henry
September 8, 2020
Publisher: Berkeley
ISBN: 9780451492302
When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won't find the killer. After all, the year before her father's body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.

So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can't just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.

Reviewer: Bianca Greenwood
Five Sheep

Set in idyllic small-town Illinois, Ghost Tree is a delightfully whimsical horror novel that captures both the imagination as well as the mid-1980s North American teen zeitgeist. Henry has managed to craft a tale that is equally gruesome as it is whimsically tender. 

Lauren DiMucci, not quite 15, is set to start high school in the fall. On the cusp of womanhood, Lauren still clings to childhood and the ghost tree, her favourite secluded location in the woods. Lauren and best friend Miranda have spent their younger years adventuring in a wood that keeps their childish secrets. But when Miranda becomes more interested in boys with Camaros than traipsing through the woods, Lauren is confronted with forging her own identity apart from, and even in spite of, Miranda. Lauren is also increasingly estranged from her single mother Karen, and so when gruesome happenings occur in the small town – happenings Lauren feels strangely connected to – she’s left floundering. 

I adored this book from start to finish. As a child of the 80s, it transported me to a time that was simultaneously more simplistic and trying. I enjoyed watching Lauren’s transformation and the hints of strength that start as a whisper and end with a roar. Henry has an adept ability to embed contemporary sentiment and controversy in all her novels, regardless of setting. For example when Lauren wonders, “How come boys can bang all the girls they can find and they’re practically given a trophy for it, but girls are called sluts and everyone talks about them?” So while the countless tropes and pop culture references cement the story as an 80’s coming of age horror, there’s no mistaking this is a tale with contemporary appeal. This is an imaginative story involving curses, secrets, and murder, but also bigotry and misogyny. 

The Ghost Tree is the perfect summer read. The fantastic story and colourful characters kept me entranced throughout. It is terrifying at times, however, Henry’s descriptions, of gore even, are beautifully crafted. I could find nothing indicating this is part of a series, but am hopeful there’s a sequel planned for Lauren. 

Reviewer: Pamela K. Kinney
I gave The Ghost Tree 4 sheep.

Lauren DiMucci lives in Smith’s Hollow with her mother, Karen, and little brother, David. Odd things have been happening in the town for a long, long time. Like her father had been found near the ghost tree a year before, his heart torn out. And yet, Lauren feels peaceful and comfortable in the woods near the ghost tree, unlike everyone else. Her best friend, Miranda has been going a different direction than her and getting boy crazy. Meanwhile, Lauren is not interested in boys and rides her bike everywhere, well almost not interested, until an older boy shows interest in her and she realizes she might be interested in him as more than a longtime friend. But then she learns of a neighbor, the widow Mrs. Schneider, who discovers bloody parts of two dead girls. This is just the beginning of terrible murders like this, that people seem to forget, except a new policeman, Alejandro “Alex” Lopez, who begins to research through files in the basement no one ever goes to.

A Y.A. horror novel that isn’t just about a normal serial killer, but a monster, curse, and witches, seemed like a modern day fairy tale and was interesting and dark. But unlike fairytales of the past, we have complex human problems of teenagers and adults, with a special little boy who seems to know what is happening. So, if you enjoy fairytales, the paranormal, magic, and scary monsters, and don’t mind some teenage angst thrown in, The Ghost Tree will fill the bill for a great autumn read.

About the Author:
CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS (Ace/Roc) series featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle. She is also the author of the forthcoming dark fantasy ALICE (Ace Trade).

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

1 comment: