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Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry


 I naturally turn to books that have the potential of keeping me up at night just as soon as the weather cools down, and Fall arrives. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I think I loved it so as a child (and still do today) because it was the unofficial kick off to the countdown towards my birthday in November, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, as an adult, it's less about the build up of excitement for those holidays and more of a nesting thing. I also love to watch paranormal shows, and October is definitely the time for those to pop up everywhere. My DVR works overtime to record everything I can't possibly watch during the week. I also love to watch the Halloween baking shows on Food Network, too...which lead directly to the winter holiday baking shows! 

Onto the review. I realized as I was reading the author's bio in the back of the book that I had read Christina Henry before, and liked what I'd read. I read the first of her Black Wing series years ago, and enjoyed it enough to want to read the rest of the series. But did I?  Nope. Going on my list. What I like about Christina's writing is that she gives enough horror to make you uneasy and get you sucked into the plot, but not so much that you're grossed out. I like to read scary books, but not books where there's so much gore illustrated. Yes, there is some gore in this book, but I can handle it because it doesn't go over the top and we're not lingering over it for pages. 

Lauren and Miranda are fifteen, and have always met under the ghost tree in the woods surrounding their town of Smiths Hollow, about an hour or so away from Chicago. Their friendship is going through a rough patch, since Miranda is all about boys, and Lauren is lagging behind. One day in June, they're together in the woods, and swiftly leave so Miranda can meet a few boys in town. Lauren's not interested, but goes anyway. She's got a migraine coming on-so strong that she gets sick in the alley behind the arcade and decides to grab her bike from the woods and get home. But this migraine is different-she sees a horrifying vision of two young women being killed in the woods, by something that is not human and not a wild animal. Something that leaves the girls in pieces. When Lauren reaches her bike, she notices something terrible: a bloody handprint on her bicycle seat. A handprint that looks human, but not quite. 

Sheriff Alejandro Lopez receives a call that there are remains in a neighbor's back yard. When he arrives, he sees a terrible sight: bits and pieces of two young women, with their heads next to each other. He's recently moved his family to Smiths Hollow from Chicago, and thought he'd left this kind of violence behind. Trying to coordinate an investigation, he notices how everyone around him seems to be forgetting all about these murders. The Police Chief isn't doing anything to find out who these victims are, and Alejandro himself struggles to write down every detail he can remember. Why are people acting like nothing happened? 

There's so much more that happens, and I can't tell you more without giving a lot away. Let's just say Smiths Hollow is not an ordinary town, and something terrible has been taking place for decades--and Alejandro and Lauren are two keys to unlocking the mystery, and stopping the monster that stalks the town. 

At first, I will admit, I struggled to concentrate enough to get through the first few chapters. But I finally sat down Saturday and read a chunk and was hooked. I will definitely read more of Christina Henry's novels. Folks who like horror novels will definitely enjoy this book. There is some blood and blech moments, but they are short and not so horrible I was grossed out or had to put the book down. 

Rating: 4/6 for a spooky, entertaining read about a cursed town, a monster in the woods, and a young girl who may be the only hope to break the curse. You'll love Lauren and her little brother, David-they are quite the pair. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 


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