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WesternSFA


The Ghost Tree
by Christina Henry
Berkley, $16.00, 432pp
Published: September 2020

When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith's Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.

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.

When I read the description of this novel, I was immediately intrigued.  I've read some of Christina Henry's work but not much and this book seemed like the perfect chance to read more of her work. It was intriguing, spooky, and was some of the best supernatural horror I've read in ages, reminding me of Stephen King at his best but much more streamlined.

The story starts with introducing you to Lauren. Christina Henry immediately hooks you with a compelling, engaging character who has a bit of mystery to bait you as you want to figure out what happened to her father. As the story moves along, you engage with other points of view but always return to Lauren and her need for answers. And as the mystery deepens and you learn more about why the town has moved on, the novel becomes creepier and more forbidding with the ever-present knowledge that not everyone will make it to the end alive. That kind of action is exactly what you want and expect in an excellent horror novel. Characters you root for and hope will make it out alive.

I especially like that Christina Henry uses different points of view as it enables the reader to get more information than they would if we just followed Lauren. We also get more characters to care about and more insight into the horror of the town and the happenings within. There is also some real insight into racism and hatred of the other, some moments where you see what can cause it but also how horrible it truly is. That lack of empathy and unwillingness to see other's point of view is the real danger in both large cities and small towns.

The novel kept me turning pages late into the night, the intrigue compelling me to finish so I could discover the ending of this nail biter of a story. It is complex, intriguing, and creepy in all the best ways with the use of magic and supernatural elements heightening the fear factor and the intrigue within the novel. 

If you are looking for a book to enjoy for Halloween, this is the perfect complement for the holiday, spooky, engaging, and action to the very end.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ~~ Andrea Rittschof

For more titles by Christina Henry click here

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