Author: Christina Henry
First Published: September 8, 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
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.
The Ghost Tree is such a wonderful witchy read perfect for the upcoming Halloween season. A small town is shaken by the gruesome deaths of two girls that nobody seems to know. Lauren is still dealing with the death of her father the year before, yet the people in the town seem disinterested in investigating these crimes. There’s something wrong in this small town and its dark woods.
“Terrible things happen and we just pretend everything is fine. We forget about them.”
The story is told from multiple perspectives which is effective in building the mystery and structuring character relationships. Many of the characters were one dimensional and either very innocent or disgustingly bad. There is no in-between and I really wish that there would have been more depth to some of these characters, they seemed like caricatures of common horror movie tropes. The setting takes place and in the 80s and the story is very intent of reminding the reader of that constantly with an abundance of pop culture references that became tiring very quickly. The 80s are fitting for the story, however, the major story beats remind me of the type of Halloween stories I grew up watching or reading in the 80s and early 90s.
The pacing and the town setting are good, and I felt excited the more that the mysteries of the town were unveiled. There are some genuinely chilling and gruesome moments in the story that made me pause. There was a surprising amount of sex and gore in this novel for a book where the main characters are rising high school freshmen. Overall a good page-turner that will delight readers who enjoy 80s horror flicks.
Warnings: gore, death, violence, sex, language, racism