ARC Review: And the Trees Crept In1:30:00 PM
Genre: Horror, YA, Thriller, Mystery
Published: September 6, 2016 by Little, Brown Books (US Pub date; published July 2016 in the UK under the title The Creeper Man)
Rating: ★★★★ 4/5 stars
I received this copy in advance from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead Houseauthor Dawn Kurtagich
When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?
Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.
As fall is on the cusp of arriving and the season for spooks and pumpkin spice draws nearer, what better way to kick things off than with a creepy read? Whether you’re a seasoned reader of horror or a novice just starting to read the genre, this book surely will not disappoint.
I myself am a huge fan of the horror genre, and as such it can take quite a bit to really freak me out. I don’t scare easily, but this book had some heavy imagery involving my deepest fears. I mentioned it as I read on Goodreads and Twitter, but for my whole life I have had a massive phobia of worms, maggots, caterpillars, and anything similar. If you don’t do too well with creepy crawlies of that ilk either, just prepare yourself. Among the wriggly squirmy terrors within this book, the constant plot twists and turns, coupled with the fear of the unknown and the ever-growing mystery of it all really kept me engaged as a reader. I was constantly second guessing my theories and always questioning what was real and what was not – was that scene a hallucination? Or did it really happen to the characters? You’ll be kept on your toes and left hanging at the end of every chapter.
What I loved about this book was the brand of psychological horror that came into play, and how I kept questioning everything in the plot that I thought I knew to be true. It takes quite a bit to scare me, and this book had some instances that made me want to lock my bedroom door each night and sleep with the light on. The evil force within the story was a Slenderman-type figure, tall and lanky with no face, imposing on Silla and Nori, creeping ever closer as the story goes on. But when Gowan, a stranger from the woods appears with what seems to be their salvation, things are turned on their head and the psychological element of the story really begins to come into play. Dawn masterfully weaves a story that keeps you guessing at every twist and turn. I was so darn confused about what was happening at certain points, because just when you think you have it all figured out… something changes, and you’re left guessing like crazy about what all of it will amount to. It’s hard to truly do it justice in describing it without spoiling the whole plot, but I will say that I am one of only 3 other early readers, according to Dawn, who correctly guessed the truth behind the twist ending.
The only qualms I had with the plot was the lack of development between the characters’ relationships with one another; although I realize now that it was a plot device meant to agitate and make you unsettled and realize something was amiss. It was established right off the bat that Silla and Nori were super close as sisters, and I loved that about their dynamic. However, their relationship with their aunt seemed rushed and scattered. The relationship between Gowan and Silla also seemed very nonexistent, but I loved the message of always finding one another no matter what. I understood at the end of the book why there was little or no development between the relationships of the characters, but I still wish it was there. The development of the characters themselves was spectacular, however. Silla’s downward spiral felt so real and plausible, Aunt Cath’s inevitable withdrawal was cold and unforeseeable, and Gowan was a total mystery to me.
If you’re new to the horror genre, I would certainly recommend picking up this book. It reminded me in format of Illuminae in many ways, whether it was the change of perspective or the burned book journal entry pages, or the flashbacks Aunt Cath had, right down to the skewed typeset or enlarged text. The voice was unique and the storytelling was magnificent.
While the characters’ interaction and relationships fell a bit flat, I thoroughly enjoyed the days I spent curled up in my room anxiously awaiting the end of the story when all was revealed; and when it was, it did not disappoint.