Publication date Sept 2020/ Publisher Titan
When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in her hometown, 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 realises that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the centre. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.
I always struggle to review Christina Henry novels. It’s so hard to turn my shameless fangirling into a coherent review.
As always is the case with Christina’s writing, I devoured this book in one day. The Ghost Tree gave me all the qualities I love; coming of age horror in a small town set in the 80s- I cannot get enough of these!
Told from multiple POVs we follow Lauren and narcissistic friend Miranda on a journey of self discovery whilst they navigate the minefield that is being a teenaged girl in 1985.
Mexican newcomer Officer Alejandro, his racist old neighbour Mrs Schneider, Lauren’s mother and town Mayor Touhey provide adult perspectives on life in Smith’s Hollow and the horrific dismemberment of two teenaged girls.
The small town is brimming with secrets and hand down histories of it’s foundation. This isn’t the first time a girl is murdered at the old Ghost Tree, but why are these crimes never investigated? And why does nobody remember them?
All of the characters are well told, each with a unique voice and their own objectives. One of the things I love most about Christina is the way she writes family relationships. The behaviour and changing attitudes between Lauren and her mother, grandmother and brother were so realistic and resounded well with me, I could relate to every moment and remember well my own experience as a teenager.
I’m not sure whether Lauren was naive or brave in her actions, she never seemed to be as afraid as she should be, considering the violence and dark magic surrounding her. This did make the story a little less scary, but the claustrophic small town evil vibes and residents lack of control over their own minds balanced it out.
I thoroughly enjoyed the heartbreaking origins of Smith’s Hollow, told by Lauren’s grandmother, a story within a story- one of my favourite formats.
I will always champion Christina Henry’s writing, in the case of The Ghost Tree I highly recommend to all horror lovers and YA readers, especially fans of Stranger Things.
Anyone who’s looking for an easy to read, fast paced, fun, summer spooky will not be disappointed.