The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry
Publication Date: September 8th 2020 by Berkley Books
The Ghost Tree a creepy story with some magical elements, but I think this was more a coming of age story than a scary one. It felt like a Brothers Grimm sort of scary fairy tale with a curse, witches, and several gory murders. The town of Smiths Hollow doesn’t seem to register these murders for longer than a day or two.
The story is told from several points of view: Lauren an almost fifteen-year-old whose father was murdered less than a year back; a grisly murder with his heart cut out in the woods bordering the town. Yet, Lauren isn’t afraid in these woods and still longs for the days when her and her best friend Madison would meet and play at the Old Ghost Tree. Lauren and her friend Madison on in the between stage of adult and young teen, and with that transition these two best friends are growing apart. Madison’s focus is boys, hair and makeup, a pretty unlikeable, selfish character as she spent most of the book annoyed with Lauren for not going along with her plans. Lauren for her part has had enough of Madison’s bossiness.
However, Lauren’s growing concern over her relationship with her best friend takes a back seat when two girls are found murdered, an event that has magical repercussions for Lauren and her little brother David.
I liked Lauren’s burgeoning romance with Jake and her relationship with her little brother, David. Lauren’s mother also had a POV and she was unlikeable until the very end IMO. There’s a few more POVs, one I didn’t really care for: Mrs. Schneider a hateful bigot of an old lady, and then one I did like a lot: Officer Alex Lopez, a newer resident to Smiths Hollow, there with his family for a better life away from the city. He’s not as affected by the curse as the old-time residents of Smiths Hollow and therefore latches onto the mystery of the murdered girls.
I loved Christina Henry’s The Girl in Red and so I was excited to pick up The Ghost Tree. The Ghost Tree was an entirely different kind of story. It gave me a Stranger Things kind of vibe, maybe because that series is very centered on teenagers in the ’80 (same here) with weird things going on. It was an entertaining read, but I didn’t love it as much as TGiR. The story dragged for me in a few places, and I was wondering a few times where the story was going. Still, I enjoyed the story overall, and I think it would make a good creepy read for the coming Fall/Halloween season.
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.