My rating: 3 of 5 stars to Dawn Kurtagich‘s And the Trees Crept In, a suspense and horror novel that at points I wanted to give a 5, but at others, a 1. It was insanity wrapped up in a bowl of champagne (pure delight which I love) spoiled by mushrooms (the devil’s lurid food which I ate) and so forth. I settled on a 3… but not convinced of it.
Silla and Nori show up on their aunt’s doorstep far away from their parents’ home, claiming their mother sent them for a visit. Aunt Cath finds it strange and worries that “he’ll never let them leave,” thus beginning the horror and suspense. As time progresses, Cath begins to go crazy and the trees that surround the house (initially hundreds of feet away) start creeping closer day by day. They hear voices. They see ghosts. They fear World War 3 has begun. The mail stops. And then it gets even crazier… Cath tells them the “Creeper Man” has come back, but then she disappears to the attic where she paces the floor nightly. Suffice to say… nothing is what it seems, and the crazy continues until the last twenty pages when it all comes together. But the path there is quite confounding and elaborate. <>
The story is compelling. Two little girls frightened by either their imagination or something dark and real. But it happens every generation, just as it did to the girls’ mother and aunts. With each page, you feel the drama exploding and you are very intensely interested in what’s real and what’s blurry. You will definitely be drawn in by the characters and the plot.
Too little is left out. Until the end, you really don’t know the time frame of the story. Once you realize they are talking about World War 3, you realize it’s in the future, but uncertain how far. You know it’s in England, as they reference London a few times, but no real knowledge other than that. I believe it’s intentional, but I think it could have been done in a more clear way.
The formatting alters too frequently. Sometimes you are reading journal entries, sometimes you are reading narrative. The voice changes as character views change. I understand it’s intentional, and necessary in order to keep some of the story’s secrets, but I feel like it could have been done in a stronger way. For example (without giving away any secrets), more about what happened to the original young sisters should have been more dramatic, scary and eventful. We knew something happened, but not exactly what it was. If it had been more intense, the impact on the newer generation could have been more dramatic instead of erratic. Drama and suspense coming from reality is far more scary than something you know will end up being “made up.”
I found myself skimming the middle section a bit. It got repetitive. The editor should have cut about 25% of the middle to make room for true action and scare, instead of the over-use of the same words and dreams. It would have propelled the story much more, and likely created even more of a fear-factor. That said, it is still an interesting read, worth a gander for those who are fan of a mega twist, fear and the past-come-back-to-haunt-you. But go in with open eyes as you will read the same words over and over again until the point you need to word-vomit. I think that’s a new term… 🙂