Written by: Dawn Kurtagich
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult/Horror
A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead House author 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.
“At least with my father, the danger was out in the open. I knew what to expect. But Auntie Cath is a different kind of dark altogether. The worst kind. The kind made from love.”
Most of you may know that I am a big horror film, much to the Rogue’s dismay. I grew up watching Hammer films and fell in love with Argento. I was the girl who watched the slasher flicks, always had a King, Barker, or Koontz book in hand and could not wait for Halloween (haunted houses for the win). I was looking for something spooky to read for October. The cover looked delicious (though less creepy than the Creeper Man version of the book) and I thought I would give it a go.
In the middle of the night Silla runs away with her little sister Nori. Escaping from their abusive father, they arrive at their Aunt Cath’s home hoping for refuge. La Baume, the Blood Manor, is where her mother and her sisters grew up. It sounds like the prefect sanctuary, tucked far into the woods, and far away from London and all of the dangers that the city still holds. Only Aunt Cath is left, but she welcomes them with open arms. For a time, Silla and Nori laugh and smile again. They are safe.
There are few rules other than ‘Do not go into Python Woods alone’. Keep Nori safe from the ‘Creeper Man’. Eventually, whispers of war reach their little haven. La Baume is off the grid and they are isolated by the woods so they should be okay. But then the food begins to run out and the garden begins to die. Everyone from the nearby village on the other side of the woods flees until they are truly all alone. Nori has a new friend only she can see. And dear Aunt Cath slowly loses her warmth and her sanity until one day she retreats to her room upstairs and never comes back down.
La Baume is no longer the magical sanctuary that Silla thought it was. It has become a cursed prison. The woods are no longer enchanted. Something lurks within them, keeps them trapped. The Creeper Man will not let them leave. Now, ever so slowly, the woods have crept closer and closer to their home. Soon the Creeper Man will be upon them.
Things I liked: Silla is an interesting character. She tries so hard and is willing to do anything to protect and save her little sister. I thought the author had a clever way of showing how much Silla’s mind is deteriorating. The little notes, the changes in font, and the visual craziness. You can feel her fear, her anger, and perhaps even a bit of her crazy. However, sometimes the disjointed writing style was a little too jarring. Like I said, I appreciate using varied fonts, design, and such to show Silla’s descent into madness, but at times there was too much. It felt contrived and forced. I am curious about the audio version of the book. Anyone listen to it? I wonder how they managed those bits.
The Blood Manor is a great secondary character. I saw the bright kitchen begin to deteriorate, the dust begin to build up, the shelves begin to empty and the mold to set in. I saw the house’s long hallways, heard its creaks, and imagined how something so inviting could turn so imposing. I watched it fall and it was so sad. Also snakes in the toilet. Ewww!
Its creepy, but not horrific. But I think this is a good thing. It’s more of the creeping psychological horror rather than a boogey man story. This means it is a slow burn with the story. It’s a good read (enough that I have Dead House on order), but not fantastic. There was something missing for me that made it truly great.
Things I didn’t like so much: At times the novel is bit convoluted at times and confusing as well. The whole premise of WWIII about to arrive, the reasons for the full isolation is never fully realized. So I asked a lot of questions that never really get any answers, or save the big plot holes. There were times when I was genuinely confused on how much time had passed, why they hadn’t ventured into the neighboring village sooner, etc. Perhaps that was the point. Silla did not seem to know and perhaps we were supposed to get sucked up into her confusion and madness.
While I liked the ending, I almost needed a movie flashback to when the end really happened. I needed a The Others moment and I didn’t quite get that. Like I said the book was good, a nice quick disturbing little read, but I wanted a bit more than what I got. Still, this was my first taste of Dawn Kurtagich and I would like to read more of her work.
Buy or Borrow: Buy. Or at least pick it up from the library. An interesting concept and executed fairly well.
Part of: Standalone.
Also Recommended: For more young adult horror try the following: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, The Book of Blood and Shadow by robin Wasserman, or any early stuff by Christopher Pike.
3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks