Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house's former tenant - a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago.
©2009 Caitlin R. Kiernan (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"[Caitlín R. Kiernan has] a gift for language that borders on the scary." (Neil Gaiman)
Many reviewers have complained about the meandering plot, lack of clear conclusion, swearing etc.
I don't like the novel because of any of these things, and yes, I usually prefer a more sympathetic main character too.
Yet the novel is worth reading if you like good writing, both in descriptions and in characterization.
I loved Lovecraft and Poe as a child, but have long since rejected the first for his laughably bad writing and see no reason to reread the second because his characters have so little depth.
In comparison to Kiernan, Stephen King spins a better plot, but I don't think a compelling plot is what Keirnan is trying to write here.
In terms of description, both literary quality and ability to convey creepiness, she writes as well -- better, I'd say -- than the best of King, and she does a better job revealing the tragedy and especially the ambiguity that lurks in relationship.
Yes, there is some sweaty sex that may titillate or disgust the reader, but the really compelling and heartbreaking thing about the novel is the portrayal of a tentative new friendship that is a shadow of hope threatened by horror.
The tension lies in wondering whether the narrator will be saved, go down with her friend, or be left even more alone in the darkness.
This is the best horror novel I've read in some time, filled with mystery, the tangled legacy of history, personal tragedy and the difficult war with one's own grief, the awful recognition of losing one's creative capabilities and seeing an inescapable tragedy approaching, and some great surprises wonderfully presented. Kiernan brings her distinctive fusion of scientific and artistic appreciation of the world to bear on this chronicle of a life's final months.
Somehow between the introspection and melancholy that I've been left with after this, I believe I've become a fan of Caitlin R. Kiernan. Enjoyable is the not quite the right word for this, but definitely compelling, the need to experience what happens next. I also appreciate the way the main narrator, really becomes the character, and even the use of several narrators.
It raises questions and leads you down paths, and then circling back...I'm searching for some green monofilament, and maybe it will lead to the conclusion somewhere. I actually listened to the last segment three times, to make sure I din't miss anything. I hadn't. I don't like to be left hanging at the end of a story, but as she says, it is fickle, and is meant to be that way. If you can handle that and what the previous reviewers have mentioned, it is worth it!
After listening to this book, I am a new fan of Ms. Kiernan. The tale is chilling in a way the creeps up and over and under the skin, taking its time but not taking too long. I finished it feeling dazed and uncomfortable, which is precisely how I like my horror. A unique and troubling read.
This book will either leave you exclaiming,WOW! Or have you scratching your head and thinking, HUH..? I'm leaning on the side of WOW! This is not a fast paced chiller-thriller. It's not supposed to be. Is it a story about a haunted tree? Well sort of. In any case, I can't get it out of my head.
Be prepared for some spine tingles with this ones folks. I have not read too many horror storues and chose this one because the author is an advocate of HP Lovecraft and I was curious to read/hear this story.
I was surprised how chilling this book was aty times - I am a mature man with a wide variety of tastes - but Caitlin R. Kiernan took me on a journey of facination, suspense and yes . . horror.
But the horror was not "in your face" . . it was well scripted around a general story of a woman who rents a remote house ... simple . .yes ? . . well no - the background is well proportioned and the build up to the moments to real terror are irresistable.
A good read - but will make you sleep with the lights on once or twice.
This book is a book of leaves. A book of layers. A dozen readings will begin to reveal it's many levels of meanings. One of the greatest pieces of "weird fiction" in the past decade, if not the last twenty-five years. Genius, and a deeply - if difficult - protagonist/narrator.
Sarah and Constance getting lost of their way to the tree.
Sarah's climactic confrontation with the attic.
I don't write tag lines for movies.
Kiernan continues to amaze and astound. Only her most recent, The Drowning Girl, surpass her work in The Red Tree. This book is a must-read!
I've really enjoyed the other novel's I've read by Caitlin Kiernan before, so I was really sad to be disappointed with this one. Overall, slow and dragging plot, and my least favorite narrator. Also, the ending didn't leave one hanging with suspense, or pondering questions of "may have been", it just....wasn't. Try again. :(
I don't mind that the character is a lesbian, or that she uses the "F" word. But this isn't a novel. It's a journal of Kiernan writing about what it's like to write when she doesn't know what to write about. There is no plot, no coherence, just a meandering stroll through the author's mind. While that would ordinarily be acceptable if the book was described as such, it is a complete disappointment for someone wanting to read a fantasy/mystery story.
Don't waste your time or money. Just read someone's blog on the internet. It's basically the same thing.
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