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The Red Tree | [Caitlin R. Kiernan]

The Red Tree

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"[Caitlín R. Kiernan has] a gift for language that borders on the scary." (Neil Gaiman)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (125 )
5 star
 (28)
4 star
 (26)
3 star
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2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (30)
Overall
3.4 (53 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Story
3.8 (51 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kristen Boca Raton, FL, USA 06-15-10
    Kristen Boca Raton, FL, USA 06-15-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    166
    8
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    "Worth it for the quality of writing"


    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Portland, OR, United States 01-20-11
    Bruce Portland, OR, United States 01-20-11 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    87
    2
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    "Gripping, excellent horror"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-17-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    48
    1
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    Overall
    "Compelling experience"

    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!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexi Rain Morro Bay, CA, United States 06-01-11
    Alexi Rain Morro Bay, CA, United States 06-01-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    72
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    "A beautifully crafted tale"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Shell Beach, CA, United States 05-09-10
    Laura Shell Beach, CA, United States 05-09-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    125
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    1
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    Overall
    "Hmmm......"

    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.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 05-22-14
    Barbara 05-22-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    43
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    7
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    Performance
    Story
    "Not too shabby"
    Would you try another book from Caitlin R. Kiernan and/or the narrators?

    Yes, I might.


    What other book might you compare The Red Tree to and why?

    I'm not sure there's one that compares exactly. It has a "falling down the rabbit hole" surreal feel to it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The story about the woman on the cliff.


    Could you see The Red Tree being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No, probably not.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not scary (I feel like I write that a lot about "horror" books lately *sigh), but it is interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eirik Bergen, Norway 01-28-14
    Eirik Bergen, Norway 01-28-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    12
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good novel, horrible audiobook"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    For anyone interested in horror, I'd definitely give recommend it. I would, however, recommend that they buy it in paperback, primarily because of the godawful performances on display here.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Red Tree?

    The endless walk would have been an excellent, tense moment, if only the narrator hadn't sounded halfway through her second bottle of wine and ready to about fall asleep.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The southern drawl might only be a pet peeve of mine, but the feeling of boredom on the part of the narrator is unmistakable. If you'd drugged her half out of her mind and held up flash cards while you whacked her on the head, you might have gotten a better performance. It ruined any sense of immersion, suspense or fear, and in a horror novel those are the most important things to get right. For a different genre she might have been a good fit, but here she was either miscast or just didn't care.


    Did The Red Tree inspire you to do anything?

    Yes. Listen to samples more thoroughly before buying.


    Any additional comments?

    In all fairness, the two lesser used narrators both performed well, but it ended up only making the third one look even worse by comparison.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthur Athanassiou Brisbane, Queensland Australia 05-31-13
    Arthur Athanassiou Brisbane, Queensland Australia 05-31-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "A true "classic" horror story."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caitlin 07-10-12
    Caitlin 07-10-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Kiernan at her finest."
    Would you listen to The Red Tree again? Why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Red Tree?

    Sarah and Constance getting lost of their way to the tree.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Sarah's climactic confrontation with the attic.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I don't write tag lines for movies.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen pinjarra, Australia 06-24-10
    Karen pinjarra, Australia 06-24-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    10
    5
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    8
    Overall
    "the red tree"

    hmmm, strange, but once you start listening you have to continue to the end!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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