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.
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Critic reviews

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

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kristen on 15-06-10

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.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alexi Rain on 01-06-11

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.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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