And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 6, 2016
Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Plot: La Baume is supposed to be a sanctuary for Silla and Nori, but this large manor house offers something much darker.
Review: This is a very hard book to review, and the following will have some spoilers. Stop now if you don’t want to know.
Let me give you the breakdown:
What it’s about: The story follows two sisters, Silla and Nori, who have run away from home in order to escape their abusive father and negligent mother. The only place they have to turn to is their mother’s family estate, La Baume, which is a large manor house outside of London. When the sisters first meet their Aunt Cathy (who runs the old estate), they find that both the hostess and her home are in disrepair. Cathy is flighty, and reminded be a bit of Professor Trelawney form Harry Potter. She’s just not quite there, but she’s way better that getting beaten by a drunk. The house is without technology, or means for outside communication. In spite of this, things are going well until Nori (the younger sister) goes into the Python Woods.
What’s in the woods?! A few things happen once Nori crosses the threshold:
- It awakens the Creeper Man (child nabbing demon).
- Aunt Cathy loses it and permanently locks herself in the attic, thus abandoning the girls.
- The forest starts to rapidly creep towards the estate, which leaves the girls without resources or a way to escape.
- Some random guy named Gowan shows up.
- Silla starts to lose it.
Why I didn’t *like reading it: The narrative is from Silla’s perspective, and that’s not a fun place to be. She’s a traumatized teen who is in way over her head. She won’t leave the estate, because she is convinced that the Creeper Man will kill Nori. The girls are frightened and starving. For four hundred pages. The text format becomes more and more chaotic to match pace with Silla’s decline.
Kurtagich doesn’t spare us any details about this experience either. Every hunger pain, delusion, and worm-infested slice of cake is explored… deeply. The cringe factor is pretty intense. Silla’s madness and starvation created this gaunt and twitchy character that just creeped me out. Particularly when there were love scenes between her and Gowan. Nothing will gross you out faster than a make out scene where her teeth are falling out. I basically felt uncomfortable the entire time.
The overall reading experience was sorrowful and chaotic, but I feel that was always Kurtagich’s intension. Silla’s experience is a horrible one, and Kurtagich makes a conscious decision to run readers through Silla’s grief and struggle, rather than elude to it. While there is a bit of a happy ending, it was still too much for me. The book falls more on the traumatic side, rather than the suspenseful, and that kept me from enjoying this reading experience. However, I do think that Kurtagich deserves some serious props for being brave enough to tackle such tough topics, and for her original plot work.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Who Should Snag It: Fans of horror that aren’t too gory might like this one.
*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*