The Witch Elm

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I really love Tana French, but this one was not my favorite. It took me awhile to get into and moved slower than I would have liked. I'm sad, but I know that I'll be looking out for her future books anyway. I'll support Tana no matter what because she's one of my favorite authors.
Was this review helpful?
I thought the first 75% of this book was extremely compelling and French set up a beautiful mystery. The resolution dragged a bit. The audio was very well read.
Was this review helpful?
Tana French has done it again! She is the best when it comes to crime fiction. This is her first standalone in years and it surely entertains! The characters are well-developed. The writing is strong and fast-paced. If you've never read a French novel, you'll be fine starting here, but do yourself a favor and start reading the most addictive author on the market now!
Was this review helpful?
I so wanted to love this book.  I have read all of Tana French's other novels and really enjoyed them.  I was, therefore, looking forward to this new edition to her work.  But I was sadly disappointed.  The main character, Toby, was quite depressing and not all that likable as were most of the characters. The story was drawn out, rather tedious and slow.  It seemed to be mostly dialogue going nowhere.   For me, it was a hard book to finish with a rush to wrap up an ending.  I will still check out her next novel and hope it is more on the line of her previous work.
Was this review helpful?
I tried a few times to get into this book and just couldn't, which is a real shame because I really like the Dublin Murder Squad. This one just doesn't seem like one of her best.
Was this review helpful?
What can I say, Tana French is the best in the biz, and anytime her work is published it is a revelation!  Highly recommend this one as well.  What a time to be alive when we can read such amazing fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I've read every Tana French book since her first and, while this one was good, it wasn't her best by any stretch.  I love when writers branch out from their series work, but I didn't think there was enough story here to warrant the nearly 500 page length.  It really dragged on and on.  That being said, she's an excellent writer and character builder, so it did hold my attention...it just took me far longer to complete than it should have.
Was this review helpful?
I have heard great things about Tana French, but I wish I had started elsewhere. This was slow and hard to get into and gave me no desire to see it through to the end.
Was this review helpful?
As a true crime fan with an interest in the legend of Bella in the Wych Elm, I anxiously awaited Tana French's lastest novel. I was not disappointed! I finished the book in a matter of days, reading in the car, on the train, while cooking dinner... The plot was truly character-driven, and as a reader, I found myself diving deep into the psychological workings of not only the narrator, Toby, but also his family, friends, and the detectives investigating the various crimes in the novel. While the story was certainly not a retelling of Bella in the Wych Elm, it was just as jarring and gripping, with a compelling ending and a variety of engaging characters. I will absolutely be purchasing a copy for my library and recommending The Witch Elm to friends!
Was this review helpful?
What a delightful switch up.  Although the story still has characters from the Dublin Murder Squad, Tana French uses the unreliable voice of the victim to tell this tale.  We have cons, and burglaries, violence, familial love and skewed relationships all vying for top billing in this story.  Our narrator takes us on an emotional and psychological roller coaster that often left me feeling drained. The characters are poignant, and proud. Ms. French has created a fascinating murder mystery that is jarring and filled with warmth at the same time.
Was this review helpful?
Disappointing—French’s Dublin mysteries are favorites of mine, but this doesn’t hold a candle to her Dublin series. Toby’s an interesting character, dealing with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges after the break-in. But his upper crust sensibilities and self-centeredness wear thin, especially through the pages and pages where nothing happens. His cousins seem scurrilous and Uncle Hugo a tad odd—making me suspicious early on. There are flashes of drama and eventually a mystery, but readers must endure endless descriptions and thought processes before the climax and conclusion.
Was this review helpful?
This book wasn't for me. Just not my personal taste for an enjoyable mystery and the plot didn't grab me.
Was this review helpful?
Oooooh Tana French, I love you again! This was a bit different from French, as it's the first one without a strong police procedural element. Something about a bulk of the action taking place not in the Dublin streets but in the insular world of the family home almost reminded me of one of Kate Morton's books, interestingly enough. There was so much going on with the dual mysteries of the skull in the elm tree at the same time that Toby is recovering from an unsolved home invasion, but added to that is the incredible character development and examination that only French can do, not just of Toby but of his uncle and cousins as well. And Toby is one of those super rare characters in literature that I absolutely could not stand and yet still found him (and his experience) fascinating. Honestly, two months later (as I'm writing this review) I've already partially forgotten the ending, but the reading experience was just brilliant at the time. I know it's unlikely with all the books in the world and my slowing pace of reading, but I hope one day to come back to reread this book and a few others she has written (along with some other authors, of course!) and enjoy them all over again. Perhaps in my retirement!
Was this review helpful?
I loved the characters and the way the story unfolded.  I've never read a Tana French book, but I will for sure go back and visit her books now,  Never a lull in the story, definitely kept my attention until the end.  An awesome mystery with so much going on.
Was this review helpful?
Love this book. Characters are believable. Plot started slow and now I can’t read it fast enough. Her characters are so developed. Main character has PTSD. Very realistic portrayal of PTSD. Plot definitely reads as real life.
Was this review helpful?
This book started off extremely slow and I almost gave up. I wasnt quite sure where the tree in the title came into it. The author eventually connected the dots toward the middle and then the tale picked up. However  the book took a super weird turn at the end. This wasn't one of my favorite French stories.
Was this review helpful?
I've been a fan of Tana French for a while, and although I've found one or two of her premises to be a bit of a stretch of the imagination, I've really enjoyed her work. This book was a miss for me, though. I loved the first half, but the second half devolves into a series of false endings rife with misery. Although I don't require a happy ending, to have several depressing endings in quick succession feels like emotional manipulation.

The characters that are established in the first half and the relationships between them is truly the standout feature of this book. French's exploration of the narrator's personality traits and self-perceptions through various lenses throughout is interesting. The family relationships are captivating. The situation as it unfolds throughout the first half of the book (and maybe even the first 3/4) made me want to keep reading. But then...the misery piles on to an extent that broke my immersion. I get the sense that French wanted to explore the character's interiority in response to the latter part of the plot, but it didn't work for me.

5 stars for the first half, 1.5 for the second
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is different from Tana French's other books but still very enjoyable. The story's main character is attacked at home and is hit on the head which leaves him with memory problems and a fear of living alone. He moves into the family home to join his uncle where another event leaves him questioning his memory. An interesting plot with many twists and turns. Well written and interesting in how it touches on the effects of social media and internet searches.
Was this review helpful?
I was really disappointed in this book. I have loved the Dublin Murder Squad books. I enjoyed the characters in this one, but I just didn't feel they were fleshed out enough. And the ending was awful. And what did it really have to do with how the book started.
Was this review helpful?
Toby led a charmed life until he is so severely beaten during a burglary that he is completely changed -- and if that weren't enough, his uncle is dying of brain cancer and a body is found in his uncles yard. The book evolves into a jumble of tangles, twists, secrets and lies as everybody, including the reader, struggles to uncover the truth. 

I loved the first half of the book--the way French revealed just enough to keep us guessing and wondering--but then the book kind of lost it for me. The big confession that went on and on and over explained everything and then the added twists and events toward the end that seemed just too much and didn't really make sense.
Was this review helpful?