Cover Image: The Ghost Tree

The Ghost Tree

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Member Reviews

When the synopsis of a book mentions bodies with hearts missing, something called a Ghost Tree, and dreams about real life monsters, I am immediately hooked. This was my first book by Christina Henry, and I was in the mood for something spooky. The Ghost Tree did not disappoint. Witchy vibes, eerie setting, haunted forest, monsters, and some downright creepy townspeople, it definitely has the makings for a fantastic October read. I recommend this one if you're looking for a quick scare.
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I was in the mood for a spooky story, and boy did this deliver. It has witchy vibes, a haunted forest, a monster, and some serious creep factor. I adore Christina Henry's books and was so excited to read another. Definitely pick up The Ghost Tree if you're looking for a unique horror.
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This is the first book I’ve read by Henry and it certainly won’t be the last. I loved all the nostalgia (I’m an 80s kid myself) that is woven in so expertly. So often it can feel like the author is hammering us with stuff “LOOK THIS IS THE 80s” and that’s just not the case here. 

There are a few aspects of the book that I wish were a little different, but overall I’m left with a sense of satisfaction. Readers will love this! Horror, suspense, and dark fantasy all combine to make this a great experience.
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The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry: Perfectly Spooky
When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith’s Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.
When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won't find the killer. After all, the year before her father's body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.
So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can't just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.
When I read the description of this novel, I was immediately intrigued.  I’ve read some of Christina Henry’s work but not much and this book seemed like the perfect chance to read more of her work. It was intriguing, spooky, and was some of the best supernatural horror I’ve read in ages, reminding me of Stephen King at his best but much more streamlined. 
The story starts with introducing you to Lauren. Christina Henry immediately hooks you with a compelling, engaging character who has a bit of mystery to bait you as you want to figure out what happened to her father. As the story moves along, you engage with other points of view but always return to Lauren and her need for answers. And as the mystery deepens and you learn more about why the town has moved on, the novel becomes creepier and more forbidding with the ever present knowledge that not everyone will make it to the end alive. That kind of action is exactly what you want and expect in an excellent horror novel. Characters you root for and hope will make it out alive. 
I especially like that Christina Henry uses different points of view as it enables the reader to get more information than they would if we just followed Lauren. We also get more characters to care about and more insight into the horror of the town and the happenings within. There is also some real insight into racism and hatred of the other, some moments where you see what can cause it but also how horrible it truly is. That lack of empathy and unwillingness to see other’s point of view is the real danger in both large cities and small towns. 
The novel kept me turning pages late into the night, the intrigue compelling me to finish so I could discover the ending of this nail biter of a story. It is complex, intriguing, and creepy in all the best ways with the use of magic and supernatural elements heightening the fear factor and the intrigue within the novel.  
If you are looking for a book to enjoy for Halloween, this is the perfect complement for the holiday, spooky, engaging, and action to the very end.
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The Ghost Tree is a tale set in the 80’s about murder, secrets, witches and a friendship that’s falling to pieces. It’s gorier than I expected and not quite as creepy as I’d  hoped. It was a pretty solid 3 star read for me and 3 stars are type of books I absolutely dread reviewing but I’ll take a stab at it . . . 

Things start off when two young women are found torn to pieces in the local bigots backyard. This is a quiet, sleepy town and this is a big deal. Or one would think so. Instead of everyone being in a huge panic screaming “LOCK YOUR DOORS THERE’S A MURDERER ON THE LOOSE!” people seem a bit “hmm, guess I better go water my lawn and mind my own damn business”. Weird, right?

Well, things only get weirder as the story moves along. 

Told from multiple POV’s the main voice that stuck out for me was that of teenager Lauren who has been having migraines and visions and finds the forest a calming place. Her father died a year earlier, a grisly victim of murder whose killer was never found. Hmm, perhaps this town isn’t so “quiet” after all. The case gets brushed under the rug as everyone moves on with their lives but Lauren can’t move on quite so easily. She has a strained relationship with her mother and her best friend has suddenly gone boy crazy so she’s having a real shit time now and I felt for her. She starts her own poking around into all of these deaths that no one seems interested in solving and what she finds is far more than she could’ve dreamed up. 

If the story had focused more on Lauren’s POV I think I would’ve enjoyed it more than I did. There’s a lot going on here and some of it is important but feels a bit underdeveloped even though the book is over 400 pages. There’s also one big reveal that read like a dark fairy tale. I love dark fairy tales but as far as this one goes I feel like it’s one that’s been told too many times. Or perhaps I’ve just read too many books or maybe I'm just too grouchy. Either way that reveal didn’t work for me. I’m also going to complain about Lauren’s love interest here because I’m me and also because I do believe she was 13 or 14 years old and he was in college (if my brain is remembering correctly) and he was at least 18 and maybe I’m just an old biddy now but that felt like too big of a gap at those ages and it bugged me.

What did thrill me were the imperfect and sometimes unlikable characters. There’s enough fiery rage, grief and assholery going around to fuel this whole cursed  town and some of these people made me crazy but in the best way because it felt realistic to coming of age and also to the situations. There were few unblemished angels here. Almost everyone (except the innocent brother & the new to town policeman) had the potential to be a bit of a cruel dick at one point or another and there’s quite a few characters who are just despicable through and through and I don’t know why but I enjoyed that type of character honesty in this story even if some of them aggravated and upset the hell out of me at times! I'm looking at you Miranda (kiddo don't let boys ruin your self esteem) and also at you Mrs. IForgotYourNameButYour'reAnEvilBigot.

I guess I’m going with a 3.5 and I hope that rating matches my words.
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I have enjoyed Henry's Alice series and was eager to delve into this.  It did not disappoint and was haunting.
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The setting of this book, Smith's Hollow, is excellent and helps build a fun story.  It's always so interesting when a town/setting almost serves as a character itself... because Smith's Hollow just exudes this ominous and weird feeling.  You can tell the town has secrets of its own.  And throw in a grandmother and her ancient tale to the mix and you've got yourself quite a story!  Did I mention it's the 80s and there are loads of coming-of-age vibes?  So... even more bonus points, right?!
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2021 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2021/02/2021-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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**3.5-stars**

The town of Smith's Hollow has suffered quite a few tragedies over the years. The eerie part is, no one seems to remember. When two girls from out of town are found slayed in a backyard, literally cut to pieces, it does grab everyone's attention. At least momentarily.

Lauren has grown up in Smith's Hollow and now, just shy of her Freshman year in high school, she begins to sense something is severely wrong with their quiet town. For one thing, her father was murdered in the woods just last year. His heart cut out of his body.

When she hears about the murdered girls, she doesn't hold much hope for the police finding the culprit. They never solved her Dad's murder. Everyone just seemed to move on, but Lauren remembers and she wants to get to the bottom of it.

The thing I loved the most about this story was the atmosphere. The setting of Smith's Hollow, that eerie small town vibe where you can instantly tell something is off. Additionally, I found Lauren to be a likable character and the relationships within her family were interesting.

Since her father passed, her mother has been struggling and seems to take a lot of her frustrations out on Lauren. Nothing she ever does is right, her mom is always nagging at her. Then there is Lauren's little brother, Danny, who she loves dearly, but he's a strange kid. He seems to know things he shouldn't and he says the oddest things.

When Lauren begins to have visions as well, of a horrible monster and the murdered girls, she starts to investigate. What is going on in Smith's Hollow and what is her connection to it? Her first stop is her Grandmother's house and boy, does she have a tale to tell!

There's witches, there's curses, there are sacrifices that need to be made. Lauren sees it as her job to put an end to the madness. Along with a friendly policeman, a cute next-door neighbor and a roving reporter, Smith's Hollow had better watch its back.

Throughout this story I was reminded of other stories. I felt Sawkill Girls, Strange Grace, The Devouring Gray and The Wicked Deep all rolled into one. It was fun, I'm glad I read it. I love how Christina Henry's mind works, but this isn't my favorite of her books.

Lauren's best friend, Miranda, drove me batty. I was hoping she would be the first victim, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Also, there were some subplots I wasn't as interested in and I found those portions dragging for me. I think I could have enjoyed it a lot more if those had been shaved back a bit, including the racist neighbor.

Overall, this is a solid story. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy a dark atmosphere with some gruesome deaths steeped in mystery.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I adore Christina Henry and will continue to pick up anything else she writes!
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I was really excited to read this book but it ended up being kind of disappointing. It’s pitched as horror but it never raised my pulse in the slightest. I think this might have been better revived if it was placed in fantasy, since that seems to match quite a bit more. 
Additionally, the end of this novel didn’t wrap up well for me unfortunately. First, the tiki torch racism felt extremely out of touch when we currently live in the racist hellscape we do. Blaming all of the racism on a magical curse just felt ... kinda weird? Especially after the attempted coup on the Capitol this past week. 
Secondly, the ring being something that Lauren won at Skeeball and then used to defeat the monster felt a little too easy and was introduced too late in the story to be believable. It felt rushed and random.
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I rated the Ghost Tree by Christina Henry three out of five stars. I received this in e-format from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Ghost Tree brings the reader to Smiths Hollow, where people- in particular- young girls are going missing. However, no seems to remember this is happening. It is not until two girls are found murdered in a community members yard that the community realizes they have a problem on their hands. To add to the mystery, Lauren, a young girl in Smiths Hollow still coping with the death of her father, is experiencing crazy visions and dealing with a very intuitive younger brother, while also trying to navigate young love and the distance teen years wedge in friendships.
The description of this book is what drew me to it. It sounded supernatural, mysterious and intriguing, however, I felt it was lacking. There were parallel stories going on which culminated in them coming together, however, I felt it fell short in concluding why people were missing and what the townspeople may or may not know. The book was not short of creepiness as well as blood and gore, however, at times it felt like there was not enough buildup in the suspense and the story at times was lost on Lauren and her coming of age, rather than the supernatural elements I thought the book would focus on. To say the least, it was very anticlimactic. However, I would recommend the book to those seeking a little supernatural thrill or some blood and gore, mixed with mystery.
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The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry is a moody, creepy horror novel told mostly from the teen female protagonist's point of view (although we do hear from other's as well). As a horror enthusiast, I appreciate getting to hear the story through the eyes of a teenage girl and that we were not bombarded with unnecessary sexual content. 

Once I started reading the story, I could not stop and was surprised by the length (400+) of the novel. It didn't seem as if it was 400+ pages. I would note however that the back story of the witch and curse, could have been shortened a little. I did not enjoy the historical story line as much as present day.  

Lastly, I wasn't sure if this book was a teen horror novel or intended for an adult audience. I think it would be appropriate for both audiences but I was unsure of the intent. As a librarian, I would recommend it to teens looking for horror as well as adults.  Although bloody scenes and vague sexual references, language and content is appropriate for a range of readers.
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The Ghost Tree would be a great read for a young adult who was interested in a horror novel and okay with descriptions of gore. A young woman and her crush solve the mystery of why there are so many deaths for such a small town.
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I loved this compelling coming-of-age tale about two girls with a lifelong friendship, and the things that happen to them during their young years in the 80s. Small towns in horror stories are some of my favorite settings, and Henry pulls that trope off well here in my opinion - I felt the seclusion, the small-minded ness, the danger of the witch's curse.
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The premise of this book had me hooked instantly. Dead girls, a weird town, a ghost tree.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this book. I’ve read other Henry books and absolutely loved them, but this one didn’t work for me. I liked Lauren and the story was okay but the adult scenes just seemed off to me. Even the like-able adults read like they were written by a 15 year old. I also felt it moved too slow and the ending was super predictable.
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It's the summer of 1985, and freshman-to-be Lauren is slowly separating from her lifelong best friend, Miranda. Miranda's boy crazy and determined to spend her summer finding an upperclassman with a nice car to take her to school in the fall. Meanwhile, Lauren's dealing with her antagonistic relationship with her mom, which has only gotten worse since Lauren's dad was brutally murdered last November. When the brutal murder of two girls comes to their small town, Lauren's determined to find the connection to her dad, though just about everyone else in town is having trouble remembering... well, anything to do with either crime.

This is an excellent mix of supernatural and all-too-human horror, wonderfully told. The small-town life, the trials of teenagehood... it all rings true and marries perfectly with the cursed story of the town. Highly recommended.
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This horror story had its ups and downs and although I did enjoy it. I don't think that I would buy a copy of this one.  This is not a young adult novel!  Although some of the characters are young adults this novel is adult!   Going into this one I didn't know that.  Which I think could have been part of my issue.  I generally have love hate relationships with adult novels.  I think that if you enjoy this kind of story that you might like this one. I would say try it from the library first and see if you love it.
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Smith's Hollow is a weird little town. Two girls are brutally murdered and no one seems to be able to wrap their brain around it. They all seem to just be able to move on and forget it.

Lauren lives there with her over anxious mother and younger brother Danny. She starts realizing that no one cares about those girls and then discovers that every single year a teenage girl is murdered...but no one remembers it.

Okay...so this book is kinda over the top cheesy horror. I get that. You have to go with it if you are going to enjoy the story. I did not mind that. Other little stuff bugged my socks off.
Like the 80's references.


I didn't need a time period reference every few minutes.

The book isn't horrible. It just seemed to me like it was trying to be so many different things that it lost some of the magic. Stick with the basics people. You do not have to through in every dang current rage.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.
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I usually like horror reads and I do like the authors alternate take on fairy tale retellings, but The Ghost Tree was a little lackluster. I found the worldbuilding she created to be adequate and the mystery to be uneventful. The characters were mediocre and leaning towards “I couldn’t care what happens to you”. Overall, The Ghost Tree was a very unexcitable and non terrifying horror read.
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It was so nice to see a coming of age story with a female protagonist! This was a quick read because I was invested in the main character’s journey and couldn’t put it down. There were some twists that I didn’t see coming, as well as some that I did. The final full reveal was well done.
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