Cover Image: The Devil's Tree

The Devil's Tree

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Member Reviews

Oh wow 🤩! I liked this book a lot! It didn’t take me too long to read this story. I feel like it should be a ya horror book. I  had mixed emotions during reading this story.
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I received a complimentary copy of The Devil’s Tree from NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Great paranormal book!  I haven’t read any quite so original in a while.  I enjoyed the characters, the spooky historic storyline of a poor scorned mother; an evil, haunted tree; the dynamics of friendships that forge across economic class and racial barriers.
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Kaitlyn Karly and her boyfriend, Hunter McMaster, are out with Kaitlyn’s best friend, Keisha Richards, and Hunter’s best friend, Dylan Anderson, who are a couple. The plan is to drive down to the edge of town where Dylan plans to shoot photos of a supposedly haunted tree called Devil’s Tree for a local magazine.

A ghostly presence chases them from the tree, and the bodies of Keisha and Hunter are found by the townsfolk. However, the funeral is not the end. Kaitlyn and Dylan begin to be haunted by the ghosts of an utterly frightened and subdued Hunter and an angry Keisha, both far removed from their personalities in life.

Kaitlyn appeals to Fr Eduardo Alvares, the Catholic priest who officiated at the funeral. At first, he doesn’t believe her, and refuses to get involved. Later he tries to help them, and suffers a setback himself. Now Kaitlyn and Dylan have to do what they can to bring peace to their dead friends. Leaving their dead-end town and heading out to college isn’t an option, not unless their friends are at rest.

Finding answers will mean spending time together. Strangely, a nerd like Dylan has begun to evoke strange feelings in Kaitlyn but the ghost of Keisha has already warned her to stay away from him.

For Kaitlyn, living in a trailer with an alcoholic single mother, getting away from town is the only way out. But will they find a way to bring peace to their friends or will they be the next to die.

 

The book is written in the first person PoV of Kaitlyn. The writing was good, but not quite what I’d come to expect of the genre. There was too much of romance eating into the facetime that should have rightly belonged to the horror genre. I would have liked this book even more if the romance had been toned down, or if Dylan and Kaitlyn had begun to date each other towards the end.

At first I didn’t take to Kaitlyn, but gradually I began to like her. She turned out to be a strong character who got over her challenges and grew to embrace her strengths. The loyalty she displayed towards her friends was a good character trait.

There were few characters in the book but most of them stood out. Only Dylan’s dad seemed to be unbelievable in his snobbishness. Among the minor parts, Kaitlyn’s mother’s character was particularly well written.

The townspeople turned out to be a character. Their refusal to accept Hunter who hailed from a respectable family and Kaitlyn, as also the opposition they had to white Dylan dating black Keisha was an obstacle that loomed through the book.

Every time the author wanted to talk about something disgusting, she came up with a roach analogy, and truly, there is nothing more disgusting than a roach.

I liked the way the book made itself relevant to today’s times by talking about issues such as racism,  hatred and forgiveness in the face of judgement and prejudice. It also makes a case for acceptance of homosexuality.

Another thing I liked about this book was the total lack of foul language. She even made the horror and the dread evoked by the demon appear believable without having to use cuss words. So many books nowadays can’t seem to get a sentence out without using bad language.

Kaitlyn’s arc was well written, and I liked the ending and the message it carried. I especially liked the fact that her mother’s issues weren’t magically resolved.

 

 

There were only a few errors. The father was saying something and other statements like these with the words, the father, as the subject should have been changed to the priest.

In Chapter 9, Kaitlyn makes a reference, give a confession. It should be make a confession.

Why the funerals are held in the Catholic Church isn’t explained in a believable manner. The fact that Dylan’s dad is willing to foot the expenses is insufficient explanation as neither Hunter nor Keisha are Catholics.

All in all, a good book. Not too scary, just the way I like it. A ghost story tempered by hope and redemption.
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(Closer to 2.5 stars.)

This book is, to put it simply, the literary version of a "B-movie" in the (mild) horror genre mixed with a made-for-TV romance from the early 2010s. It toes the line between cringe-inducing cliche and genuine entertainment while playing hopscotch on a lot of common tropes - some fine and some... troubling. That is to say: it's basically what you'd expect from what I described.

Just like "B-movies," it handles matters of poverty, race, identity, and sexuality with all the care of a wild animal set loose in a room full of priceless, breakable items. While I did try to look beyond some of the less pleasant tropes - mostly because they're extremely prevalent in the horror genre - these issues did leave varying degrees of lingering, bad impressions.

I keep trying to articulate some of the worst issues, but a list is easier and I'm kind of mentally drained for reasons unrelated to this book (welcome to 2020's sequel, right?). So here we go:

* The black character, Keisha, dies first. Nobody is surprised, since this book is basically trying really hard to be a horror movie. (But still, it's a bad trope!)

* People living in trailer parks and surviving through the aid of welfare money are shamed intensively by the narrating character, Kaitlyn.

* Keisha's struggles with racism and being in an interracial relationship while living in a small town are explored not as part of her character but rather as something for her white friend, Kaitlyn, to gawk at, pity, and awkwardly attempt to relate to after she's been killed.

* The "I don't like this person at all, but wow they get the hormones flowing, maybe I do like them after all... eew gross of course I don't... wait maybe I do..." trope plays heavily in this book, to the point I found it sickening. Kaitlyn is basically a tsundere at several points in the book.

* A possessed teenager is used to taunt a gay man, implying that because he's gay he'd automatically be interested in the seventeen-year-old. I get that it's a "demons are gross" moment, but the implication is messed up and a very harmful misconception present in society. The book would have been better without this scene.

* Keisha is turned into a catty, jealous brat as a ghost. I'd pretend to be surprised, but that attitude is a common trope applied to black women/girls in media.

* Kaitlyn frequently compares her experience as a white girl in a trailer park to those of minorities facing bigotry - all while patronizingly pitying them and waxing poetic about what a good, non-bigoted person she herself is, and virtue signaling how much she feels for their struggles.

* Kaitlyn belittles Dylan - allegedly one of her friends - for being unattractive... until, of course, he takes his glasses off and magically becomes hot. (Yay for driving home the negative association for people with glasses?)

Those are just the questionable tropes. The standard fare for horror, YA, and romance are also peppered throughout in large quantities, making this (very slightly) unique story feel as if I've read and/or seen it a million times. That's a shame because quite a few of the story elements are fascinating or entertaining but the excess tropes and a completley unlikable, terrible person as the narrating character ruin the book for me.

Kaitlyn is the kind of two-faced, judgmental, self-centered person I actively avoid in real life. She thinks she's somehow better than other people who live in trailer parks (and the south in general), has horrible judgmental opinions of even the people she allegedly likes, and can't quite grasp that her life experiences as a straight, white girl will never be the same as those of minorities who face bigotry. (And don't even get me started about her virtue signaling!)

And you know what else? She's a crappy friend, too! At one point, Kaitlyn insults a friend for offering financial assistance so she can grieve the loss of her boyfriend and cites refusing to "accept handouts" like her mother who gets welfare (which, by the way, also goes to her since she's a teenage dependent). She even has the disrespectful audacity to demand the best friend of her dead boyfriend stop using the nickname she outright admits he liked just because her selfish butt doesn't like it - and she doesn't ask nicely, either; she yells and scolds as if it were a slur or something instead of a nickname. It's just 'Hunt' instead of his full first name of 'Hunter,' not something demeaning like 'Shnookie Wookie Pookie BooBoo Child.'

This doesn't set well with me at all, and the constant whining of Kaitlyn made me want to drop a clue-by-four on her so many times that it took away from the enjoyment of the book. Likewise, every time Kaitlyn went on a tangent about her virtues vs. the racism around her or started being a whiny brat, I wanted to put the book down and walk away.

I didn't pick this book to read some fictional white girl be a mouthpiece for the experiences of a black character killed off in the first few moments of the story. (If that's the focus of the story, maybe don't kill the black character and instead let her tell her own story!) Nor did I pick it to read the illogical hot-and-cold thoughts of a girl who berates her dead boyfriend's best friend for wearing glasses, being intelligent, being less attractive, and having 'nerdy' interests yet also gets inappropriately "hormonal" (the tacky term used in the book) when he simply touches one of her legs while offering emotional support. All of this comes with a bunch of cliche Southern-isms peppered in for good measure. You know the kind: ludicrous analogies spoken by stereotypes on TV but only rarely, if ever, used by us in real life. (“You’re three gallons of crazy in a two-gallon bucket, Dylan Anderson, you know that, right?”)

I rolled my eyes in annoyance at a few scenes, but at others I found myself drawn to the story and eager to discover what might happen next. I vaguely felt sorry for Kaitlyn's lot in life, then I wanted to smack her for being a terrible person. And it would be fair play, since she thinks it's okay to smack the guy she likes-but-denies-liking hard for simply smiling at the very same quote I shared in the previous paragraph. So yeah. It was a bit of a rollercoaster getting past the narrator and obnoxious tropes to actually enjoy the story.

Like I said: it has the same traits as a B-movie. It's annoying but also entertaining with mediocre but not terrible writing. The plot is just slightly unique enough to keep interest, but the ending isn't worth the mental exhaustion caused by trudging through Kaitlyn's headspace and the lore is... questionable at best.

I hoped for so much better from this book and honestly feel quite let down. Were it not for wanting to make progress toward my reading goal, I'd have quit reading this one midway or sooner. I definitely wish I'd quit reading before the final chapter, which takes an already unsatisfying ending and amps it to eleven. I'm disappointed, because the story this book tells could have easily been a perfect match for me. But alas, it just wasn't meant to be.

(Note: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. The review is made voluntarily and contains my own, personal opinions. I am not compensated for sharing this review.)
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Experienced readers of horror fiction will probably know what to expect with this one, but Susan McCauley does a wonderful job with the material in this early work of hers.
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Kaitlyn, Hunter, Dylan and Keisha are going to photograph the devil tree.  After this, they are having a car accident and only 2 survive and they are going to find out what happend to the ghost of the tree. Spooky story.
Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.
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Don't pee on cursed trees. Maybe if Kaitlyn's boyfriend hadn't done that, the whole plot of this book wouldn't have happened. I love horror novels, but this one fell flat. Kaitlyn isn't a sympathetic character and for most of the plot I felt like it was something I'd already read in the 80s because it was such run of the mill horror stuff. The book has a strong message and it spells it out word for word, multiple times. This one definitely wasn't for me.
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The first time I started reading this book, I had to put it down and go somewhere else. I'd made the mistake of trying to read it in the middle of the night and ended up spooking myself out. Which is kind of funny because this book really isn't all that terrifying. Not enough to induce nightmares or anything of the sort. I picked this up from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and I have to say - I thought this book was very well-written. 

It's a young adult horror/thriller/mystery and it delivers. 

Kaitlyn is a fairly typical teenager stuck in a small town - wants to leave the trailer park and small town life behind for bigger and better things; and she wants to do it all with her boyfriend Hunter. As such in just about every place you go, there's a haunted something where people die if they come too near, or the spirit that inhabits said 'something' is known to come after those who mess with them. In this case, there's a haunted tree that everyone knows is evil. Most are pretty smart enough not to come near it, you know, just in case every single tale ever told just so happens to be true. But as a lot of teenagers can be on a Saturday night with nothing to do in their small little world, Kaitlyn and her friends have gone to the tree, to the Devil's Tree, to kill some of their boredom. 

Bad idea, right? After Hunter and Keisha are killed, it's up to Kaitlyn and Dylan to find out what happened, why it happened, and how they can essentially fix things. I won't delve further into the book since I want others to read it -- but I recommend reading this book if you're looking for something new to read. It's a very good book written for the genre that it's aimed that and it's not so scary that you'll be needing to read it in a setting that is in no way going to add to the creeped out feeling. 

I really liked the backstory that was written in for Agatha. I didn't think I could feel so bad for a spirit who did so much evil, but I did. I was really surprised at the turn this book took; I was full on expecting something you'd see in the movies with exorcisms and more killing - and in the end, she'd show back up to prove that she couldn't be killed. That type of thing. The fact that is pretty different in that format should already be enough to entice someone to pick this up.
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Kaitlyn and Hunter are going out with Dylan and Keisha to photograph a tree.  Dylan wants to end the myth of the “devil tree.”  Kaitlyn doesn’t believe in ghosts but doesn’t want to go there.  Hunter, her boyfriend talks her into going.  While Dylan takes picture, a ghostly witch appears.  Running back to Hunter’s truck, they all get in and Hunter drives out immediately.  Thinking that it safe, Kaitlyn doesn’t understand why he is driving so fast.  When Hunter sees the ghost, he ends up not making the cure of the road and drives into a tree.  The Only Dylan and Kaitlyn survive the rash.  Hunter and Keisha died.  When Dylan wants to go back to the tree, Kaitlyn says no.  Will she go back?  Dylan and Kaitlyn want to find a way to save Hunter and Keisha from the tree.  Can they?

The novel is written a harrowing plot.  It is a fast-paced atmospheric story that vibrates with tension and suspense. It is well-told scary story.  I enjoyed seeing how Dylan and Kaitlyn worked together trying to free Hunter and Keisha from the tree and witch.  I was surprised by how enthralled with this novel..  The novel is a mix of horror, mystery and romance.  I hope to read more of the author’s work.
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This was Susan McCauley's debut novel, and it's honestly pretty good. It was a perfectly creepy ghost story. Truthfully I wish the book had been longer! This had so much potential to be longer and much more suspenseful. I wanted more of Kaitlyn and Hunter's relationship before the accident. I wanted more of Dylan and Kaitlyn's growing feelings for each other. I loved Agatha the ghost's haunting story, but wish it was more detailed and I wish it took longer to piece everything together. Overall, it was an enjoyable quick creepy read. I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick YA ghost story read!
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Thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story about a haunted evil tree that no only scares visitors but tries to kill them. The concept of this sounded interesting but after requesting it I saw that it's a YA and immediately regretted it. I still gave it a shot though and unfortunately it wasn't for me.

As a whole, I thought the story was decent and the mystery behind this tree of evil spirits was fun, but the main character was just too much for me. I get that she is a teenager with a tough upbringing and she is going through a lot but my goodness...she was the most unlikable character. In the beginning I tried to look past her nasty thoughts and attitude she had with her "friends" but it just felt constant. She seemed like a nasty person and it was distracting for me. I am fine with unlikable characters but for some reason she just rubbed me the wrong way.

I did enjoy the hauntings of some of the ghosts though and found that a lot of the moments were very atmospheric..loved it. Some of the gory graphic parts actually reminded me of King's Pet Semetary and added to the creepiness of scenes. So much fun! I did have empathy for some of the characters and was rooting for them by the end.

I recommend this to people who are fans of YA and for younger folks who are new to horror/ghost/possession books. Also, for people who are more into plot than character driven stories.

3/5
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The Devil's Tree is your typical teenage horror story. Kaitlyn has been dating her boyfriend Hunter for 2 years now. One night, they decide, along with Kaitlyn's best friend Kesha and Hunter's best friend Dylan, to check out "The Devil's Tree," a local legend. After hearing some strange noises, the friends are quick to leave, but Hunter no longer has control of the car and ends up crashing. Only Kaitlyn and Dylan survive.

Attending the funeral together, Kaitlyn and Dylan see the ghosts of their former lovers and realize that their spirits are trapped. In order to free them, they have to solve the mystery surround The Devil's Tree.

It took me a long time to realize what time period this was supposed to take place in because of the obsession with race and they backwards ways people talked and thought in this small town. Kaitlyn herself also struggled with race, even if she "did not see color" which is harmful in itself. That aspect of the story really bothered me.

Actually, Kaitlyn in general bothered me. She kept saying how bad she had it and no one else had it as bad as her. She never understood the struggles her black friend was going through in the racist town and always thought her own problems where bigger. This is not to that Kaitlyn did not have problems, she did, but to compare her struggles to that of a black girl in a small town is highly inappropriate.

This book is a quick read, despite that. It had every typical trope a horror book like this would have and continued it's problematic ways with a certain gay character. There was on touching moment that I thought was written well and that was when Hunter and Kaitlyn were saying goodbye for the last time.

Other than that, I probably would not recommend this book to anyone.
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The Devil's Tree
by Susan McCauley
BooksGoSocial Publishers

Wow, this was an amazing ghost story/horror story! It's a young adult book that features ghosts, a demon, people that are evil as the demon, four close friends, a haunted tree, courage, love, dysfunctional families, and friendships.

I loved how the writer painted the typical town with the racists, the drunks, the rich, the poor, the judgmental and those that aren't. She also captured the realistic life of teens, of family issues regardless of wealth or status, of racial issues, even religious issues. All of these blended smoothly into the story.

One of the boys wants to go to the haunted tree to have an article in the paper, if they can come up with something new. That day changes their lives forever! I don't want to give spoilers but there are some very spooky scenes, nerve racking situations, great twists, creepy atmosphere, and just plain scary at times.

The book is so good! It's going in my favorite file! The ending was emotional and I almost cried! I am not a person that cries easy so if you are, have tissues ready. I enjoyed this book so much. I couldn't put it down once I started it.
I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this wonderful book!
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This book is an old fashioned ghost story and was surprisingly good,  it’s aimed at up young adults but I’m in my 40s and I  enjoyed it too. Set in Texas there is a tree where nothing grows and there has always been rumoured stories surrounding it,  so when Kaitlyn’s  boyfriend Hunter is convinced to go to the tree by his best friend  Dylan she reluctantly goes along and they soon find out the rumours are true.
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The Young Adult horror book was a dnf for me. The writing was really bad and I felt like I was reading a children's book at times. The racism in this book was too much and Kaitlyn got on my nerves a few times especially when Hunters demise was more like a roadblock for her to leave her town instead of being an enotional loss
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This is a story based off of a actual place, and whose story I am familiar with - so I was excited to read this story. I was not at all disappointed. This book is good for what it is, a perfect story to sit down with and read by a campfire (which I did) and have some scares for the night. However, it is simple and easy to predict. Which was very disappointing. 

A teen named Kaitlyn is tricked by her boyfriend Hunter to go on a sort of ghost hunt with his friends, unfortunately at the end of the night two of them end up dead. It’s up to Kaitlyn and Dylan to find closure and answers. 

I liked this story and it was enjoyable! It is definitely not too serious. It does read like it’s YA. This will be more relatable to teens, as I’m older and felt like Kaitlyn was just annoying at times - obviously due to the age difference. This book is not too serious, or truly scary - but it is fun. It’s also obvious for the first chapter that Kait will end up falling for dylan. The book is surprisingly romance heavy, and not as focused on scares and mystery which is a big downside. Though both characters are likeable (took time for me to like Kait), I did not really care for romance in a horror book. This is a good book for a road trip, or someone not looking for extreme horror.
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A few miles from town stand The Devil's Tree.  The local lore is that the tree is evil, cursed and deadly.  Nothing grows on the tree.  Old Joe tried to cut it down and was killed.  When four teens decide to photograph the tree one of them angers the spirit of the tree and then there is hell to pay.
I'd list The Devil's Tree as YA that would be enjoyed by adults.  I enjoyed this book.  I liked the way that the story evolved into the reason for the curse, how the curse manifests and how Kaitlyn solved the mystery and worked on a plan with Dylan and the Father.   This was an enjoyable creeper of a story.  Thank you #netgalley for allowing me to read and review #TheDevilsTree.
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One Saturday Kaitlyn’s boyfriend, Hunter, convinces her to go to the Devil’s Tree. Their best friends, Dylan and Keisha, are also going and are planning to check out the supposed hauntings surrounding the tree. 
The fun little adventure turns deadly, when they get into a horrific accident resulting in Hunter’s and Keisha’s death. 
Dealing with the heartbreak and devastation, Kaitlyn and Dylan lean on each other, which causes Kaitlyn to start having feelings for him. 
Then Keisha and Hunter starts haunting them and they must figure out how to set them free. 

This was a fun little story, I feel like I would have enjoyed it much more if I had read this while I was in high school. It could come off a bit cheesy and while I don’t mind that, I think people who love YA would love this. 
If you’re looking for something truly terrifying and spooky, this is probably not the book for you. This is more on the “cutesy” side of horror. 
If you don’t like romance with your horror, I also don’t think you’d love this one. There’s quite a bit involved, especially when Kaitlyn starts having feelings toward Dylan. I personally didn’t mind this addition, I like a little bit of romance, but I do feel like it sort of detracted from the spooky factor a bit. It felt like the focus was more on the romance at times, then the hauntings and finding out what the Devil’s Tree is all about. 
There’s also a bit of humor, when Keisha sees Dylan and Kaitlyn becoming close, she becomes extremely jealous. Those scenes are silly and fun, but I wish they had been a bit more serious in nature. 
I liked the whole idea of the Devil’s Tree, it was well thought out and I liked how it all progressed through the story. 
If you’re looking for something a bit more lighthearted and fun, I think this is perfect for that.
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Never ending excitement! I couldn't put it down. I was looking for something spooky to read and this is exactly what I needed. Kind of falls in the "teen" category, I think but still would recommend it to anyone looking for a spooky read.
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I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I went into this with low expectations. 

I had a few issues throughout the whole book. The characters could be annoying and immature, especially in the first chapter. A lot of things got repeated. The main character kept telling us the same information over and over. It got annoying after a while.

The ending was a little bit of a let down. Everything ended pretty much happily ever after. It just felt unrealistic (I know it is fiction, we just see it too much). 

I usually rate based off of how much I enjoyed a book. I definitely enjoyed this. I had trouble putting it down and wanted to know what was going to happen. There is a little bit of a mystery element to the plot and it kept me reading. 

I am very glad I read this and see why it has been getting great reviews. I was very pleasantly surprised. 4 out of 5 stars.
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