Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And the Trees Crept In (A Book That Made You Cry)

Pro: Perfectly creepy and with a surprising, satisfying ending
Con: Nope.

The Bottom Line: I got more horror than I expected, but I also got an ending I never considered and it all worked together perfectly.

Dawn Kurtagich's book is the sort that you end up reading by accident. Kind of. I'd seen the cover dozens of times at work, and finally one day curiosity won me over and I thought, "What is this book about?" I knew it was supposed to be creepy, but what else? So I read the summary – cursed house, crazy aunt, terrible woods, odd boy, and tall eyeless man who plays with the little sister and who no one else can see. Well that's uncomfortable. Horror isn't exactly my top choice, but I cracked the book open anyway and scanned a few pages in the middle.

And then a few more.

Aaaaand then a few more.

And then I realized it was too late. The book had sunk its hooks into me and dragged me in. Time to read.

Oh. My Goodness.

Things start out normally enough but it was astonishing just how fast everything went downhill. I was on page 73 when someone asked me what the book was like and with wide eyes I said, "It's good, but I really don't know what's going to happen with all the rest of this to go because I've barely started and the trees are already moving toward the house." It didn't take long for me to start racking my brain for answers as to what the hell was happening in and around this house. Why the hell didn't Silla ever ask for more information when it came to where Gowan lived? How the hell hasn't Silla starved to death by now? And every now and again this one will pop back up – who the hell is that old man at the beginning of the book? Questions upon questions which only get answered with a resounding, "OOOH," at the end of the book.

You also come to realize that Silla is not a reliable narrator. But then again, neither is Aunt Cath. Can you trust anyone in this book at all? You think maybe, just maybe, you've figured out a little something, but then you remember the Creeper Man and it all just falls apart. Again, you won't know everything until the end, and having zero clue is something I appreciate in a book these days. And there's so much batshit crazy stuff happening, I almost started to wonder if this would be a good sampling for what Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves might be like.

This book was good. Very good. And even though the end did in fact – wait for it – actually make me cry at the end in a mixture of both sadness and gladness, you need to be able to wade through heaps and heaps of horror in order to get there. And I'm not talking gore – that's not what horror is. Not in its entirety, anyway. This is weird, unsettling, and often psychological stuff. This is dark houses with gaping holes full of roots horror. Rotting sunken mud in the woods horror. Endless creaking and giggling and screaming in the dark when no one is there horror.

Let me tell, you – it is quite the ride. But the end is like stepping out into the sunshine with clear eyes as you finally get to discover everything that's happened. While there is one mystery yet to be solved, it is not Silla's, and that's okay.

The funny thing is that I never expected that this book would make me cry, or that I would be able to find a book for the reading challenge that would hit that mark, but I guess one should always expect the unexpected, even if we can't, really.


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