Horror is a complicated genre to write – you have the ability to not add enough terrifying elements to the story, but at the same time, you have the ability to add way too many different elements that will completely ruin it. Yes, it is possible to add too much gore to a novel. It’s also possible to add too many unbelievable things that will just make the reader think you are adding them for shock value, instead of adding anything substantial to the story. It’s a really difficult thing to balance, and a lot of horror writers, especially those who write young adult horror novels, seem to have difficulty with. I can count on one hand the amount of young adult horror writers that are so incredibly skilled that I will buy pretty much any book they write.
Dawn Kirtagich is number one on that list. I adore her writing, her style, and her ability to take a story and add so many crazy twists and creepy elements that will leave you sleeping with the lights on for weeks. The Dead House, which captivated me with it’s clever story and interesting way to tell the story, is sitting on my bookshelf in all of its beautiful, creepy covered glory, and this amazing book is right next to it.
And The Trees Crept In is one of those novels that I honestly can’t tell you very much about without ruining the twist at the end, because once you read it, you can’t unread it, and it changes everything about the story. Since I try my hardest to write reviews that contain absolutely NO SPOILERS, I will give you the best review of this book I possibly can without ruining any of it for you. Also, I’m giving this book 5 stars, so that should tell you something – 5 star reviews are really hard to get from me!
“Hello, Aunt. We’ve come to live with you.”
And The Trees Crept In tells the story of Silla and her little sister Nori. They arrive at their Aunt Cath’s mansion – a mansion that they’ve heard about from their mother. After having gotten away from some serious trouble at home, the girls quickly embrace life at La Baume Manor…after all, Cath is kind of like the mother that they always wanted – doting, loving, and full of stories. Eventually, though…things start to get a little strange, especially Cath. The area around the manor begins to seem sinister, and some of Cath’s stories have gotten downright terrifying…not to mention that it’s beginning to feel like the entire land has a mind of it’s own…
“We are alone. I am alone. La Baume is wrong and Python Wood is watching.”
When a mysterious stranger starts to come around, claiming to have lived there with their aunt Cath back when the manor was an orphanage, Silla is reluctant to trust him…after all, why should she? Nothing at La Baume is what it seems…
I can’t even imagine going through the same terror as Silla and her sister Nori, and as the years go by with the two of them slowly losing their grip on reality and watching aunt Cath’s stories start to come about with life of their own, it gets creepier and creepier until you hit that stunning conclusion that will chill you to the bone and make you look at the entire book in a different light.
Throughout the book there are flashbacks to three small girls and the things that they did that set about the chain of events in the present. These brief pieces of information are scattered throughout the novel, helping you piece the story together little by little.
Told in a similar style as The Dead House, with journal entries and other random writings, such as notes and letters, And The Trees Crept In is a work of literary genius. The sheer terror that this book brings about with it doesn’t just make your spine tingle, but it makes you question your own sanity – not just the characters in the book. This type of writing makes for a captivating novel that you can’t put down. Even if you didn’t enjoy The Dead House, if you are a fan of horror, I do urge you to give this a try. It’s part psychological thriller and part horror, and both elements really shine through, creating an original and beautiful work of young adult fiction. This is probably my absolute favorite horror novel, and I know I will be rereading this many more times in the years to come.