And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. Hardcover. 352 pages.
I read this book back in December, but since I never got around to posting my review then, I'm posting it now!
And the Trees Crept In was definitely creepy and I liked it a lot. I'm not very much into the horror genre, but I had such a great time reading this book it makes me want to read so many more books like this!
What I loved most about this book was the overall tone and attitude. I was increasingly drawn to the vivid descriptions of Silla and her sister, Nori, as they wasted away inside the house. It was done in an extremely realistic manner, which made it that much more haunting. The beginning of the book was a little difficult to get into, but I decided to plow through and eventually things started to fall into place.
I would easily describe Silla as an unreliable narrator, and I think that adds to the creepy nature of this book in major ways. Her narration is presented in the form of various journal entries, so the entire experience is very personal. As a reader, we're never fully sure what is actually happening or what is real and what is not. Kurtagich clearly knows how to write intense plot lines and settings, and I could slowly feel the hysteria begin to set in as the story progressed and Silla began to fall into her own madness.
There were a lot of themes related to consumption, such as starvation, finding food, having no appetite, and being unable to eat because of digestion issues as a result of starvation, all of which added an element of authenticity to the story. For much of the story, the girls struggle to find food, and this notion seems to drive so much of the story - their hair becomes weak and falls out, her teeth grow bad, her stomach rejects food, she begins to lose her mind. A line seems to be drawn between whether or not all of these things are being caused by the lack of nutrition or supernatural things occurring.
The ending was really kind of disappointing, but quite frankly I"m not sure how else it would end. Personally, I felt that the overall concept of the ending was somewhat predictable, but it fit the story. I have a lot of thoughts on this ending that I would love to go into more detail to discuss, but I would like to avoid any spoilers in this review, so I'm going to refrain from doing so.
Overall, I have decided to give And the Trees Crept In four stars!
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