Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

“Rotting in your skin, rotting in your mind. You are rotting in this house. In this house you’ll die.”



Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 2016

Filed Under: Stay out of the forest

This book is a love story between sisters. It’s a love story about a boy who can’t love. It’s a story about a teenage girl trying to decide what decisions are best while carrying guilt and confusion and stumbling through her reality, unsure and uneasy.

…But mostly it’s creepy AF.

Silla Daniels, and her mute sister Nori, arrive at their aunt’s decrepit mansion, La Baume, after having escaped their abusive father. They are looking for peace, for a place to call home, and they have pessimistic hopes that La Baume will be that for them.

…But, you know, it’s not.

Because something is off. Their aunt is odd. The house makes noises that fill Silla with dread. And the woods surrounding the property seem to be moving closer to the house; woods where something dangerous lurks, something that won’t let them leave. Could it be the Creeper Man?

As the food supply runs dangerously low, Silla starts to lose her mind. Because at La Baume, nothing is what it seems.

“He’s out there,” I say, turning back to the window. “Always watching. Getting stronger.”

I read this on audio, and I have to say it’s probably the most interesting, engaging, well-done audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I almost felt like I was back in the days when there was no TV and families gathered around the radio to listen to shows. The narration was beautiful and bold, and the production value filled my ears with so much tangible setting that I felt like I was there, an unseen observer.

I can’t say if I would like this as much if I hadn’t listened to the audiobook, because there is a rhythm to the prose of Dawn Kurtagich that was just begging for this kind of production value.

This story was haunting in a way that was both tangible and abstract, leaving me feeling sometimes lost and uncomfortable, but in a visceral way – as if that was exactly where the author wanted me. This story was always moving, always changing direction, so I never truly knew which way was up or down or sideways or under. I spent a lot of time wondering WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Again, in a good way, in a way that not a lot of books have pulled off with me.

The descriptions and setting were on another level, creating a feeling of claustrophobia, and even a little dread. And the feeling of hysteria and panic, that was constantly building through events and misdirection, was truly unnerving to sit through.

My rating boils down to a couple of things that irked me. One being the overall cryptic approach to the storytelling. While the descriptions of Silla and Nori’s surroundings, and the events that happened to them, were beautiful and absorbing, I had no idea when or where this was happening until the end of the book. I assume it’s an intentional choice. And while I can appreciate a “less is more approach” to some aspects of writing, sometimes “nothing is nothing” and I need a little something. You know?

And then there was the ending. It felt bulky and lacked the obscure finesse that the rest of the story had mastered. Too much information was jammed together in order to explain the otherwise unexplainable.

I wouldn’t call this a “scary” story. But I would call it haunting and compelling, and in the end, sad. And those aspects, if nothing else, were ON POINTE.


A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead Houseauthor Dawn Kurtagich 

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

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