Dark-fantasy specialist Kiernan (Daughter of Hounds, 2007, etc.) delivers a creepy and engaging tale.
Portrayed as the posthumously published memoir of a suicide, the narrative is introduced and commented upon by a fictional editor. In the story proper, that suicide, novelist Sarah Crowe, tells of moving into a rural Rhode Island house. There she finds a rather spooky manuscript, written by the house’s former tenant, a professor who was driven mad by his obsession with a 130-foot-tall red oak on the property. The tree is apparently full of dark magic and is somehow connected to various deaths throughout the town’s history. Before long, Sarah becomes preoccupied with the red oak herself. Horror fans will recognize the familiar Lovecraftian gothic-horror elements—indeed, Lovecraft, Poe and other writers are explicitly referenced in the text—but Kiernan’s prose is thoroughly modern, even colloquial, with none of the gothic genre’s tendency toward archaic phrasings. She ably keeps the proceedings from devolving into formula, and her portrayals of Sarah’s growing obsession, and the violence surrounding the tree, are evocative and chilling.
A multileveled novel that will appeal to fans of classic and modern horror.