Review: The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

cover of The Ghost Tree by Christina HenryThe Ghost Tree by Christina Henry
Berkley (September 8, 2020)

432 pages; $13.99 paperback; $11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

Christina Henry entices readers to travel back in time to a small town called Smith’s Hollow. It’s the 1980s. We follow best friends Lauren and Miranda, their longtime friendship seemingly in transition. Miranda is looking to make friends with older boys who drive while Lauren resents being dragged along as a third wheel. 

Wrapped in this compelling coming-of-age story is something more insidious than teenage boys. Two girls Lauren’s age are found murdered, their bodies mutilated, in the backyard of one of her neighbors. 

Miranda couldn’t care less and is more interested in finally losing her virginity, but Lauren is plagued by visions that seem related to the murders. She is determined to solve the mystery of the dead girls, especially since she lost her own father to violence just two years prior.

I read this book on my Kindle over a weekend and when I finished, I was shocked to learn that it was over four hundred pages long. This book flew by. The chapters are short and sweet, unraveling bits of mystery or diving headlong into Lauren’s teenage drama with a juicy hook at the end of every break, practically begging for readers to keep going.

Even though there is a lot going on in this story—Lauren’s troubled family history, the strained friendship between Miranda and Lauren, the murders, a small town secret and even a vengeful witch’s ancient curse—Henry is able to keep all the strands of her spiderweb woven together in a neat and concise way without losing the reader along the way.

The end result is a complex, interesting story that maintains suspense and intrigue page after page after page.

Part of the joy in reading this book, for me, was because it was like revisiting one of my favorite TV shows, My So Called Life. Claire is more introverted than her thrill-seeking friend Rayanne. And even though Rayanne is the one playing fast and loose with the boys-it’s Claire that is sneaking out of class to kiss Jordan Catalano in the school’s boiler room. This book had a very similar, Girl’s coming-of-age vibe but with the added bonus of having a dark and sinister subplot. I burned through this one. It’s my recommendation that if you’re looking for something you can devour over a few days, something scandalously entertaining with teeth. This is the perfect book for your Fall reading list.


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