The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano
Review by Lauren
source: copy from The Fantastic Flying Book Club; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: “It’s dark magic brings him back.”
Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.
Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel.
As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.
Review: I suppose you would call The Suffering Tree paranormal, though it’s definitely rooted in a realistic setting. Tori Burns, her mother, and her younger brother, are given a house in Chaptico, Maryland – left to them by the previous owner – and since they can’t afford their current home after Tori’s father died, they decide to move. This decision affects the Burns in a lot of different ways. First, the Slaughter family that used to own the home, and still own most of the land around them, are not happy that the Burns are there. When things start to go wrong – like a big fire – the Slaughter family blames the Burns even more.
Not long after moving in, Tori sees a young man named Nathaniel Bishop pull himself out of a grave by the old tree one night. She assumes it was all a dream or hallucination but it soon becomes clear that Nathaniel is very much alive, if not completely human. For example, he bleeds sap instead of blood. What I loved about The Suffering Tree is that the book goes back and forth (not every chapter but throughout the whole book) between the present with Tori and the past with Nathaniel, who was a servant under the Slaughter family after being kidnapped back in his home country of England.
The past and present are definitely coming together in this book and it’s fascinating to see how it all plays out. I found Tori’s search intriguing and I desperately wanted some sort of justice for all Nathaniel had endured. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this book that wouldn’t possibly be a spoiler, so I’ll simply say that I really loved this one. It was a quick, interesting read, and I’d be happy to read more by the author.
Now, I read a Goodreads review that mentioned Tori’s cutting – which she does through most of the book. They didn’t feel it was handled well, and I can see where they are coming from. I do think Tori eventually got the help she needed, but the cutting was certainly a necessity for certain aspects of the book and that might not bode well with people. I don’t think cutting or anything related to self-harm should be glorified in any way, but I don’t think that happened in The Suffering Tree. It was very obvious that this was something she shouldn’t be doing and could hurt not only herself but the people who loved her too. At any rate, I wanted to mention this in case it’s something you’d like to avoid reading about!
Other than that, I do hope you’ll enjoy this book! I found it very exciting!
Win a Suffering Tree Prize Pack that includes – a finished copy of The Suffering Tree, a sticker, a bookmark, and Witch Bottle!
Yes, I noticed there are two Twitter entries at the end that lead nowhere. That was a mistake – so please just ignore them!