“Stay away from the woods…
When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?”
Holy atmosphere, Batman! Several times I’ve read a book that critics considered atmospheric, yet I wasn’t quite sure what they meant. I didn’t feel the same way they did, as they flipped through its pages. Now, after completing the audio book for And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich, not only do I understand the phrase, but I think I may actually love it.
Atmospheric is an adjective meaning “creating a distinctive mood, typically of romance, mystery, or nostalgia.”
And the Trees Crept In is a haunted/cursed house story. In order to set the mood for this chilling tale, the audio production makes use of haunting melodies, maddening whispers, and unexpected noises. This pairs perfectly with the narrator’s lovely, accented voice, which earns Polly Lee a place among my favorites. Seriously, if you choose to read this, listen to the audio book. It is a performance in and of itself.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Kurtagich and her second published one. (The Dead House is her first and will be going on my to-be-read pile.) In it, Kurtagich shows an ability to create astoundingly real and dynamic characters. Between Aunt Cath, Silla, Nori, and Gowen, I fell in love and bawled more than once over the course of the book. I’m also assuming I’ve spelled his name right, because despite his heroic actions in this story, it seems most reviewers have neglected to mention him entirely.
The plot is confusing, and it’s meant to be that way. For some it may be hard to follow, for others there are things said (and described with a dark morbidity) that might put them off. There are things in this book, such as the creeping trees, the thing that haunts the house, and the papery apple skin that just aren’t right. It’s supposed to be that way though, because it’s meant to be disorienting and eerie. It’s meant to get under your skin, and it is just so very perfect.
And the Trees Crept In is one of those few books I just cannot vocalize my love for. It’s one of my favorites and, even more rare, it is a title I will listen to again. It is a book I will purchase and read again. It is something I want to own, something I want to hold dear, because it is so damned haunting. And that ending? Goodness. I had to take a second to breathe.