Warning: Self-harm is discussed in this review.
The Suffering Tree
by Elle Cosimano
Publication: June 13th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
“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.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori 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 centuries-old 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.
From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.
I DNF-ed this book after the first few chapters. Why? I blanked out after reading them because my stomach and my mind couldn’t handle it. The main character, Tori, is a city girl who moves into the country after her family acquires a plot of land from a recently dead person whom they didn’t really know. And then there’s Nathaniel, who seems to be, or really is, a zombie, who is seen by Tori as he claws his way out of the grave. I really don’t know what happens to both of them after that because I started suffering a panic attack when I read the part where Tori cuts herself. In detail. Even now, writing this, I can’t recall how it happened without my guts threatening to rise out of me.
I commend the author for tackling hard topics such as slavery and self-harm. However, executing it in such a way, without trigger warnings and written in length at the first few pages, can be harmful to the reader, especially those who have experienced it and even those who haven’t. I was depressed for about a year some time ago and I am thankful that I wasn’t reading this book back then. Authors and publishers should know that although books can be a way of shedding light on harsh subjects and as a means for victims to find understanding, they can also be a way for bad things to happen if they publish books without any sort of warning about its contents. Any unsuspecting reader who happens to read this book may lapse into darkness and can do them more harm than good.
Rating: 1 star