Tuesday 15 February 2022

Book Review | Pine by Francine Toon | prettylittlewriter

 A slow burn full of intensely unnerving and eerily atmospheric horror.

'The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she's gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren's mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father's turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it's no longer clear who she can trust.'
I managed to read this book in one day as I was desperate to finish it once I'd started. The main character of Lauren is a teenage girl filled with heartache and longing for a mum she doesn't remember, that she lost long ago. When she starts seeing a dishevelled lady in a dressing gown, but no one else seems to remember her, she starts to slowly unravel the secrets of her small tight-knit community. 

I never expected to get so emotionally invested in this novel, but I felt so bad for Lauren, and I wanted to protect her. There were certain scenes I found very difficult to read, especially the constant bullying Lauren has to endure from a school 'friend'.

Francine has created a story that keeps you guessing throughout; I certainly didn't see the ending coming, and was thoroughly impressed by it. 

I liked that it was a modernised gothic folktale, as usually gothic novels are historical, but the mention of Disney's Frozen and getting a local Aldi supermarket built brought a little extra familiarity to the novel. 

Overall, very impressed and definitely recommend to any gothic genre fans!

5/5 stars

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