Title: The Devil's TreeAuthor: Susan McCauley
Publisher: Celtic Sea Publishing
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Kaitlyn Karly and her boyfriend, Hunter McMaster, are out with Kaitlyn’s best friend, Keisha Richards, and Hunter’s best friend, Dylan Anderson, who are a couple. The plan is to drive down to the edge of town where Dylan plans to shoot photos of a supposedly haunted tree called Devil’s Tree for a local magazine.
A ghostly presence chases them from the tree, and the bodies of Keisha and Hunter are found by the townsfolk. However, the funeral is not the end. Kaitlyn and Dylan begin to be haunted by the ghosts of an utterly frightened and subdued Hunter and an angry Keisha, both far removed from their personalities in life.
Kaitlyn appeals to Fr Eduardo Alvares, the Catholic priest who officiated at the funeral. At first, he doesn’t believe her, and refuses to get involved. Later he tries to help them, and suffers a setback himself. Now Kaitlyn and Dylan have to do what they can to bring peace to their dead friends. Leaving their dead-end town and heading out to college isn’t an option, not unless their friends are at rest.
Finding answers will mean spending time together. Strangely, a nerd like Dylan has begun to evoke strange feelings in Kaitlyn but the ghost of Keisha has already warned her to stay away from him.
For Kaitlyn, living in a trailer with an alcoholic single mother, getting away from town is the only way out. But will they find a way to bring peace to their friends or will they be the next to die.
The book is written in the first person PoV of Kaitlyn. The writing was good, but not quite what I’d come to expect of the genre. There was too much of romance eating into the facetime that should have rightly belonged to the horror genre. I would have liked this book even more if the romance had been toned down, or if Dylan and Kaitlyn had begun to date each other towards the end.
At first I didn’t take to Kaitlyn, but gradually I began to like her. She turned out to be a strong character who got over her challenges and grew to embrace her strengths. The loyalty she displayed towards her friends was a good character trait.
There were few characters in the book but most of them stood out. Only Dylan’s dad seemed to be unbelievable in his snobbishness. Among the minor parts, Kaitlyn’s mother’s character was particularly well written.
The townspeople turned out to be a character. Their refusal to accept Hunter who hailed from a respectable family and Kaitlyn, as also the opposition they had to white Dylan dating black Keisha was an obstacle that loomed through the book.
Every time the author wanted to talk about something disgusting, she came up with a roach analogy, and truly, there is nothing more disgusting than a roach.
I liked the way the book made itself relevant to today’s times by talking about issues such as racism, hatred and forgiveness in the face of judgement and prejudice. It also makes a case for acceptance of homosexuality.
Another thing I liked about this book was the total lack of foul language. She even made the horror and the dread evoked by the demon appear believable without having to use cuss words. So many books nowadays can’t seem to get a sentence out without using bad language.
Kaitlyn’s arc was well written, and I liked the ending and the message it carried. I especially liked the fact that her mother’s issues weren’t magically resolved.
There were only a few errors. The father was saying something and other statements like these with the words, the father, as the subject should have been changed to the priest.
In Chapter 9, Kaitlyn makes a reference, give a confession. It should be make a confession.
Why the funerals are held in the Catholic Church isn’t explained in a believable manner. The fact that Dylan’s dad is willing to foot the expenses is insufficient explanation as neither Hunter nor Keisha are Catholics.
All in all, a good book. Not too scary, just the way I like it. A ghost story tempered by hope and redemption.