ARC Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: And the Trees Crept In
author: Dawn Kurtagich
pages: 352
format: Paperback
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5 (from hated to loved) or 7/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of eerie, atmospheric horror movies, like The Awakening or The Others.  
A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead House author Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

in depth

  • After the creepy thrill ride that was Dead House, I knew I had to snag Kurtagich's second horror adventure.  In the vein of Slenderman and other cringe-inducing (in a good way) urban legends, And the Trees Crept In is a sinister tale that worms its way up your spine and sparks chills that linger long after the last page.  It's a strange, poetic, fragmentary, unsettling book, so this will be a strange, poetic, fragmentary, unsettling review.  

  • It's a chilling English nursery rhyme, a folk story of three sisters and the horror they wrought.  It's also a manor house ghost story, the tale of two sisters escaping their abusive past only to find something darker haunting their steps.  And it's a psychological thriller, the story of a girl and her aunt battling a madness that twists the boundaries between delusion and reality, leaving them--and the reader--tensely uncertain where the truth lies.  

  • Silla and Nori are memorable characters who clutch your heart quickly.  Silla is the older sister, the protector, plagued by memories of the abusive father and fraught mother they left behind.  Of a dark secret that's eating her alive.  Nori is the baby of the family, mute but able to sign, vibrant and lively--the one light in a house shrouded in shadows.  Aunt Cathy is well-meaning but beholden to the nightmares in her head, and Gowan, the strange outsider boy, offers love but also more secrets.  

  • These four souls are trapped in a blood-red manor surrounded by an ever-approaching forest.  The plot is told in regular narration, flashbacks, rhymes, and slivers of Silla's ever-more-incoherent diary.  The breaks and fragments have the effect of camera jerks in a horror movie, setting you off balance, preventing you from getting a clear sense of time, of place.  Kurtagich's writing is raw, with a mix of lyricism and grotesquely carnal imagery that creates an atmosphere of the uncanny.  

  • The questions keep you reading, keep you tense and paging ahead.  What's real?  What's in Silla's mind?  Who is the Creeper Man who hides in the trees?  Where have all the outsiders gone?  What's wrong with Aunt Cathy?  Why are the trees moving?  (Are the trees moving?)  The bulk of it is Silla and Nori becoming increasingly isolated, warding off starvation, guarding themselves from a faceless, uncertain threat.

  • It's a hallucinatory dreamscape, a mystery in fragments with a shocking final reveal.  The secrecy of it all means you don't always feel the characters as deeply as you might want.  The relationship between Silla and Gowan, in particular, feels off-kilter, and Nori is less present than I'd like.  The beginning is also very quick-moving; I wanted more build-up, more sense of normalcy before the drop.  It's a lot shorter than it seems due to the pictoral nature of many pages, so I think there's room for expansion.  

  • In the end, though, it does just what a horror novel should: knock you over, drag you around, tease and whisper and finally punch you in the gut.  If you're looking for a sleepless night this Halloween season, then welcome to the blood manor.  

        in a sentence

        And the Trees Crept In is a lyrical, atmospheric horror that draws you into its uncanny world and spits you out shivering.  


        will i read this author again?  Yes!  Best YA horror writer I've read. 
        will i continue the series?  N/A 

        Note: I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


        1. I loved The Dead House too, so I'm really glad to hear that this one is just as good. xD Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

          1. Yay, thanks! I hope you love it! It's a very different kind of creepy than Dead House was, more slow building.