The Suffering Tree
“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.

The Suffering Tree Details

TitleThe Suffering Tree
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherDisney-Hyperion
ISBN1484726596
ISBN-139781484726594
Number of pages368 pages
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

The Suffering Tree Review

  • Solomon ~ The Bookish King
    June 12, 2017
    This review could be triggering to anyone with Self-Harm issues. Just a heads up. So I'm finally bringing myself to review this or try to review, on what I read. Since this was a DNF at 30% I'm not going to rate it because I really only will rate a book I read more than 50% on. But, I definitely wasn't enjoying what I was reading anyways lolUm okay, so the reason I DNF'd it was because of the Self-Harm aspect of the story. I didn't "DNF" because I found it to be too much, or too graphic, I DNF' This review could be triggering to anyone with Self-Harm issues. Just a heads up. So I'm finally bringing myself to review this or try to review, on what I read. Since this was a DNF at 30% I'm not going to rate it because I really only will rate a book I read more than 50% on. But, I definitely wasn't enjoying what I was reading anyways lolUm okay, so the reason I DNF'd it was because of the Self-Harm aspect of the story. I didn't "DNF" because I found it to be too much, or too graphic, I DNF'd because I, myself am not mentally stable enough to read a book about Self-Harm. I'm not going to force myself through 300-something pages about someone who cuts herself because chances are, my anxiety is going to spike through the roof and yeah no, I'm not dealing with that right now. And I also don't agree with the way it was being portrayed in this novel at all. I'm sorry but it wasn't healthy at all. I don't want young teenagers picking this up and reading it and thinking "Oh, she cut herself and some hot dude came out of the ground. And when he comes out of the ground, we're going be best buds and talk about my issues all the time." This isn't something I would want my brother reading, EVER, because it puts thoughts into young kids heads that are not acceptable at all. And ya know, this is my own personal thoughts, as someone who dealt with this for YEARS. I don't find it healthy for a younger audience mental health. Okay, also, I'm thoroughly confused as to why when she cut herself, that it was considered black magic? Like are they meaning that her blood is black magic that brought the boy back from the dead? I didn't finish it, and I won't ever go back to finish it because it was also crazily boring. Because if that's the case, to where they are comparing her self-harm to "Black Magic" then that's disgusting. But again, I didn't finish the book so IDK.Also, want to touch on the fact that I don't think Self-Harm is a topic that shouldn't be discussed. I am all for a book that represents what it's like to self-harm, but it needs to be discussed in a light that doesn't make it acceptable. I reasoned with myself for YEARS that it was acceptable and that it's my body so I can do what I want with it. AND sure, it is your body, do what you want with it but that doesn't mean that Self-Harm is healthy at all. A book that comes to mind when it comes to a good portrayal of Self-Harm is A Little Life. That book so accurately depicted Self-Harm that I actually couldn't make it through (God this makes it seem like I'm a big o'le baby lol) But it also showed that there was a way to get help, that his family cared for him, that there was a way out of that unhealthy lifestyle. There was a hope factor in that book that presented itself early on. To where this book (The Suffering Tree), she just went with the flow of life and didn't think twice about it when she cut herself. She was all like "I cut myself and went about my day as if everything was chill." Nah, not how it works. Sorry. But anyways, I don't think it's something that should be avoided. I think it's something that needs to be thought about thoroughly and not just as a plot device to bring to life hot dudes. And ya know, I'm not ashamed to talk about my past life of cutting, it's not something to be ashamed of, I did it, but thank God He brought me through and out of it. It's something I don't deal with anymore because I had help and a group of support. To whereas this main character just seemed to have some half naked dude she found in the forest .............I do think the blurb should warn about Self-Harm. Ummm so many people make a stink about books featuring eating disorders needing to have a trigger warning, so I don't see how Self-Harm is any different? But also, this is just a book so whatever. Take it or leave it, but I just needed to get out my frustrations. SO with all that said, PEACE OUT and GOODDAY.SOLO IS OUT.//also, this is the most failed buddy read with my homegirl, Sauna
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  • Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net
    February 3, 2017
    Trigger Warning, as the topic of self-harm is discussed at length in this review Plot at a Glance:Tori Burns and her family find themselves living in small-town USA after suddenly and unexpectedly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. Moving to Chaptico, Maryland puts Tori and her family at odds with most of the tightly knit town and sparks a rivalry between Tori and Jesse Slaughter, as its his family's land the Burns have "stolen." The feud is put on the backburner one incredible n Trigger Warning, as the topic of self-harm is discussed at length in this review Plot at a Glance:Tori Burns and her family find themselves living in small-town USA after suddenly and unexpectedly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. Moving to Chaptico, Maryland puts Tori and her family at odds with most of the tightly knit town and sparks a rivalry between Tori and Jesse Slaughter, as its his family's land the Burns have "stolen." The feud is put on the backburner one incredible night when Tori witnesses a handsome young man claw his way out of a grave beneath the oak tree in her backyard. Compelled by reasons unknown to her to protect him, Tori keeps his existence quiet but word travels quickly in a small town and some will stop at nothing to keep their oldest family secrets dead and buried. Reviewed: This book is so hard to review! I was going to try and be optimistic and highlight the things I did like about it, but every time I try and start, alarm bells start going off in my mind because there are much more pressing things to talk about first. Like the elephant in the room.This novel should come with a trigger warning. There is absolutely no indication in any plot summary I've seen that there is a gigantic and repeating theme involving self-harm in this story. Given that this is a YA genre novel, I really wasn't expecting it and I certainly wasn't expecting it to happen over and over again during the story. That's not to say that I don't think the topic of self-harm should be off limits. I believe stories of all types deserve to be told but you absolutely have to consider your audience. Because this particular story was written for teenagers, it's so important to also include thematically how destructive and harmful that behavior is. Furthermore, there needs to be emotional pay off in the form of an ending to that behavior. When you include self-harm in a book for teenagers, it's imperative to show them that things get better and you can move on from it. Unfortunately, Cosimano chooses to use Tori's self-harm as a method to bring Nathaniel back from the dead at the start of the novel. I worry that because it's her blood that brings this sexy, colonial-era teenaged boy into Tori's life, Cosamino inadvertently ties a very harmful behavior to a positive reward.In real life, sexy dead guys aren't going to spring up from the ground and solve all your problems for you when you hurt yourself. No one ever calls Tori out on the behavior. Everyone looks the other way, or changes the subject. What this novel desperately needed was just one character to stop her and show her how much they cared. To help her see how harmful the behavior was. It's never done here and without that sort of emotional payoff including self-harm at all feels like it was ONLY done to bring Nathaniel back from the dead in a novel that impressionable teenagers will read. That is wrong, and I can't support it or in good conscious recommend it to anyone else to read.I think that's enough of that, so I'll move on to other issues:Shifting POV:This is a personal pet peeve of mine. You might love it, but I dislike when POV shifts between chapters. There are 3 separate POVs used in this book. Third person past tense; First person past tense; and first person present tense. Authors take note, shifting POV this many times makes the story a pain to read. It slows down the action dramatically every time, because the reader has to reorient themselves to the new view. Lack of a compelling antagonist: Because the story unfolds like a mystery, I was compelled to keep reading, hoping that the antagonist would show themselves from time to time but it never really happens. We're supposed to buy the Slaughter family as antagonists, but because Tori inherits a house on their land, I never really felt like they were terrible people. In fact, I kind of agreed with them and wanted to see them succeed because the plot surrounding Tori moving onto their property is pretty ridiculous, not going to lie. Shallow characters:Save for Tori and Nathaniel, the characters are really shallow. For example, Tori has 2 best friends Magda and Drew. We never learn anything about them except that Magda's dad is a lawyer, and that Drew is gay. Plus, no character's physical appearances save for Nathaniel and Tori's are ever really described. They're all just faceless shapes in a cast of forgettable characters.All in all, I was really disappointed by this. I saw glimmers of greatness in it, but the final product has a lot of problems. 2/5 stars____________________This was... Problematic. :/ I need some time to sort out my feelings about it.RTC____________________Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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  • sana °¤°
    June 17, 2017
    Buddy read with salty mr. Thiccccc
  • Esther
    May 7, 2017
    Trigger warning: Self-harm is an ongoing subject in this book.Got a copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.This is the kind of story that I've never read before. It seems a historical romance but there are fantasy elements as well. Not sure if this book would be YA in my opinion because of the harsh subjects in the book.This review was first posted on BiteIntoBooks BlogProsEnding: The ending was a good one. I felt satisfied with the ending, which should be the case if Trigger warning: Self-harm is an ongoing subject in this book.Got a copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.This is the kind of story that I've never read before. It seems a historical romance but there are fantasy elements as well. Not sure if this book would be YA in my opinion because of the harsh subjects in the book.This review was first posted on BiteIntoBooks BlogProsEnding: The ending was a good one. I felt satisfied with the ending, which should be the case if the book is a standalone.Lot of mystery: There is a lot going on that you don't understand and it takes almost the whole book for you to get your answers. Things point to some of the wrong people and the wrong places, but you will get your answers in the end!Different POV's: This book is written from 3 different POV's, which made it very interesting for me. You have the current time, you have the visions Tori is having and there is the history told by Nathaniel. I liked the variety and the way the story is told from different POV's. For me, different POV's don't always work or have the effect they should have. But it worked for me in this book!ConsDid not always make sense: There is so much going on in this book that I don't understand. The book had fantasy elements, but I wouldn't call it a fantasy book. The way things evolved didn't always make sense and I'm still not sure I understand what actually happened in the book...Selfharm/Slavery/Rape: Such harsh subjects.. I'm not sure I would put those subjects in a book that I call YA. It's also weird to me that there is no note or warning somewhere in the synopsis or book-blurb. For people struggling with harsh subjects, it could be a shock to read those passages.Didn't enjoy it all the time: There were moments in this book when I wasn't that excited to keep reading. I didn't understand a lot of things that were happening, together with the subjects named above, it wasn't always a pleasant read.A story with a lot of promise. It didn't always make sense to me, Tori was hard to understand as well as her choices. Wouldn't tag this book as a YA, because of the underlying subjects in the book. When you like your casual zombie-boyfriend and a nice mystery and if you're not scared away by the above named subjects, you might enjoy this book.
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  • Mel (Epic Reading)
    June 21, 2017
    I have lots to say about this book so I'm going to try and break it all down for everyone. Starting with the aversion many have with this book. CuttingYes it is true our lead gal is a cutter. She self harms herself in about 8 described incidents (though I would argue that ones done for a spell are different), 4 of which are possibly graphic. I didn't think so but then again I dabbled with cutting as a teen myself and my husband had larger issues with it as a teenager. I think it's a really impor I have lots to say about this book so I'm going to try and break it all down for everyone. Starting with the aversion many have with this book. CuttingYes it is true our lead gal is a cutter. She self harms herself in about 8 described incidents (though I would argue that ones done for a spell are different), 4 of which are possibly graphic. I didn't think so but then again I dabbled with cutting as a teen myself and my husband had larger issues with it as a teenager. I think it's a really important issue that most writers shy away from. I've never read a novel where the lead character is a cutter and, given how widespread of a teen issue it is, it's occurred to me that we should probably be more concerned than we are. So, why is this such a taboo subject? I personally feel like those who have DNF'd or given 1 star because of the cutting content are incorrect. You can still dislike the overall book of course; and choose to say the book is not for you, but that doesn't mean it's bad or inappropriate. Especially if you DNF and don't witness the progression of the cutting issue. Right from page 1 it is not glorified or made out to be right. In fact the shame and fear our gal has over the issue, I think, sends a very good message to teens. I'm not interested in arguing about this at length. This is merely my opinion. But as a previous cutter and having witnessed those who struggle with it even worse I think this is a really important, rarely discussed issue. PlotThere is a lot of great content here. Between moving to a new town, dealing with death, stigma and corruption it has a good base. Then add in the historical context discussion indentured folks, slaves and witch trials: you suddenly have a well thought out book. There was more magic than I expected and I really enjoyed the jump between dreams of the past, and the past and present perspectives. It's quite intricate and the overall family tree and past element felt a lot like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for me. Add in our damaged cutting lead gal and you suddenly start to have a bunch of themes that crossover. That said it's a teen book. While it's definitely not appropriate for less than 14 or 15 due to content, it is still not an adult novel. WritingThe overall writing is quite good. There are some really annoying issues at times; like where someone has the answer to a crisis when they couldn't have had time to make a call and plan in the span of the two minutes between incident and telling others of a confirmed plan. A couple holes like this, but for the most part they are not too hard to overlook.OverallI'd say on principle this book is 3.5 stars for me, but I bump it to 4 stars for being willing to tackle self harm and mutilation issues with teens. Could it trigger someone? Sure. Should it have mentioned self harm in the blurb... I dunno... maybe...Ironically I felt the scenes in the past including whipping, switches and other torture methods was far more graphic and disturbing. I have noticed a tendency as a society to be okay with past violence as we believe it no longer happens today, so it's not as disturbing or something... there's a psychology paper in there somewhere. Recommend?I would recommend this book for adults who love magic that happens or is set in present day, those who enjoy a complex family tree and conspiracy, or anyone interested in a well done take on why teens (or others for that matter) inflict injuries upon themselves by choice. I think any teen over 14 would be entranced by this novel. Oh and I shouldn't forget to mention that the love interest is very unique. I liked it a lot. I especially appreciated the lack of love triangle, gushing about cuteness or hotness and that there is zero slut shaming. All things I'm more than tired of. Overall I would recommend The Suffering Tree and I commend Elle Cosimano for tackling a hidden issue that needs to be brought to the surface even if it makes folks uncomfortable. In fact the more uncomfortable you are the more likely it is that the issue needs to be discussed! To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Stacee
    June 7, 2017
    DNF at 45%The synopsis was interesting, but what really sold it for me was the comparison to Mara Dyer. I went into this book with really high hopes. Tori was an okay MC. She's going through some things and an upheaval in her life and her coping mechanism is cutting. It happens often and in scenes where it's not happening, she's constantly pushing on the healing wounds. Sadly, that habit seemed to define her. Nathaniel and Tori's friends Drew and Magda had potential, but they fell flat....and th DNF at 45%The synopsis was interesting, but what really sold it for me was the comparison to Mara Dyer. I went into this book with really high hopes. Tori was an okay MC. She's going through some things and an upheaval in her life and her coping mechanism is cutting. It happens often and in scenes where it's not happening, she's constantly pushing on the healing wounds. Sadly, that habit seemed to define her. Nathaniel and Tori's friends Drew and Magda had potential, but they fell flat....and that basically describes the entire story. It's all so bland. What I'm assuming is supposed to be build up and mystery is boring. There's no tension or spark. I read to 45% before skipping to 75% and I couldn't find anything redeeming in those sections there to continue further. I'm rating it 2 stars because technically I did read over half and while the idea is intriguing, the execution was sorely lacking. **Huge thanks to Hyperion for providing the arc free of charge**
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  • katherine ✨
    May 23, 2017
    NO THANK YOU.I'm still surprised I managed to finish this book because the amount of times I wanted to put it down, this book and me didn't mesh very well, or at all. The annoying thing is, it actually had potential to be an amazing novel but it didn't, it just fell at every hurdle and I just didn't find myself enjoying it.There's some town history, family secrets and actually promising set of characters - some of the things I actually love in books but not this. I felt like it didn't take much NO THANK YOU.I'm still surprised I managed to finish this book because the amount of times I wanted to put it down, this book and me didn't mesh very well, or at all. The annoying thing is, it actually had potential to be an amazing novel but it didn't, it just fell at every hurdle and I just didn't find myself enjoying it.There's some town history, family secrets and actually promising set of characters - some of the things I actually love in books but not this. I felt like it didn't take much time to build up a story, there was barely any character development through out it and there are so many confusing plot holes that I just didn't get.ALSOOOO LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.....So yeah, this can be triggering to some people but there is a lot of portrayal of self harm in this book and the thing is - unless you read other people's reviews there is absolutely nothing to tell you to be careful when reading this book. Yes, mental health and self harm does happen and it is in many books which I don't mind reading about if it's done carefully and not hurtful for anyone reading it but the way they portrayed in in this book I didn't like it.I think 2 stars is me being nice.***thank you to netgalley and the publisher for a free arc for a honest review***
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  • Milos Mojsilovic
    June 11, 2017
    This had to be the most unique and unexpected novel i read all year. What starts off looking like a YA novel, turns out not to be one. At least not fully. While it has YA elements in it, it spices it up with fantasy, anxiety, cutting, promises, curses that lead to time travel, of sorts & voodoo for good measure.It will might take you a while to get into the book but once it hooks its claws into you it will be hard to let it go. If you get emotional while reading books, this one will give you This had to be the most unique and unexpected novel i read all year. What starts off​ looking like a YA novel, turns out not to be one. At least not fully. While it has YA elements in it, it spices it up with fantasy, anxiety, cutting, promises, curses that lead to time travel, of sorts & voodoo for good measure.It will might take you a while to get into the book but once it hooks its claws into you it will be hard to let it go. If you get emotional while reading books, this one will give you all of them. Well except horny, but that's beside the point.  If you don't get emotional while reading, prepare to get on this one.My head is still buzzing as I'm writting this, cause to be honest I still don't know what to make of this book, other than the fact that i absolutely loved it. Keep in mind that there is some self harming in this book, nothing too graphic, but it's there. And as the story progresses, the author uses it to show that beyond the fear and the stuggle, there is beauty & love to be found there. But don't be mistaken, this is not a book about self harming. It's a work of fiction. But self harming is involved and it also adds an amazing aspect to the story.The plot itself transcends time as it follows two sets of timelines. You don't see the connection at first, and it takes some time before they connect the timelines together fully. But it comes at you like a runaway train. And you don't want to get out of its way....you want to hop on board for this one, cause​ it's one heck of a ride. Prepare to be amazed, engulfed, entertained, surprised, & once you make it to about 60% in, prepare to say goodbye to real life as you'll want to finish the story. You'll want to find out what happens. So get the book & read it.And to Elle Cosimano, thank you for writting this book, and thank you for all the all nighters it took to read it.
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  • Jen
    May 19, 2017
    My thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group-Hyperion for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.This book NEEDS a warning of some sort. There are some VERY graphic images of cutting/self harm in this book, which can negatively affect someone who is thinking about doing it, is currently doing it or who has suffered from it. Just walking into it without any warning can be harmful. It also shows it in a "positive" light in that when the MC hurts herself, she gets this hot guy who cares about My thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group-Hyperion for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.This book NEEDS a warning of some sort. There are some VERY graphic images of cutting/self harm in this book, which can negatively affect someone who is thinking about doing it, is currently doing it or who has suffered from it. Just walking into it without any warning can be harmful. It also shows it in a "positive" light in that when the MC hurts herself, she gets this hot guy who cares about her, who gets her to fix herself. And then when he goes away, the only way to get him back is for her to hurt herself again. THIS IS DANGEROUS THINKING. I cannot recommend this book unless it is used in a clinical setting, where the reading of it is guided as a way to expose faulty thinking that self-harm will bring about a magic prince who will fix you. 1 star, because of the self-harm. If it was handled in a better way, 3? The writing was good, the rest of the subject matter interesting enough to read more, but it was all very dark and sad. I would not avoid this author, but I'm not going to go out of my way to read anything else she produces.
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  • Rachel Lightwood
    February 2, 2016
    We have a cover... and it's beautiful!
  • Amanda
    March 28, 2017
    My reviews are first published on [a cup of tea and an armful of books].Warning: I discuss cutting and the inclusion of it in The Suffering Tree in this review.When I finished The Suffering Tree and read reviews of it I asked myself if I read the same book as these other reviewers because I absolutely do not have feelings of this being a five, four, or even three star book. The initial look at the book, aka the summary, had me hooked. It seemed right up my alley: it has a curse, a mystery, and a My reviews are first published on [a cup of tea and an armful of books].Warning: I discuss cutting and the inclusion of it in The Suffering Tree in this review.When I finished The Suffering Tree and read reviews of it I asked myself if I read the same book as these other reviewers because I absolutely do not have feelings of this being a five, four, or even three star book. The initial look at the book, aka the summary, had me hooked. It seemed right up my alley: it has a curse, a mystery, and a character coming back from the dead coupled with the outsider / outcast aspect. That summary was what led me to request an ARC on NetGalley. Sadly the summary led me astray.The things I liked about this book are slim compared to the problems I had with it. It's exceedingly frustrating as a reader to have most of the excitement about the book explained in the summary, because I found the actual book quite slow and boring at times. Even though the writing had beautiful and sometimes poetic moments, I couldn't shake the disconnect from the characters despite following Tori throughout the entire novel.Normally this is where I'd go into talking about the characters to keep with the flow of my writing, but I wanted to talk about the things I had issues with in order of importance. Because all of my issues with the characters and the points of view pale in comparison to this:Using cutting as a way to have magical things happen is a HUGE problem. There was no indication going into The Suffering Tree that Tori self-harmed. Like this review here, I agree that self-harm is not something that should be completely erased from young adult books, but it does need to be done in a way that doesn't glorify it the way that I felt The Suffering Tree did. The inclusion of self-harm was completely unexpected. I've read a few other books with self-harm in them, and generally there's something in the plot summary that indicates to the reader that it will be discussed in the book.I hated that other characters, namely her mother and brother, seemed to ignore that Tori was hurting. Tori had been caught before and was required to talk to someone (she no longer is talking to someone ) and Tori's mother counts the knives in the drawers, but there's just something so dismissive about how it was handled in the book. They just scurry out of her way in their attempts to not talk about it. With the death of Tori's father, subsequent eviction, and move to a new home and town, you'd think that Tori's mother would be aware of the stressors in Tori's life that would lead to more cutting. There's absolutely no discussion about how Tori is doing and there's no therapy, even though the discussion of therapy is halfheartedly made later on. Nothing comes of it, however. It made me feel like the author just used it as a way to further the story rather than call attention to the real harm it can be.Which brings me back to my main point: using cutting as a way to have magical things happen is a gigantic problem. It's huge. And honestly, I have a hard time thinking about how this made it past editors and first readers, particularly when it's in the young adult market. There's a difference between blood being specifically used for spells which sometimes happens in books with witches / magic and when a character harms herself with the intent to harm and something magical just happens as a result. I cannot believe that this decision was made and reinforced as it went through first readers.This is threaded throughout the entirety of the novel but is never truly addressed. Tori acts weird and blows people off, yet no one calls her on it. No one asks--truly asks--if she's okay. There are other ways of showing that a protagonist has anxiety and depression. Frankly I feel like it trivializes these things by making it the catalyst to magical things.Which leads me into my second problem: the characters are not developed at all. Secondary characters are just names on the pages. The novel centers completely around Tori and Nathaniel. She has friends but doesn't engage with them. Nor do they really try to engage with her. Along with her mother and brother, Tori's two friends exist as plot devices to occasionally further the story. It's sad when I read a story and none of the characters are memorable. I hardly even know what Tori and Nathaniel look like and the other characters may as well be the creepy mannequins at department stores. There's basically a one sentence description about them. I felt that a lot of it was just ticking boxes.When the romance develops the lack of character development really killed it for me. Even when a novel goes the instant-love route, there's things that I can find cute about the romance even if it's unrealistic and / or developed too quickly. With The Suffering Tree I felt nothing. Honestly I think the romance wasn't necessary; I was far more invested in the mystery and anytime something remotely romantic happened it didn't seem to fit in with the novel. I think it would have worked better had Tori and Nathaniel worked together as friends who both had an interest in solving the mystery.The points of view were also very odd in this book. There were three, which is at least one too many. The choice to write in two perspectives--first and third--also kept removing me from the story. It was weird and jarring to switch from one to another. I don't mind multiple perspectives, but it seems unnecessary to switch from third to first and then back. I didn't feel that the book benefited from this choice at all, so I'm rather confused about why it was included in the first place.A lot of this review focuses on the negative things, but there was enough positives that I didn't hate the book. I use the two star rating for "okay" and that's really how I felt about it. I enjoyed reading the mystery and of both Nathaniel and Tori's involvement in it, although I feel that the lack of a villain made it weaker. I wanted to feel more uneasy about the mystery and the events surrounding it, but there wasn't a sense of urgency to them. They felt very surface level which is frustrating when I want to read a mystery. I kept reading because I wanted to see how things would turn out in the end. I was curious but ultimately I feel that the author led too much into what was going to be revealed because it was easy to guess where it was going to go.I have no doubt that The Suffering Tree will be popular when it's published despite the issues I had with it. The premise was amazing and it made me have high hopes for the novel. I have a hard time reviewing when I'm one of the first reviewers of an upcoming release that doesn't have many reviews, but I also know the importance of reading reviews before purchasing a book. I've tried to address all of the positives and negatives so people wondering about this book will have another perspective to look at.I sincerely hope that the publisher addresses the issue that happens when cutting is glorified (particularly when this book is in the young adult market) before publication.2 stars.I received a copy of The Suffering Tree from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Suffering Tree will be published on June 13th.
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  • Danielle
    March 24, 2017
    (I received an ARC of this book on NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.)I finished this book a few days ago, and I have carried it with me since then, trying to talk myself into it.I enjoyed so many things about this book until I realized that the biggest obstacle would never be resolved:This book glorifies and romanticizes self-harm, to the point where it is actually the means through which the protagonist actualizes her goal. None of her friends call her on th (I received an ARC of this book on NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.)I finished this book a few days ago, and I have carried it with me since then, trying to talk myself into it.I enjoyed so many things about this book until I realized that the biggest obstacle would never be resolved:This book glorifies and romanticizes self-harm, to the point where it is actually the means through which the protagonist actualizes her goal. None of her friends call her on this, and her lies to her mother are never addressed. As a middle school teacher, I cannot recommend this book.
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  • Carina Olsen
    June 19, 2017
    Been wanting to read this book for ages now. Because it looks gorgeous; love that cover so much. And it sounded pretty good too. Finally got to read it, but oh, I'm pretty disappointed. Giving it two stars. Which break my heart a little, because I really wanted and expected to love this book. How rude. But it was so different.Like, the goodreads summary is not very correct at all. It doesn't mention at all that Tori is cutting herself. And that she has been harming herself all the time for month Been wanting to read this book for ages now. Because it looks gorgeous; love that cover so much. And it sounded pretty good too. Finally got to read it, but oh, I'm pretty disappointed. Giving it two stars. Which break my heart a little, because I really wanted and expected to love this book. How rude. But it was so different.Like, the goodreads summary is not very correct at all. It doesn't mention at all that Tori is cutting herself. And that she has been harming herself all the time for months, that she is full of cuts. It didn't bother me, but it could bother a lot of other people. It did bother me that I never got to know why she cut herself, though.It also doesn't mention that a lot of this book takes place three hundred years earlier, in flashbacks. There were a lot of those scenes. And I am not sure if I liked them or not. They were my favorite part of the book, because those scenes were a lot of heartbreaking and awful. About slaves. About how they were treated. It wasn't nice to read about. But it was interesting, and I cared more for those characters. But I also didn't love it, because Nathaniel was in love with Em for years, yet she was in love with someone else. And reading about that just broke my heart, because this boy did not get much happiness at all. And neither did Em. Their years as servants were not good years, reading about it was heartbreaking. Some parts were boring, though.But this isn't really their story. This book is about Tori, taking place our time. I wish I could say that I loved this girl, but I didn't, not really. I felt nothing while reading about her. I was curious about her family; liked some things about her too. But for the most part I didn't really like her. I didn't like reading about how she hurt herself every time she couldn't deal with something. It was painful to read about. I still didn't know why. She started before her father died. Think she was raped, but it was never said. I needed it said. Aw.This book is about Tori moving with her mom and brother to a new place that they suddenly got from a dead guy. They don't know why they were left this house and land, but are trying to figure it out. The neighbors weren't very nice at all. Ugh. And there was a boy, Jesse. Seemed like he could have been a weird type of love interest, but he wasn't. He was a bit cruel and awful; he even went through all of her stuff in her room one day, and she did nothing about it. That bothered me too. But he wasn't important.But yeah. I'm not sure what to share about this book. Don't really feel like writing much about it. It's about Tori seeing a boy coming out of the ground, clawing his way up. Nathaniel died three hundred years ago. He was cursed, sort of. And I liked reading about this boy a lot. Was so curious about his story. But, well, Tori never asks him about any of it. And that bothered me too. All I know about him is the scenes from the past; which isn't something he was telling her about. Wanted that. So yeah, that was disappointing too.I'm not sure what else to say. I liked reading about the past. Though I only really enjoyed reading about Nathaniel. Tori just bothered me. She has two friends in this new place, but I cared nothing about either of them. One of them didn't tell her the truth about something important. And they just weren't really there. As Tori kept so many secrets from everyone, and I didn't approve of that either. Sigh. I felt like this book could have been so much better. Yes, I enjoyed some of the plot, but not most of it. I wish I had loved it.Then there was the romance. Sigh. I felt nothing for the romance at all. And that bothered me a lot as well. I thought it would be swoony and awesome, but it was neither. I liked Nathaniel a lot, and I sort of liked Tori, but I didn't ship them together at all. Didn't get why they should get together. Plus the romance was really small and weird too. Didn't get why they were attracted to each other, or how it happened. One small kiss. Then second kiss turned into too much, and it just felt awkward to me. Just, so so depressing.I wish I could say that I loved this book. But I didn't. I found the plot to be exciting most of the time, and I wanted to know how the book would end, but I also didn't care much. I just wanted the book to end at times, which isn't a good thing. Aw. I also didn't think the ending was very exciting; felt like it could have been more. Aw. But I am glad that I tried this book. Just wishing it had been better. Curious to know what others think of it, though. Have seen someone love it, and someone not finish it. Aw. Need more opinions.---This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: http://carinabooks.blogspot.no/2017/0...
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  • All Things Urban Fantasy
    June 16, 2017
    Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.THE SUFFERING TREE has themes teens will identify with but the plot holes and writing style overwhelm and distract from the overall novel. Tori Burns and her family move to Chaptico when they are bequeathed a house and plot of land. After her father’s death, Tori is depressed and angry. She’s a cutter who already feels like she doesn’t fit in and living in the close-knit town just isolates her further. When her blood accidentally raises Nathaniel Bisho Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.THE SUFFERING TREE has themes teens will identify with but the plot holes and writing style overwhelm and distract from the overall novel. Tori Burns and her family move to Chaptico when they are bequeathed a house and plot of land. After her father’s death, Tori is depressed and angry. She’s a cutter who already feels like she doesn’t fit in and living in the close-knit town just isolates her further. When her blood accidentally raises Nathaniel Bishop, a murdered indentured servant, Tori learns more about the dark history of the town. Both Tori’s and Nathaniel’s past become integral to ending a curse and solving why the Burns family were given the house at all.There were a lot of odd writing choices in THE SUFFERING TREE. Chapters are broken into two different POV styles (3rd person/omni for Tori, 1st person for Nathaniel). Tori’s dream scenes are written in 1st person present tense. Each writing switch becomes more clunky and distracting. Everytime we think we’re settled into Tori’s head, there’s a one-line mention of another character knowing something or seeing something about Tori. Exposition also gets in the way of Tori’s chapters. Near the end of the book, Tori distractingly turns into Hercule Poirot and starts rattling off long theories.There are some problematic elements that I wished had been addressed. With the history of slave ownership and indentured white servants, why is a servant's rape the sole thing that shames the Slaughter family? Why is that worse than anything else that likely happened on the plantation? There should be a known dark history to the Slaughter's and the town, as well as an already twisted family tree. As well, the witchcraft and magic that Emmeline performs has clear roots in voodoo but it’s never explained how Emmeline knows this magic.This is one of the few books that I wish that there had been a love triangle or that the romance element was removed completely. I never invested in Tori and Nathaniel’s romance, especially since Nathaniel’s chapters were filled with longing for Emmeline. Jesse Slaughter started off as a charismatic teen who was kind, popular, and just had his family’s life ripped apart by this new family. Then, he goes full 80s villain. It felt like a lot of the character reversal was to buck the ‘love triangle’ conventions. Instead it just leeched away any interesting tension and complex characterisation. What would it mean if not all the Slaughters were batshit crazy and out to get Tori?A forced romance and confusing characters ultimately detract from what could have been an interesting historical fantasy. If THE SUFFERING TREE focused more on Emmeline, and if the Slaughter family hadn’t been such obvious villains, there could have been a lot of interesting questions that addressed the impact of personal history, the importance of blood relations, and whether the past is still something that must be atoned. Tori and Nathaniel’s story may continue into another novel, but it’s one I don’t think I’ll be reading.Sexual content: Brief reference to sex; Trigger Warning: scenes of cutting, thoughts of suicide
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  • Stephanie Ward
    June 14, 2017
    'The Suffering Tree' is definitely a book that has left me trying to figure out how I feel about it, how I should rate it, and how to even review it. I don't get many of these types of books, mainly because I would shy away from reading them to begin with. This obviously wasn't the case here, so...yeah. I'm going to do my best to be coherent and hopefully you can decide for yourselves if you want to pick this one up or not.I have a few qualms with the description itself, without even starting th 'The Suffering Tree' is definitely a book that has left me trying to figure out how I feel about it, how I should rate it, and how to even review it. I don't get many of these types of books, mainly because I would shy away from reading them to begin with. This obviously wasn't the case here, so...yeah. I'm going to do my best to be coherent and hopefully you can decide for yourselves if you want to pick this one up or not.I have a few qualms with the description itself, without even starting the book. I've read several other reviews for this one, and I have to agree with them on this point. The description NEEDS to have a trigger warning or at least mention that there is major self-harm. This is a huge aspect of the book and of the main character - and it's not even mentioned in the description. If I had known about it, I probably would have still read the book - but I would've been aware of the situation and prepared for it. It hit me like a train right at the very beginning and only got worse throughout. The main character, Tori, is a cutter. She suffers from anxiety and uses cutting as a coping mechanism. Fine - it happens and I actually respect that you included it the way it was. But again - no mention whatsoever beforehand. It's a big deal in the story and a big deal for the reader. At least put this in the description or something so people know going in. The other issue with the description was that it picked out the most interesting points of the story, but left out what the majority of the book was actually about. Again - I probably would've picked this up anyways, but at least let me know what the actual book is about and not just unfair teasers.After that small rant, I can honestly say that the story had a ton of potential. It just didn't quite make it. I was so excited to read this book after reading the description - but like I said, it didn't match up and I was kinda disappointed. Tori was a good main character - realistic because of her issues with not fitting where she just moved, feeling left out/like she doesn't belong, anxiety problems, and even the cutting. The plot was interesting because it did have a lot of mystery - mostly centered in the past, but still pretty great. I liked figuring out what really happened back then to Emmeline and Nathaniel. It was a fantastic premise, but didn't quite follow through with the promised amount of magic and paranormal aspects. Lastly, I want to touch on the writing style. This was interesting and well done, in my opinion. There are three different POVs - Tori in the present time, Nathaniel recounting his past, and Tori's visions/nightmares through Emmeline's eyes. I loved that the author chose to do multiple POVs and that she chose these character's for narrators. One thing that bothered me was that Nathaniel and Emmeline's narratives are done in the first person, but Tori's is from the third person. Why? I really believe that if Tori's part was done in the first person, I would have connected with her better and would've had a better experience with the story. It's a shame that something like this could make or break a book for me, but I think it did. This is a big point of interest for me with every novel I read, and it just didn't completely work for me this time.So, that's kind of it in a nutshell. These are all my own opinions and obviously don't reflect how other readers will feel. I hope that it gives you a heads up before deciding if it's for you or not. I'm giving it three stars because the main aspects (writing, plot, characters, etc.) were well done, but I can't get past the issues I mentioned above. I really wanted to love this one, but again - it just didn't happen for me.Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Roxanne
    June 13, 2017
    Thank you to Negalley and Disney-Hyperion for a copy of the eARC in exchange for a fair review. Tori has recently moved to Maryland, her family has inherited a plot of land and house just in the nick of time. Since Tori's dad died they have lost everything and had no choice but to move from DC to this small town in Maryland. Even though she finds it strange that they have a random plot of land in the middle of the Slaughter family farm. Tori also cuts, but her mom knows about that so when she he Thank you to Negalley and Disney-Hyperion for a copy of the eARC in exchange for a fair review. Tori has recently moved to Maryland, her family has inherited a plot of land and house just in the nick of time. Since Tori's dad died they have lost everything and had no choice but to move from DC to this small town in Maryland. Even though she finds it strange that they have a random plot of land in the middle of the Slaughter family farm. Tori also cuts, but her mom knows about that so when she heads out to the old dead tree to cut herself she doesn't think anything of it until she finds a boy later. Nathaniel Bishop tells her that he was hanged from that tree and that Emmaline must have brought him back.When Matilda the old lady that lives near them tells her that Emmaline brought him back, Tori knows something deeper and darker is going on. Will Slaughter has gone missing, and Tori keeps finding Alister Slaughter on their property. She knows they are looking for something, and it has something to do with why they inherited the property. Sins of the past are coming to light, and Tori is falling for a boy who has long been dead. Will she be able to set him free? Will she be able to find the proof she needs in order to save her family? I have read all of Elle's books so when I saw this it was an automatic request! While I didn't love it as much as her other books, I soon found myself sucked into the mystery and wondering what was going to happen. I love Tori, despite all that tries to break her and her cutting she still gets up and tries again and again.I also loved the Gothic southern feel to the book. Buried secrets are some of my favorite things to read about and this did not disappoint, especially since it brought up indentured servants a part of our history that we really don't spend a lot of time focusing on. I have to say that I hated that it ended, I wanted more and I want to read more about Tori, but alas this is a standalone so I have to just be happy with what I have.
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  • Heather Brown
    April 25, 2017
    I am not a fan of this book. I was excited to read a book in which the bad guys have not only African slaves, but also have children and criminals from England as slaves. People should really know more about this! Unfortunately the author also decided to tackle the current issue of cutting - at length, and in great detail - which really detracted from the slavery issue. It also felt weird that Tori magically fell in love with Nathaniel when she barely interacted with him, at least as far as the I am not a fan of this book. I was excited to read a book in which the bad guys have not only African slaves, but also have children and criminals from England as slaves. People should really know more about this! Unfortunately the author also decided to tackle the current issue of cutting - at length, and in great detail - which really detracted from the slavery issue. It also felt weird that Tori magically fell in love with Nathaniel when she barely interacted with him, at least as far as the book mentions. Maybe a lot happened 'off screen', but then what was the point?
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  • Rebecca Armstrong
    May 28, 2017
    The Suffering Tree is a YA fantasy novel with intriguing characters, historical aspects and an unsettling feud which is ready to blow. I enjoyed the storyline but there were many issues that somewhat irritated me. One of my qualms is that self-harm is a very pivotal part of the story. According to the Disney book website, The Suffering Tree is aimed for 12+ year old's. I disagree here, purely from being so soon out of high school. I don't think children of 12, 13, 14 etc should read about this i The Suffering Tree is a YA fantasy novel with intriguing characters, historical aspects and an unsettling feud which is ready to blow. I enjoyed the storyline but there were many issues that somewhat irritated me. One of my qualms is that self-harm is a very pivotal part of the story. According to the Disney book website, The Suffering Tree is aimed for 12+ year old's. I disagree here, purely from being so soon out of high school. I don't think children of 12, 13, 14 etc should read about this in detail. Also, there's no warning in the blurb. Which is in poor taste. Self-harm is portrayed in a poor way. It actually creates a positive outcome for Tori as it raises Nathaniel from the dead. Positive connotations are never applicable towards teenagers who are often impressionable. Tori's self-harm is also not referred to in a bad way by those around her, and it is not resolved by the end. The overall mystery of the book was really interesting. I loved the premise, I just wish it had bypassed the problematic aspects. An enjoyable part of every muster is not knowing who the antagonist is. Tori changes her suspect list throughout, but the ending is truly spectacular story telling.Another problem was that the POV shifted a lot between past and present and between our main characters. This might just be on my e-book version, but I didn't know who I was reading sometimes. I usually have no problems with shifting POV's. But I do require some indications as to who and when I'm reading about for comprehension.Tori, Nathaniel and the Slaughter family are all engaging and relatable to a degree. The secondary characters maybe not so much. This correlates to Tori feeling like an outcast or 'transplant' to the town. So I take this more of a chosen method of writing instead of lack of planning. Overall, I enjoyed the book but I hated the more graphic scenes of self-harm. I also disliked knowing younger audiences could read this without knowing. I received The Suffering Tree* by Elle Cosimano as an e-book from the publisher, Disney Hyperion, via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.Uptown Oracle Reviews
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  • Holly
    May 11, 2017
    Trigger warning for self harm Let's start with the good aspects before I get critical and start rambling. I loved the base for the story. It was witchy and creepy and the atmosphere of the novel was great. Plus that cover??? Holy shit I'm in love. I liked the flashbacks Tori sees through her dreams from Emmeline. This would have been a fantastic novel, easily one of my fav suspenses... if there was no self-harm (or at the very least, a warning for it).I'm going to put the self-harm discussion u Trigger warning for self harm Let's start with the good aspects before I get critical and start rambling. I loved the base for the story. It was witchy and creepy and the atmosphere of the novel was great. Plus that cover??? Holy shit I'm in love. I liked the flashbacks Tori sees through her dreams from Emmeline. This would have been a fantastic novel, easily one of my fav suspenses... if there was no self-harm (or at the very least, a warning for it).I'm going to put the self-harm discussion under a spoiler tag for both spoilery reasons and because, obviously, TW self-harm.(view spoiler)[There is not one word of warning in the summary or intro of the book, and I don't read reviews before reading ARCS, so I had absolutely no idea that there was self harm in this book. Self harm is actually a major theme in this story. There are six - S I X - graphic descriptions of three separate characters cutting themselves in the novel (and those are just the ones I caught). Our MC, Tori, has a self-harm habit that she refuses to seek help for and frequently engages in. She hides sharp objects in her room because her mother, aware of Tori's habit, has sharp items around the house on lock down. Which brings up a point that I didn't realize in the text because I was too busy counting self-harm scenes - but Tori's mother knows about Tori's cutting, has since she almost died before they moved, and although she takes steps to make sure Tori isn't cutting, she doesn't make Tori get help and it is not enough. Tori is hurting herself, permanently disfiguring her body because she is in so much pain and needs an outlet, and Tori's mother's solutions are to maintain a count of the knives in the cutlery drawer (where they still remain!), and keep suggesting Tori see a therapist they've talked about before. That's it. This isn't like a child is acting out and staying out late and you reprimand them and hope they grow out of it. Tori is HARMING herself, her mother knows she does (or at the very least did) this because Tori almost killed herself once, and yet her steps that she takes to help and protect her daughter are... minimal. It is never addressed. Self-harm is used as a means to achieve goals and move the plot further, and is never condemned (actual spoilers ahead so watch out). Tori uses self-harm to achieve her goals - her self-harm leads to the initial resurrection of Nathaniel and his subsequent resurrection at the end of the novel; her self-harm allows her to complete the spell in her own witch bottle to protect Nathaniel so they don't have to rely on Emmeline's old witch bottle. She also self-harms when things get to be too much, but Tori is never caught or forced to face anything. Emmeline's self-harm is not seen as a habit, but is mentioned in passing - it was how Emmeline and Nathaniel kept track of days on the slave ship. Nathaniel's self-harm leads to his and Tori's discovery of his connection to the tree. The only condemnation of self harm is when Nathaniel tries to get Tori to promise not to do it anymore (which 1- she doesn't, and 2- don't even get me started on ~love can fix and save all~). Self-harm is a huge theme in this novel. In addition to all of the instances of character's self-harming, the language the writer uses very obviously wants us as the readers to make the connection to self-harm, even in a scene without it:And I start cutting, shedding everything that weighs me down, tearing my clothes away.Now keep this in mind - I have never self-harmed. I do not understand the appeal at all. All I know is the school-based psychological aspect of self-harm that I learned from classes, the reasoning behind why some teens chose to do this. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH. I am telling you flat out that I do not understand self-harm. So while these scenes didn't make me feel light and fluffy, they didn't hurt me. HOWEVER, I can only imagine how damaging the material in this novel would be for people at-risk, or who have a history of self-harm. Some of the self-harm scenes are described in detail, and could be extremely triggering for some people.(hide spoiler)]DO NOT READ THIS NOVEL, DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS NOVEL, if you or whoever you are thinking of recommending it to are at-risk or have a history of self-harm.Ok, on to the next issue I had with this novel - race. Going to put this under a spoiler tag too, just in case. (view spoiler)[This discussion makes me super uncomfortable and I might not get it right, so please call me out on anything problematic. The story, though it takes place in the present, is rooted in the past, in Nathaniel's time as a slave - sorry, servant, because he is supposed to be released and granted land upon his completion of his internment (spoiler, he never is). The diction makes it very clear that the black people are slaves, bought and sold with no rights, while the white people (like those stolen as children from white countries like Nathaniel and Emmeline) are servants, expected to have paperwork, contracts, which grant them 10 acres of land and freedom after seven years of servitude (called "redemption"). This novel had maybe two notable black characters. Notice I said notable and not main. That is because these two characters are side characters to the side characters. The only two black characters I can remember are Ruth and Samuel. (Spoiler) Ruth was a house slave (and Emmeline's love - yes, multi-racial lesbian representation!), and Samuel was a field slave. Both ran away at the end with Emmeline, and all three went off and started a life together. That is all I remember about our two black characters, mainly because that was pretty much all the information given about them (besides Ruth's adventures with Emmeline that we see in Tori's dreams). Disappointing. And unsettling, given this story largely revolves around slavery, and there are only two black people.I just... don't understand why there couldn't have been more POC. Very little of the story would have had to been changed if Nathaniel and Emmeline were black - they still would have gone through hell (it would have been slavery instead of servitude with a false-contract, and yes, would alter the story a bit); they still would have tried to escape, and failed; they still would have been punished as they were... instead we have white people. Yes, white people were abducted and taken to the Americas as servants. Honestly... who cares? I would have much rather read about Nathaniel and Emmeline, Africans, rather than Nathaniel and Emmeline, Europeans (and I'll be honest, I 100% thought they were African until like 1/3 of the way through when it is mentioned that Nathaniel is European). There is so much more history and depth to having Nathaniel and Emmeline be black, and having them be white felt a bit lazy, like the author didn't quite want to do the research that would have been involved had they been abducted from Africa. And I don't mean to belittle the African experience when I say this, not at all, but to me, it felt as if Nathaniel and Emmeline were black characters, but then were made to have white skin - the abduction, the brutality of servitude/slavery, running away getting caught and forced back into servitude, (SPOILER) getting hanged and drowned as punishment... all felt like the storyline of an African slave. I know there would have been nuances that would have needed to be taken into consideration had Nathaniel and Emmeline been black characters, but I think it would have been well worth the effort to provide this representation.There is also one thing that niggled at me that deals with race but not POC: we had small Jewish representation. Yay! But... there was one Jewish family, and the dad was a lawyer (who worked for the Slaughters, the bad guys). That just seemed super stereotypical to me. It wasn't necessarily bad representation, but it was the only representation, and it was on the opposing side of our MC. I don't know. Made me feel a little bit, uh, discomfited. (hide spoiler)]I don't quite know how to rate this. The novel itself, ignoring the problems, is easily a five star story for me. However, there is zero warning for the self-harm aspects of the book, and as this is geared towards juveniles and young adults, this is unacceptable. Additionally, the lack of black characters, in a story largely surrounding slavery, made me feel a little squicky. So the two major themes in the novel, slavery and self-harm, were not handled very well, and as a result I took off a star for each.So yea... I am very conflicted over this book. I really loved the overall story, but some of the details didn't sit right with me. And as much as I loved it, I am a white girl who has never self-harmed, so the damaging aspects of the story didn't have as much an effect on me. Keep that in mind if you are thinking about reading. Look for reviews from people of different backgrounds than mine. I haven't been through these things, so I cannot accurately convey how harmful this novel would be to others.I don't know if I can recommend this in good conscious without something being changed. There are too many harmful aspects of this novel to go into it with no warnings. However, I would recommend it (to those comfortable reading it) if the summary was changed, or there was some sort of trigger warning for self-harm, so readers know what they are getting into. Here are some self-harm resources, should you need them:Text a crisis counselor for confidential support right on your phone: Crisis Text LineUse this app to calm down, manage self-harm urges: Calm HarmFor more info, various resources on self-harm: Self-Injury Outreach and SupportI received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
    January 20, 2017
    I was fortunate to receive this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This fact does not change my rating or my review. I award this book 3.5 stars.I really love Cosimano's work-- she has a way of evoking a gloomy, suspenseful atmosphere and is very talented, so I was looking forward to reading this book. The Suffering Tree stars Tori Burns who moves from DC after her family inherits a plot in Maryland from an unknown benefactor. Tori cuts herself and struggles with anxiety. She I was fortunate to receive this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This fact does not change my rating or my review. I award this book 3.5 stars.I really love Cosimano's work-- she has a way of evoking a gloomy, suspenseful atmosphere and is very talented, so I was looking forward to reading this book. The Suffering Tree stars Tori Burns who moves from DC after her family inherits a plot in Maryland from an unknown benefactor. Tori cuts herself and struggles with anxiety. She is adopted and doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. She meets a mysterious boy, Nathaniel, and struggles against the Slaughter family who don't want her family around as they feel they should own the land that has been in their family for generations, not her.There are many wonderful things about this book. The back half is much stronger than the front half, and the mystery starts peeling away its layers steadily from chapter to chapter. The setup is intriguing as is the back story with Nathaniel. Except for the final page, I enjoyed how the mystery wrapped up and how certain surprises were revealed. The setting was perfectly set up, and I marvel at how Cosimano is able to evoke it so effectively. That said, I had a hard time getting into the book. I will say that it was definitely worth sticking around for the back half. I wish the reveals happened more steadily throughout the book to keep my interest instead all being back loaded. Tori is a hard character to like because she is so prickly, and probably very deliberately, I had a similar issue with another character. Nathaniel is much more likeable but I had a hard time figuring out what his character arc was for this book. And the end... let's say I'm not sure how all that is going to work out and was a bit squicked out.Overall, I think it's a worthwhile read especially for those who like more of a horror story that has a bit of a mystery/thriller attached to it.
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  • Heather Ezell
    October 1, 2016
    YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. I am so absurdly lucky because, yes, I just finished THE SUFFERING TREE.I did not know how deeply I was craving this book. I did not know how madly I needed this book.I'm in a dizzy oh gosh oh no it's over spell but will absolutely post a more specific review asap but oh my heart. <3 Also, what isn't in the book description: fantastic, real, heartbreaking true-to-life mental illness rep. ALSO, queer rep. Also, also, also, YOU GUYS WHY DOES THIS BOOK NOT COME OUT UNTIL JUNE YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. I am so absurdly lucky because, yes, I just finished THE SUFFERING TREE.I did not know how deeply I was craving this book. I did not know how madly I needed this book.I'm in a dizzy oh gosh oh no it's over spell but will absolutely post a more specific review asap but oh my heart. <3 Also, what isn't in the book description: fantastic, real, heartbreaking true-to-life mental illness rep. ALSO, queer rep. Also, also, also, YOU GUYS WHY DOES THIS BOOK NOT COME OUT UNTIL JUNE I WANT TO GUSH AND TALK ABOUT IT MORE THAN I CAN!Also I absolutely will be hugging and taking selfies with the hardback when I have it in my shaking, desperate hands.
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  • Holly
    September 7, 2016
    OMG ELLE!!!!! I need it now now now now NOWWWWW! WHAT. I am sooooo ready for this - bring it on! Why is June so far away.
  • Veronica of V's Reads
    June 26, 2017
    Trigger warning: this book has intense and graphically described instances of the MC cutting her skin as a means to cope with her grief and isolation.16 year old Tori Burns is new to rural Chaptico, Maryland. Her adoptive mother, brother and herself mysteriously inherited twenty acres of land and a home smack dab in the middle of the Slaughter farm, bequeathed by Al Senior upon his death several months ago. It was just in time, too, as Tori's family had been recently evicted from their apartment Trigger warning: this book has intense and graphically described instances of the MC cutting her skin as a means to cope with her grief and isolation.16 year old Tori Burns is new to rural Chaptico, Maryland. Her adoptive mother, brother and herself mysteriously inherited twenty acres of land and a home smack dab in the middle of the Slaughter farm, bequeathed by Al Senior upon his death several months ago. It was just in time, too, as Tori's family had been recently evicted from their apartment. (There's some shenanigans about this that I'll describe later.)Tori hasn't been the same since her adoptive father died a year ago. Since then, she's quit swimming--though she was an expert swimmer--because she can't imagine doing it without her father cheering her on. Also, she's begun cutting her skin to mask the grief she's experiencing. Her arms and legs are covered in scars, and she regularly presses on healing cuts to induce pain when necessary. She's an outsider in her school which has lots and lots of Slaughter kids, all of whom have the status. Jesse Slaughter is the typical king of the school, and Tori can't figure out why he's talking to her and asking her to Homecoming. One night, when the pain is too great, Tori runs out to the small graveyard on the edge of the property and digs a sharp branch into her arm. The blood shed releases a centuries-old curse and, inexplicably, a man from his shallow grave. Tori's appropriately horrified by the advent of this former-servant of age-old Slaughter Farm, Nathaniel, and that's only the beginning. She's plagued by nightmares of the Chaptico Witch, Emmeline, who was the love of Nathaniel back in the seventeenth century.So, you can see, this was a really different plot line. The POV shifts between 1690s Nathaniel's memories, the present-day, and dreams/visions Tori experiences from Emmeline's magic. Because, she was a witch, and she did love Nathaniel enough to preserve him until he could fulfill his sworn duty to protect her.There are many interesting themes here: dealing with grief, learning about your history, becoming the person you were meant to be, doing the right thing, as well as the folly of greed and the horror of locking down one's family skeletons. I think I didn't really get hooked until about a third of the way through, mostly because I was a little stupefied by some of the issues Tori faces.See, her mom is a volunteer art teacher. Her father dies and has no life insurance, leaving them essentially destitute. They have no other family and are on the verge of eviction. Sorry, I'd be working at a paying job, folks. And, the grief really isn't an excuse for me. The whole set-up seemed shady, and it put me off. I almost had less trouble accepting the magical resurrection of Nathaniel than their real-life crisis of near-homelessness. Also, her mom is practically unable to keep this family together. Beyond driving and painting, she has virtually no life skills despite being a mother for 16+ years. It was insulting, honestly. So, shenanigans. I call it. The isolation Tori experienced was far easier to accept as a reader. New girl in a small town. She's odd and weird. No doubt she'll struggle to fit in. The double-crosses were to be expected, and I didn't think that was a deficit. Plot-wise, I liked the interwoven POVs and I liked Nathaniel, a lot. Tori, at times, seems deliberately obtuse, but she comes to terms with her position in the tangled history with Nathaniel, Emmeline and the Slaughters past and present. It doesn't help that the current Slaughters are experiencing unprecedented tragedy--including blight, fire and death--and they pin it to the arrival of Tori and her family. It's a mystery why these events are occurring, to everyone but Nathaniel, Tori and an elderly black neighbor who knows more than her family with believe. I liked how this turned out in the end, with much faster pacing and a tumultuous climax. For me, the book is an interesting allegory for the power of greed to destroy and of love to reclaim/redeem. That said, it's still troubling how little assistance was available for Tori, with both her grief and her cutting. I received a review copy via NetGalley.
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  • Ryann Crofoot
    June 3, 2017
    *I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**You can find reviews and more book fun at Ryann the ReaderThe short version: It wasn't awful, but I had a lot of issues with it. While the synopsis seemed interesting, it did very little to prepare me for the majority of the book.The long version: Honestly, I feel this book should have come with some sort of trigger warning. Seriously, if you are sensitive to self-harm topics, I would pass on this book (and probably *I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**You can find reviews and more book fun at Ryann the ReaderThe short version: It wasn't awful, but I had a lot of issues with it. While the synopsis seemed interesting, it did very little to prepare me for the majority of the book.The long version: Honestly, I feel this book should have come with some sort of trigger warning. Seriously, if you are sensitive to self-harm topics, I would pass on this book (and probably the next four paragraphs). Some of the self-harm scenes are really in-depth, especially the ones right in the beginning; you know, the ones readers are utterly unprepared for. I think I understand what the author was trying to get at: this idea that we're haunted by pasts that are sometimes out of our control, and we sometimes go to extreme measures to get past it. And, I'll admit, I think the reason behind Tori's self-harm is sometimes portrayed realistically: she a person who has felt a lot of emotional pain and sometimes has the need to feel in control of some of that pain. The fact that self-harm was in the book doesn't bother me.What does bother me is the way it is portrayed. For starters, there is absolutely no warning anywhere. Not in the synopsis or even in any of the pages before the story actually starts. I was completely caught off-guard when, a few pages into the story, I'm reading a rather in-depth cutting scene. If someone who was struggling with self-harm were to read it, I would honestly be a little nervous about how they would react. Thing #2 that bothered me about it is that it is often rewarded. The first time Tori cuts, a beautiful boy comes out of his grave. Later in the story, she gets all kinds of romantic attention from him because of her scars and wounds. And in the end, she cuts herself, and it saves the boy she has mysteriously fallen in love with. Stop rewarding self-harm, especially in a book written for an audience who is known for struggling with it. Issue #3 I had with the representation of self-harm is that it is never actually resolved. Tori is still (somewhat regularly) cutting herself as the story wraps up. Then, The final few pages skip forward about six months, and suddenly she's like, "Oh yeah, I don't do that anymore." It never showed her in the healing process, never showed the people in her life trying to support her through it. It's just, one minute she's in a bad place, and the next, it's all okay. If you're going to write a protagonist who self-harms, please at least show them getting to the light at the end of the tunnel, so your readers know they're not alone when they struggle to heal.Even after that (rather long) rant, I still had some issues with the story. The supporting characters were pretty weak; we really only get in the heads of Nathaniel and Tori. It was a bad case of "boy fixes everything;" Tori is all doom and gloom until Nathaniel shows up, and suddenly she remembers how to smile. I wouldn't necessarily say there's insta-love, but I will say if a boy bruises me pretty badly in the process of rising from the grave, I'm not about to hide him in my shed and dress him in my late father's clothes. And I didn't really like Tori. She was kind of rude and closed off to everyone other than the boy she met three days ago, which made it kind of hard to root for her. It was also hard because I felt like the Slaughters were much more the victim than she was. They had also been through and lost a lot, and here someone comes in and takes some of their land, which, as far as they honestly know, rightfully belongs to them. Yes, they could get a little mean and obnoxious, but I didn't see them as the villains they were made out to be.I know I should probably wrap things up, so I'll leave it at this, I thought this book had a good premise, and it had some pretty strong elements (I didn't DNF, after all). But, between the self-harm, weak characters, and a few other cliche issues, I found the actual meat of the story to be problematic. I would be incredibly cautious about recommending this book.
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  • Cassi
    June 18, 2017
    I was really excited to read this book. It is totally up my alley, historical mystery with subtle magic. And while it was an interesting read I quite love it how I was hoping.One thing I did like about this book was the atmosphere and world of this book. When it comes to this kind of historical mystery, the most important thing is that world. You have to establish interest in both the present and the past. The author definitely managed to do that. With flashbacks to the past she established what I was really excited to read this book. It is totally up my alley, historical mystery with subtle magic. And while it was an interesting read I quite love it how I was hoping.One thing I did like about this book was the atmosphere and world of this book. When it comes to this kind of historical mystery, the most important thing is that world. You have to establish interest in both the present and the past. The author definitely managed to do that. With flashbacks to the past she established what life was like for indentured servants, and in present day the high stakes plot added to the drama. Both settings were equally engaging and while I did prefer the ones in the past I never felt like I'd rather be in the opposite place, which is common. Then of course there was the magic added. I usually like my books with a lot of magic but the subtle amount here just added to the drama and mystery.Which was the other thing I liked about this book, I liked the mystery and plot development. This is a book that is full of surprises and twists. Some of them were pretty easy to solve and others of them were not. As the book unfolded it did so in a way that there were more and more surprises and a big finish that was full of action. There were kind of two mysteries here and each of them were interesting but if I'm being entirely honest I did feel like they were a little needlessly complicated. With one of them I felt like I had an obvious solution that could solved things much sooner and with the other I felt like it had a left field reveal. However I was engaged in both their conclusions and with a lot of mysteries that isn't the case.But I will say, I didn't really like the pacing of this book. It's not a particularly long book but it did take me awhile to get into it. It's one of those books that does built to an exciting conclusion but it took it's sweet time to get there. It took me three days to read the first half of the book and then I read the second half in a day. And even then it felt like it was progressing slowly. I wanted it to get to the big finish but it just wasn't getting there. I wish it had been a little more evenly paced.I also didn't really like the characters here. It's not that they weren't interesting. For example, many of the secondary characters were pretty odious which is what you want to see when it comes to a mystery. But the main characters just didn't impress me much. They just didn't jump off the page. I think for the most part they just fell a little flat because they didn't have much personality. The main character Tori was fine and I liked the fact that she stuck up for herself and her family but it honestly felt a little misplaced at times. I couldn't quite figure her out and that made it hard to connect. And then there was Nathaniel, the romantic lead. He also just didn't seem to have much of a personality. And their relationship I just didn't understand. It wasn't really instalove but it had all the hallmarks of that trope. I kept hoping that they weren't going to get together because there was nothing really connecting them and then suddenly they did. I think I just wanted a little more from the characterizations here.But in general it was an okay read. I'm a plot driven reader so I enjoyed how it all unfolded and the way the mystery revealed itself. There was a lot of drama and an atmospheric setting to keep me engaged. I just wish it paced a little more evenly and there was better characterizations.I think fans of YA historical mysteries will enjoy this book and should check it out. There's a lot to like for fans of the genre or for those just looking to tip their toe in and try it out.
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  • Rachel
    June 13, 2017
    THE SUFFERING TREE is a dark and intriguing story whose title will pique your curiosity, whose secrets will keep you riveted, whose characters will break your heart, and whose mysteries will keep you guessing. It is a tragic and romantic and thrilling tale of loss and love and greed and vengeance. It is haunting and magical and unsettling and interesting and is a read that promises to be unforgettable.Tori Burns had no idea why Alistair Slaughter Senior had bequeathed the home and land she now r THE SUFFERING TREE is a dark and intriguing story whose title will pique your curiosity, whose secrets will keep you riveted, whose characters will break your heart, and whose mysteries will keep you guessing. It is a tragic and romantic and thrilling tale of loss and love and greed and vengeance. It is haunting and magical and unsettling and interesting and is a read that promises to be unforgettable.Tori Burns had no idea why Alistair Slaughter Senior had bequeathed the home and land she now resided in and on to her family. The Slaughter family had owned the land for centuries, and his descendants were not at all happy with what he’d done.It was hard enough being a new arrival in Chaptico, Maryland. But being an enemy of the Slaughters and having a secret she is ashamed of makes her even more of an outsider. And with the nightmares she’s been having, the misfortune that suddenly befalls the Slaughters, the strange things that start happening, and the mysterious arrival of Nathaniel Bishop, there is no chance that she’ll be able to adjust to her new reality.Not until she finds out just what Nathaniel is doing there, learns what her family’s connection is to the Slaughters, figures out how to keep the Slaughters from taking back her family’s inheritance, and uncovers the secrets they don’t want coming to light.Elle Cosimano crafted a fascinating and different story that gives readers a glimpse at a past that is harsh and heartrending, introduces characters who are captivating and diverse, touches upon issues past and present that are tough and uncomfortable and disturbing, and offers up an enthralling puzzle to solve. Add to this a witch, a curse, blood magic, forbidden love, deception, revenge, and murder, and it is a read that will be unputdownable.Full of twists and turns and surprises, THE SUFFERING TREE is gripping and chilling and foreboding. It doesn’t shy away from mentioning the cruelty and the injustices that were commonplace in the past or from discussing Tori’s drastic coping mechanism. But it isn’t overwhelmed by these issues. The history, the mystery, the romance, the magic, combine into a story that is absolutely spellbinding.
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  • Tracie D'angelo
    June 4, 2017
    **Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a honest review.*Tori’s dad passed away over a year ago and since then the family had lost their home. Thankfully and surprisingly, Tori’s mom was sent notice that the family was to receive property and a house on land in Chaptico, Maryland. With no other choices, the family moved to a very small town in southern Maryland. While out in the cemetery, by the giant dead oak, Tori cut herself and watched as the blood dripped from her arm and into **Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a honest review.*Tori’s dad passed away over a year ago and since then the family had lost their home. Thankfully and surprisingly, Tori’s mom was sent notice that the family was to receive property and a house on land in Chaptico, Maryland. With no other choices, the family moved to a very small town in southern Maryland. While out in the cemetery, by the giant dead oak, Tori cut herself and watched as the blood dripped from her arm and into the soil. As the ground shook, a hand reached out of the soil. Nathanial Bishop pulled himself out of the ground, reborn from a curse hundreds of years old. Tori lived on Slaughter land and the Slaughter’s history was long and wrought with secrets that both Tori and Nathaniel are twisted into. It is up to Tori to unravel that history and find out what brought Nathaniel back from the dead and who is trying to stop those secrets from coming back as well. I am thankful that The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano was no disappointment and just as gripping as Nearly Gone. Written from multiple viewpoints, the reader gets dialog from Nathaniel and Emmeline’s time as the story unfolds in present time. Ms. Cosimano does a wonderful job at weaving a long family history involving a powerful land owner and two child indentured servants from England. I feel I must mention that the main character uses self-harm to maintain stress levels. I thought that this was pretty gutsy for a writer to have a main character involved in this, but it worked and it was fitting to the story. It was nice that, in the end, Tori felt like she didn’t have to do that anymore. I also have to mention that I thought it was really cool that the story took place not to far from where I live so seeing familiar cities and counties was pretty neat! Then there’s the end…the end. I truly loved the end and sat for a while afterwards and just let the tears flow. I’ll have this story in the back of mind for a while. I completely recommend The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano. Summer is coming and this book deserves to go vacation with you!!!
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  • Janie G
    June 13, 2017
    The Suffering Tree is a beautifully constructed novel with tons of plot and character development. As Tori struggles to overcome tragedy from her past and make a place for herself in a new community she is nearly consumed by self-harming behaviors. Her defenses and fears finally begin to break down as a new friendship develops. I loved the themes interwoven into the story, every theme is explored in a way that shows both positive and negative sides. Blood is important in so many ways, it served The Suffering Tree is a beautifully constructed novel with tons of plot and character development. As Tori struggles to overcome tragedy from her past and make a place for herself in a new community she is nearly consumed by self-harming behaviors. Her defenses and fears finally begin to break down as a new friendship develops. I loved the themes interwoven into the story, every theme is explored in a way that shows both positive and negative sides. Blood is important in so many ways, it served to divide people and bind them together. The strength of friendship and family is shown as both empowering and destructive. I feel the need to address some of the complaints from other reviewers who have given this book poor reviews, I think they are a bit overblown. It is certainly necessary to be upfront about the content in this book and how it may affect potential readers. I think the negative aspects of self-harm and cutting behavior are well represented. Tori suffers from an enormous amount of shame and doubt, it changes her family dynamics, her friendships, and her ability to connect with others. I imagine this could be further explored to emphasis how she isn't just physically damaging herself, she is emotionally damaging herself and those around her, BUT there is a subtext within the novel about how one action can cause a multitude of reactions. One moment, big or small, can influence everything that comes after.Overall, The Suffering Tree is a lovely exploration of character as Tori works through her own secrets to discover acceptance, while other characters cannot get over the shame and secrets of their past enabling it to destroy them. It is a dark and thoughtful book with a complex plot and much tragedy for the characters.I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
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  • Ionia
    June 14, 2017
    I realise that a lot of people have taken issue with this book for the graphic descriptions of self harm involved in the story, and I can understand why to some extent. Still, this is a fictional book, and that is what I'm keeping in mind when writing this review. I did not judge fiction books on their ability to make people so things they ordinarily would not do. If a fictional character can fly after jumping off a ten story building, I'm not going to try it just because I read about it. I thou I realise that a lot of people have taken issue with this book for the graphic descriptions of self harm involved in the story, and I can understand why to some extent. Still, this is a fictional book, and that is what I'm keeping in mind when writing this review. I did not judge fiction books on their ability to make people so things they ordinarily would not do. If a fictional character can fly after jumping off a ten story building, I'm not going to try it just because I read about it. I thought this was a very well-written, unique and wonderful story and that is why it earned five stars in my opinion. If you like YA books that have outstanding and memorable characters, this is one that you want to get your hands on. From the very first few pages this book hooked me into the story and refused to let go. I found myself walking around with my kindle because I didn't want to put it down to do menial life tasks without reading the next paragraph. I liked Tori right away and found her family's situation interesting. The chapters often began with things that happened in the past and that was just as interesting as the current story. Although Emmeline was not a character in the present portion of the book, she was integral to the plot and I liked her character a lot as well. There were a lot of surprises and unexpected events in this book and it thrilled me to uncover them a page at a time. This book has stayed with me since I finished reading it a few weeks ago, and I would happily recommend it to those that like a bit of magic and mystery with their historical YA. The romance was sweet and the ending was great. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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  • Jeanny
    May 11, 2017
    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 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.
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