The Red Tree

The Red Tree Sarah Crowe Left Atlanta, And The Remnants Of A Tumultuous Relationship, To Live Alone In An Old House In Rural Rhode Island Within Its Walls She Discovers An Unfinished Manuscript Written By The House S Former Tenant A Parapsychologist Obsessed With The Ancient Oak Growing On A Desolate Corner Of The Property And As The Gnarled Tree Takes Root In Her Imagination, Sarah Risks Her Health And Her Sanity To Unearth A Revelation Planted Centuries Ago

Caitl n Rebekah Kiernan born 26 May 1964 is the author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels many comic books and than two hundred published short stories, novellas, and vignettes She is also the author of scientific papers in the field of paleontology from Wikipedia

[Read] ➵ The Red Tree ➼ Caitlín R. Kiernan –
  • Audiobook
  • The Red Tree
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • English
  • 08 January 2018

10 thoughts on “The Red Tree

  1. says:

    I have admired Caitlin Kiernan s short stories for some time now, so I was excited about finally getting to one of her novels I wasn t disappointed The Red Tree is a very ambitious effort, an accomplished metafiction that is certainly horrific, but also stands as a piece of literature It s a damn shame the book is saddled with some of the worst, and most misleading, cover art I ve seen in some time It s packaged as a YA novel, with a brooding goth chick on the front If I were to rate this, like a film, I would give it a NC 17 The novel deserves better than that, and should be on the short shelf of genre fans, beside Shirley Jackson s Haunting of Hill House, Straub s Ghost Story IMHO, RT is better , Arthur Machen s collected stories, Poe, and of course Lovecraft The story, a first person narrative, is about a middle aged writer, Sarah Crowe, who moves to rural Rhode Island after the death a suicide of her lover, Amanda Sarah is suffering from writer s block, and a dwindling bank account She sets up shop in a very old farm house, whose previous occupant, a teacher and writer from a nearby college, has committed suicide As Sarah explores the house, she discovers the teacher s unfinished manuscript, a study on local folklore very Blair Witch , with a particular focus on a supposedly haunted red oak tree which is about 70 yards from the house Sarah is not a reliable narrator What follows is a slow disintegration that is hardly detectable at first Kieran s skill in unfolding this disintegration which is incredibly sad is about as nuanced as any I have read In the field of horror, you can t help but be reminded of Jackson s Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House But the echoes, or homages, are faint, since Kiernan is entirely her own writer, a true original Her ability to integrate influences and one major one here is Carrol s Alice s Adventure s in Wonderland is astounding, leaving the reader wanting to look up the various influences for this fine novel I m reluctant to reveal much There are stories within stories, and you need to keep alert to the various clues If you like your horror simple, with Good vs Evil, with a Final Resolution, you will be disappointed But if you like your reality blurred, and like to see an emphasis on atmosphere, then you should enjoy The Red Tree Why this novel didn t win some sort of award Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson , is beyond me I ve read enough within the genre to know this one is special.

  2. says:

    No offence to the illustrator of the officially published cover but here is the appropriate cover that better represents the content soul of the book.

  3. says:

    Sarah Crowe is a writer suffering from writer s block after her relationship with her girlfriend comes to a devastating end She decides to rent an isolated old farm house out in the boonies of Rhode Island to recover and hide from the world.Whilst poking around in the home she comes across an old typewriter which eventually leads her to a manuscript obsessing on the red tree on the property written by a previous renter who committed suicide on the grounds Sarah begins to have increasingly strange dreams and as the story progresses she finds herself becoming obsessed with the tree herself and has difficulty discerning reality from her odd dream world.The book is a disturbing first person account of one woman s slow slide into madness It s very unsettling and definitely gets under the skin The history of the red tree may or may not include human sacrifice, cannibalism, and lycanthropy Is it real or all in Sarah s mind This is one of the best I ve read by Kiernan.

  4. says:

    I was pulled in by the good reviewsand left disappointed.Let me preface this by saying I don t mind character driven stories I don t mind moody and atmospheric stories that can sometimes leave the reader with questions than answers I don t need everything spelled out In the world of creepy novels, sometimes the less that s said, the better because the imagination takes off and can creep you out than what s written.All of that being said, I was bored to tears and completely not creeped out or disturbed by this novel which seems to be just a bunch of rambling thoughts with no real story to pin it all together.Sarah Crowe is an author She is also a lesbian which really shouldn t matter all that much if it weren t for the author s painstaking interjections to remind us of that very fact that suffers from seizures and curses like a sailor on shore leave Her live in lover had died many months ago and she decides to go to a pretty remote area of Rhode Island to work on her next book While exploring her temporary home and workplace she happens upon a manuscript called the Red Tree written by a local professor who just so happened to be lodging himself in the same place Sarah now finds herself He also killed himself before he could finish the book.The Red Tree is part of the local folklore, actually a few hundred yards away from the house in which she now stays, dating back a couple of centuries Tales of blood filled apples, people drawn to the tree, human sacrifice Sarah finds herself inexplicably drawn to reading the manuscript in the midst of writer s block What follows is her decent into madness.On a clever note, the novel is told in such as way as to make the reader believe it was delivered to a local editor and is supposed to read like a series of journal entries Think Blair Witch Project here The film myseriously found in the woods that chronicles the last days of the ill fated film students lives, etc, etc.The subject and some of the folklore of the tree itself is bordering on interesting as well I just had a hard time with this book for several reasons.It s not really a story It s a series of rambling entries and self exploration by the author and main character, Sarah Crowe It rambles so much as to have left me feeling like saying ok, get to the point.The main character is completely unlikeable To me there are two character archetypes The ones you love to love and the ones you love to hate Sarah Crowe is neither She s crass and has bad habits Which is fine for a character, main or otherwise In this instance, however, it seems as if her bad language and depressing behavior is completely forced There is a liberal use of both F and C bombs in this novel, but it never rings true with the character Just rings of the author trying to show how edgy she can be and to almost hammer the point home that the character dances to her own beat We get it Really, we do.In addition there are constant quotes and references to classic authors and their works Poe, Thoreau, Carroll, etc, etc, as if to show off Sarah Crowe s literary prowess I get that she s an author and that she s well read, however, once again, I m not impressed and it just felt like the point was being driven home too hard.The psychosexual interludes put in the book really serve zero purpose Once again, I think they re just there to add to the nebulous nature of the story telling and just to shock They added nothing to the story.In the end what people have described as creepy and atmospheric just came off to me as being rambling and odd It is kind of ironic though that Sarah Crowe makes several railing barbs about and it s quasi critics Well, I guess that would be me Alot of people seemed to have really enjoyed this book and her other works, but at the end of the story, it s just not my cup of tea and I think I ll be staying out of Kiernan s sandbox for the foreseeable future.

  5. says:

    music Ramones I Don t Want To Go Down To The Basement both doesn t fit and does there s many reasons why the house s basement, that Sarah lives in in this story, is scary and dangerous this book reminds me a lot of the author s own voice something of her and her life seems to be over this After leaving Atlanta, and the tragic end of her relationship with her girlfiend, Sarah Crowe is determined to rest and finish her novel living alone on Wight Farm, in rural Rhode Island But as she wanders around the house, she discovers in the cellar several pages of previous occupant s, Dr Charles Harvey s, unfinished book He was a parapsyhologist with an obsession on stories about the ancient, tall red oak, which still stood in one corner of the property Many legends of magic and misfortune have been connected to the tree, and soon Sarah notices its strange hold on her, and how a trip to visit it isn t always as easy as it looks And when another woman comes to live for summer in the attic above her, things escalateThe story is written in diary form, lasting a few months during the summer of 2008 The book is credited both to Sarah and Dr Harvey as he is heavily quoted , so it s a book with the same title as the book we are reading The editor has added a bit of Sarah s own writings in there at the end The entries start in May, though she arrives at the end of April.The other person there, painter Constance Hopkins, is a good pair for us in moving the story along It s true that her and Sarah frequently fight, but she s a source of information here and there, and Sarah does end up caring for her safety even while resenting her As the editor says, he tried to contact Hopkins afterwards, but she refused to comment There s a strange twist to the story regarding her view spoiler in the end Sarah finds the attic looking like Hopkins never arrived to live there, nor do we have absolute certainty in how she left the place, if she did live there that summer We have just leaves all over the things she left behind she seems to have taken nothing away with her hide spoiler

  6. says:

    There are few things that terrify me than the thought of my brain ceasing to function properly I can imagine dozens of truly horrifying situations and experiences I might be forced to endure, but I know from simple moments where I can t remember a name, or a word that I should be intimately familiar with, that if I had to question my own sanity, or worry that others were questioning it, I d be off the ledge and free falling pretty quickly.In The Red Tree, Caitlin Kiernan delivers exactly that fear through the words and thoughts of her protagonist, Sarah Crowe Sarah has left behind a life crippled by the suicide of her lover, whose name we never learn because when she writes about her, she calls her by another name She has retreated to a small house in Rhode Island to write her next novel and get herself together The author also manages to make you care that both of these things, in fact, happen The author is not to be trusted.Sarah finds that the previous tenant of her new retreat was an author a parapsychologist researching the murky history surrounding a huge Red Oak tree That tree stands within easy site of the windows of her new home, and the history is a crazy one filled with hints of ancient evil, sacrifice, and lycanthrope That previous tenant committed suicide There s a lot of that in the novel Sarah finds his manuscript hidden in a basement that is not exactly a basement sometimes.This is the point in a review I hate I have a lot to say about this book, but a lot of what I d like to say gives away too much The point is, everything that happens to Sarah feels very real You get an almost Lovecraftian sensation of worlds overlapping at some mystic portal You can feel the ancient ley lines rippling beneath the foundations of the old house, and through the roots of the tree The stories, the reports of strange happenings surrounding this arboreal menace throughout history, add to the sensation of other worldliness, and strengthen either the reality of the events in the book or the foundations of the insanity invading Sarah s brain.The thing is that there s a very fine line involved in this story It s possible that it s the story of an eroding mind, locked away and unable to cope with a string of events that began decades earlier when the protagonist witnessed a traumatic event It s also possible that it s a detailed narration of one person s encounter with unknown, unknowable forces There may be a girl named Amanda, and another named Constance or it might be a story written and typed by an author no longer in any type of contact with reality It might be the rendering of insanity into words, created in solitude.And at its core, that s what this book is about Solitude Loneliness Different characters deal with these issues throughout the novel, all through the filter of Sarah s mind and the words she types These words include a story she doesn t even remember writing, and yet believes that she did write We never know if she did, or did not, if the events in the story are real, or merely a version of some similar event in Sarah s past the relationship that drove her to isolation and despair it s impossible for the reader to tell.The true terror is in the fact that, in the case of many things that either happen or do not happen during the course of the novel, the protagonist finds herself unable to separate one from the other If it s all happening, the world as she knows it is a lie If it s not happening, she s going or has already gone insane Even the source of that insanity external from the oak tree or internal is in question As I said, the author is not to be trusted The book, though It s amazing.I m not going to belabor a point that I have covered in the past, or that others have covered eloquently Genre fiction is littered with mediocrity It s much easier for an okay author to write weird fiction and get away with it Following trends and writing to the clich of the day is the norm Caitlin Kiernan marches to the beat of her own drummer She is literate, educated, and in touch with the levels of her mind that shift images to words with precision and power This is not a horror novel, it s a Caitlin Kiernan novel and to my way of thinking that s a much precious thing There are only a handful of authors of whom you ll hear me say that.I highly recommend this novel to anyone, but in particular to fans of Lovecraft or Ramsey Campbell, The characters are very real, but the world is surreal and untrustworthy enough that it might take multiple readings to get everything straight in your mind.

  7. says:

    I wanted to like this than I did A glance through the other negative ambivalent reviews shows a lot of disappointment in harsh language, and than a touch of thinly veiled homophobia let me say now, clearly and unequivocally those were not my issues with this book I think the narrator s Sarah s voice got to me, which made it difficult to enjoy the book, since it s written in the form of her journal She should be an incredibly sympathetic character within the first few pages, you know that a she s been through a lot before any of the book takes place, and b she will go through a lot before the book is over But there was something about her I just couldn t get behind There was just this sort of annoyingly self aware, faux gritty tone to it all that drove me crazy it s the same sort of vibe that regularly makes me put down urban fantasy books I do think that maybe if a bit had been devoted to her actual thoughts or emotions things about Amanda, or about her seizures I would have found her relatable I don t need characters to be sunshiney and happy and likable all the time, but I do want to care a little bit, you know.And some of the touches that were supposed to make it feel like a journal actually had the opposite effect the reminders that things were paraphrased from memory, pointing out when something had been copied down into a conveniently placed notebook, etc The overly specific music choices, too maybe the author Kiernan, not her author character actually does take the time to note in her own journal exactly what she s listening to at any given time I know I don t I think this would have worked better as a traditional first person narrative without the journal conceit, but I see how that would have compromised some of the story s structure There were also a couple of places where I felt threads had been dropped, which seems like a big flaw.I like books with unreliable narrators, I like books with slow descents into madness and or uncertainty, I like books with invented historical documents And, at times, I did like this Constance and Sarah s relationship was always interesting, if often frustrating as it was meant to be The cellar, the House of Leaves esque bits, and what seemed to be a very well drawn location I ve never been to Rhode Island, so I can t speak to the authenticity, but it sure felt real were all much appreciated I just felt like if Sarah s personality was meant to be the glue that bound everything together, it wasn t working.Edit after writing this, I read a little bit about the author, and was surprised by just how much of Sarah Crowe is drawn directly from Caitlin Kiernan s own life It makes the darker, less appealing sides of Sarah understandable Kiernan doesn t seem like the type to write up an idealized version of herself, and, in fact, seems likely to be extra hard on herself in this fictionalized form I still didn t love the book, but knowing how personal it was to the author does change my view a bit.

  8. says:

    Please ignore the god awful, paranormal romance cover art This book is not even VAGUELY romanticthough it certainly is paranormal Cait Kiernan is one of my favourite authors, and this is beyond any shadow of a doubt her best book since Threshold, the first of her longer works I d ever read The Red Tree is a swirling, delerious, and very troubling descent into the same realm of New England horror first mapped out by Hawthorne and H P Lovecraft but, unlike their works, this one has no tidy conclusions, no resolutionsonly revelations Revelations that barely make any sense whatsoever I d even venture to say this book has no pronounced plot, but is an assemblage of ever stranger and ever creepier scenes held together by the narration of main character Sarah Crowe But this is most emphatically NOT a Bad Thing The Red Tree is a fast read, because it s just so gripping Kiernan has an amazing faculty at presenting tantalizing bits of detail but leaving ultimate interpretations to the reader which gives the novel a sort of puzzle like atmosphere However, it s not a puzzle that can be easily solved, if at all It s a Rubik s cube of a book, only the colored tiles have been so scrambled that reassembling them may be damnear impossiblebut this is good because the challenge of understanding is always so much fulfilling than the solution The best books are those that haunt you long after you ve finished reading them, and believe me, The Red Tree will haunt you with all the Fortean indeterminacy of a shower of frogs You will obsess over it You will fight to understand it Goddamn it, you will hate it and love it and pick it apart with your friendsand maybe, possibly, you ll figure it out But your conclusions will be your own, and may be completely different than anyone else s.I m going right back and reading it again.Oh, and there are ghouls in it Richard Upton Pickman would be proud

  9. says:

    A haunting, beautifully wrought exercise in uncertainty that pushes just about every button I have when it comes to tension, horror, and the supernatural Kiernan hates to be called a horror writer, and while part of me sypmathizes the rest of me doesn t give a damn Horror wouldn t be a shame to be associated with if it were primarily identified with this sort of multi faceted and subtle work This is a gobsmackingly good study of stress, illness, inevitability, folklore, haunted places, and above all not having easy answers offered up on a spoon just before the pages run out. An eerie and unsettling masterpiece This inadequate thumbnail sketch will have to do until I can pry the novel apart at greater length.

  10. says:

    Caitlin R Kiernan certainly has a way with words, doesn t she Wow It took me a minute to get into the swing of it, but I m so glad I kept going If you like Neil Gaiman s style, I have a feeling you ll love The Red Tree I need to read of this author s work in the future.

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