Calling this a horror is a bit of a deception. Some of the events are horrific, but not in the "things that go bump in the night" way. Also, this seems to be written for a younger audience, likely middle-grade (weird as I picked up my copy from the Young Adult section).
Instead, I feel as if my guts have been ripped out. What a heart-rending tale! And yet so brilliantly written!
Recommended to fans of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book".
Conor O'Malley has been having one dream, one nightmare - the nightmare to end all nightmares. Then one day, the yew tree outside his window comes alive and approaches Conor with this offer: three stories to hear Conor's nightmare.
How I came to know about this book is a process many avid bookreaders are familiar with. I learned about it through my friends on Goodreads. I saw the book in a bookstore later and picked it up. And it wasn't until the scary season of Halloween that I decided to read this book. And read I did - I devoured it in a few hours (stretched across an entire day - a beautiful way to read a book BTW).
Now, I should say right about here that labeling this book as "horror" is a bit deceptive. There are horror elements, but really, it's more of an introspective book. A book about a child (actually teenager, as Conor is 13) coming to grips with some really crappy things happening in his life. A book about a child's reaction to life, loss, love, bullying, change, etc. The yew tree transforming into a giant Ent of sorts is just the vehicle for this change. I say this because, if you go into this expecting to be creeped out of your mind like watching scary movies (Halloween, The Ring, Paranormal Activity, etc.), you could be disappointed. A part of me was.
But the other part of me was not. Another part of me was very pleased at what I read. My heart was tugged all over the place. I was slightly spooked by Conor's dream and the yew tree. I felt sad for Conor and what he was going through. There were so many FEELINGS this book generated in me - and it nearly made me cry at points, a thing that isn't particularly easy to do.
You may be wondering why I am so vague, why I don't just come out and say what is bugging Conor. The thing is, I feel it is so integral to the story, that saying what is going on will spoil it (though I'm sure the more astute will already be able to figure out what is troubling Conor). I didn't realize what the story was really about until I was a good 50 pages in, so I figure that to say too much would be to spoil it for others. And I've gotten snapped at for less, so...there...
Patrick Ness has written a beautiful story that can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike. From the beautiful illustrations to the gorgeous writing that never talks down to you, from the intricate characters to the creative story within a story, Patrick Ness creates his own fairytale of sorts, a horrific fairytale if you will, that helps Conor work through his issues.
As I was reading, I couldn't help but think of Neil Gaiman, ofThe Graveyard Book. That is what this book reminds me of. It's beautiful, it's creative, but it also has a deeper message than you might think from the outside. I greatly enjoyed it and recommend it (though not if you are looking for Halloween spooks).