I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Pine by Francine Toon
Published by Transworld on January 23 2020
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Horror, General
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she's gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren's mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father's turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it's no longer clear who she can trust. In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.
Just where do I start? Francine Toon has spun a beautifully unsettling story. Her imagination for novel writing is what Einstein was to science. The book cover is completely apt – it visualises everything the story promises to be. It’s desolate, it’s eerie and it’s intensely unnerving. If you have followed this blog tour and you haven’t added this to your TBR – well, there is something wrong with you! This book and it’s captivating writing has been building in hushed tones upto a deafening crescendo that refuses to quiet. This is a book that just won’t stop. Be prepared to get sucked into its pages and become one with the story.
Insanely captivating. Pine has the same effect as a rollercoaster. You are fully prepared for it to leave you spinning and delirious, but you can’t be expected to prepare for the break neck speed of the narrative. This was an unputdownable novel, it’s an overused description but the term was absolutely coined for this story. I felt haunted and deeply uncomfortable. Always the sign of an exquisite read. One chapter is all it took to pull me down into the murky depths of it’s narrative. It felt like icy tendrils determined to pull me under to my death. It is chillingly fantastic.
Our main character, Lauren (10) stay with her dad, Neil in a very small Scottish town. Immediately you can feel the eeriness creeping in like a thick fog. Suffocating. Blinding. Panicky. Who is the young woman that keeps appearing? Random occurrences, sometimes just brief but other times she stays that bit longer. Lauren however, has the ability to retain memory of her interactions with the spectre. What connection does this have? There is something truly unnerving about the interactions with Lauren, a child. The parallels between a child grieving for her absent mother and you can see the cogs turning in her mind about the possibility of her imagining these happenings. Lauren comes to you in an almost ethereal state herself. She’s dreamlike. The entire plot captures the thin line between childhood innocence and adulthood. That time in-between is hazy and grey and difficult to navigate.
I don’t want to spoil any of the plot because it is exquisite. It deserved to be enjoyed first hand and experienced in rapture. The author is a master and she abducts you, throws you in the boot of her car and drives you into the night. Its futile to fight. She dumps you into the unknown and leaves you to navigate the inky darkness alone. The author blew me away in a way that I didn’t think was possible. She’s created characters that are so endearing they spoke to soul. I closed the book feeling overwhelmed and edgy. She ticked all the boxes in the formulaic equation to a psychological thriller that I look for.
Pine is deliciously dark and creepy. It rejects originality and pushes forward and forges its own way. It’s claustrophobic and dreamlike and utterly captivating.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Francine Toon grew up in Sutherland and Fife, Scotland. Her poetry, written as Francine Elena, has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Best British Poetry 2013 and 2015 anthologies (Salt) and Poetry London, among other places. Pine was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. She lives in London and works in publishing. Follow her on Twitter @FrancineElena