This is a chilling novella set in the late 70’s about two young boys who are forced to face down their biggest fears at the source, the wicked and scary (or wicked scary, if you’re from my neck of the woods) “Bone Tree”.
Set in a simpler time, back when boys looked forward to a new batch of comics, played with Atari’s, watched The Incredible Hulk on tv and dealt with bullies by using their fists, The Bone Tree really captures the period and blends the mundane and the eerie seamlessly. Kevin and Bobby are best friends and two good kids who enjoy nothing more than spending their afternoons hiding up in a tree reading their comics. One day they spot a younger kid running in terror through the woods who says he’s being chased by a “shadow man”. They walk him home, see the shadow man themselves and run into the clearing where the terrible and strangely beautiful bone tree resides. They swear they can feel the spirits that surround it and are soon plagued by fear.
Some terrible things happen in “The Bone Tree” but the crafty thing here is that it isn’t all up in your face. The author has a way of alluding to events which put fear in your heart but he doesn’t get all gory on you. It’s a short novella but it’s packed full of fabulous description and has lots of heart. It made me go all misty eyed over the deep felt connections between the characters and that’s what I love most about reading.
Kevin watching Bobby great his mom:
“She pulled him into her arms. At twelve years old, he was almost as tall as she was. She hugged him tight, closed her eyes and the expression on her face was one of pure joy. Seemed like she felt about him the way I felt about my mom. Like a hug or a smile from her boy was all she needed to erase the meanness of life for a while.”
Unexpected moments like these melted my heart and made me care about the characters. It’s a nicely done creepy, coming of age short that never forgets that it’s the characters who make or break a book. I’ll have to check out more by this author.