The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano – a Review
“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.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she 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 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.
The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano is a Young Adult suspense romance novel. Tori Burns has recently lost her father, so when they receive notice that they have inherited land and property in Chaptico, Maryland, her family jumps at the chance to move. Although the reasons why the house has come to them is mysterious and sketchy, they move from the D.C. area – making Chaptico their new home. But the locals aren’t nearly as welcoming as they would like them to be. Especially the Slaughter family who up until a week ago owned the house and land they now occupy! The Slaughter roots run deep in Chaptico, and the Burns family are considered transplants, and not well liked by any means, in fact some are saying they stole the house from the Slaughters.
With all the chaos and turmoil the new move has brought – it brings Tori back to self-harm, something that has previously put her in the hospital. From the moment they arrived Tori started having bad, vivid dreams. On one particularly bad night a dream awakens her with a startle. She dresses and runs outside to the little cemetery and large oak tree on her property, that she is always mysteriously drawn to. With everything building, the townspeople, the Slaughters – Tori does the one thing she knows will release her and ease her misery. She cuts herself. And in that moment, below the oak tree, the ground moved. The earth erupted and from below that oak tree, aged, withered and worn – a young man emerged. Clawing his way out of his earthly grave. And in that moment, Tori could not believe her eyes. Surely they have betrayed her. But when the young man, covered in mud and dirt touches her, she lost consciousness.
Nathaniel Bishop does not know why he has returned. Only that he has. And one thing is clear, his hate for what the Slaughter’s have done to him many years ago runs as deep as the roots of this old oak tree. Once Tori realizes that Nathaniel isn’t here to hurt her, she comes to befriend him, but little does she know that her life and that of Nathaniel’s are intertwined. As she dissects and investigates the mysterious reason that has brought her here, she soon comes to realize that the Slaughter’s secrets run deep and that they would stop at nothing to keep those secrets in the family. But at what price, and what will the end results be for not only Tori but for Nathaniel as well?
I enjoyed Tori from page one, and I completely understand from which the self-harm has come from. I don’t believe this story will be everyone’s cup of tea, as self-harm is quite taboo but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and completely understood the correlation of Tori’s self harm and Nathaniel’s resurrection. The interweaving of the story of what has brought Tori to Slaughter Farm and the telling of the past of how Nathaniel came to Chaptico – and how he ended up buried under the oak tree was fascinating to me.
Nathaniel’s story dates back to slave times, and how the Slaughter’s were slave owners. It tells of Nathaniel and his best friend Emmeline, and how they were kidnapped and brought to the United States and sold into slavery. The story contains dark magic and spells of what has brought Nathaniel back. Essentially telling of two stories at once and weaving them into a wonderful web of loyalty, friendship, love and the ties that bind. It also shows just how family secrets can ruin lives and take them all at the same time. And what one will do to get to the bottom of those secrets and what another will do to cover them up.
Nathaniel Bishop was a good man; bound by loyalty and friendship. He has tried to remain true to his word and promises. But some promises go unfulfilled. That is until the time is right to rewrite the wrongs. His loyalty to Emmeline and to Tori made him quite likeable. The life that he had previously endured as a slave was horrific and you want for nothing more than to allow him some time of happiness and freedom. But with the end eminent – you want him to fulfill the promises he has made and you want him to finally have peace. But is that all possible? Can that come to pass and allow Tori to finally have the answers she so desperately needs?
I would recommend this to any mature teen and up. The story is timeless, beautiful and a great opportunity to discuss self-harm. The story wouldn’t have come to pass if Tori didn’t have a past history of self-harm and in that self-harm she finds life and hope. I am looking forward to continuing this story and hope that there is a future for Nathaniel and Tori.
Reviewed by Erin
Copy provided by Publisher