Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Synopsis: 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 that the Burns have “stolen”. But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grand v e under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.
Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori t h at 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 to 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 centuries-old 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 is a tough book to review. There are some good things about it, but it also has many weaknesses. First, it should definitely come with a trigger warning concerning self-harm. Tori is a cutter, and this is brought up repeatedly, yet there’s nothing in the book’s summary about this. Making matters worse is the way in which Cosimano uses Tori’s illness as the way Nathaniel is brought back to life. So, right from the beginning I was frankly appalled. In addition, no one in Tori’s life ever makes a serious effort to stop her harmful behavior. There’s no resolution and it seems to me that the only reason why it’s included in the story is to bring in Nathaniel. The book is told from three perspectives: the present, the past through Tori’s visions, and the past from Nathaniel’s POV and it was jarring to move back and forth between them. While I found Nathaniel and his historical ties to the Slaughters to be the most interesting part of the story, the rest of the characters including Tori, come across as being generally under-developed which makes it difficult to become emotionally invested in them. The mystery is interesting, and the writing itself is beautiful and at times almost poetic but these aren’t enough to save the story. To be honest, even without the issue of cutting being magically glorified, The Suffering Tree would have been just an okay read for me, but the cavalier way Cosimano treats the issue of depression, anxiety and self-harm has left me concerned for the teens that will be reading this.