Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Review: The Hanging Tree: A Novella by Michael Philip Cash

Title: The Hanging Tree: A Novella
Author: Michael Philip Cash
Publisher: CreateSpace
Date of Publication: October 15, 2013
Source: paperback, 90 pages; received from author for my                         honest review of it

Goodreads Summary:
Enter a world where spirits roam the earth in Michael Phillip Cash's haunting new novella, The Hanging Tree. Set amid the eerie backdrop of Long Island, an area famously steeped in old legend, two young would-be lovers contemplate their future while visits from those who have come before them reveal the lure of fate...and the power of free will. At seventeen years old, Arielle's relationship with her parents is slowly deteriorating. Angry and defiant, she is at a loss on how to cope with the tumultuous situation in which she finds herself. Arielle's only comfort is Chad, an eighteen-year-old young man who seems to truly understand her struggles. Arielle and Chad meet beneath the low-hanging branches of what the local community has nick-named the "Hanging Tree". An ancient and majestic landmark, it has long been rumored that the tree is haunted by ghosts. These ghosts span various centuries and vary wildly in age, but each one of them has one thing in common: their deaths are all somehow connected to the tree itself. As Arielle and Chad commiserate over their current situation and their precarious nature of their future, the spectral inhabitants of the Hanging Tree witness their conversation. One by one,the ghosts begin reminiscing about their own lives-and deaths- as they examine the inner demons with which their human forms long struggled. An eerie meditation on the oft-overlooked power of choice, Cash's The Hanging Tree will stay with readers long after they turn out the light.

My Thoughts

The Hanging Tree is a novella that centers around a curse that was started in the 1600's  and has claimed many victims throughout the years leading up to the present day.  That is where the story starts for us; two teenagers left to consider their choices as they progress through the night.  These two characters make us believe the story is focused on them but I feel like they are really background noise for the more interesting characters: the spirits that live in the Hanging Tree.  Of course this is one of those stories that seem to come full circle and for that it does need the help of Arielle, the female teen there.

I loved the pretense of the story.  There are so many major factors that play a part in the story including revenge, love, and forgiveness.  And when we combine those emotions with ghosts, curses, and witchcraft it does make for a fun and enticing read!
I think my most enjoyable parts were the histories of the different ghost's pasts, as well as how they ended up in the Hanging Tree.    While I understood the necessity of understanding Arielle's life; I truly enjoyed reading about Goody Bennett and Martin and Arthur.  I would have liked to have even more of the spirits explained.  I really wasn't ready for that area to end.  Perhaps, the author could go back and give us some more back stories on other spirits; like prequels.  Who knows?

While I praise Cash's imagination in creating the different characters and the plot, I felt like the resolution of the curse could have been more substanstial.  I just wanted a little more umph in the ending.  Although, I do understand the concept behind the ending and can perceive why Cash chose to use it this way.

I did feel there could have been a tad more editing done before the book was published.  There isn't much and I tend not to focus on that area too much.   We all make mistakes and if it doesn't take away from the flow of the story I don't want to point out every single detail.

All in all, The Hanging Tree is a short story that has some eerie moments mixed in with lessons to be learned that actually offers up a great intriguing plot.  I would love for Mr. Cash to perhaps branch out (no pun intended) and maybe come up with some more of  back stories for other inhabitants of the Hanging Tree.  I would be first in line for that!

I gave The Hanging Tree: 4 hearts!

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