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The River Through The Trees

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Decades ago, Dan and Grace Robertson encountered a horror of childhood legend: Bicycle Bob. Some say he's an insane drifter with a taste for blood. Others call him evil made flesh, and claim his touch will poison your soul. Some say he’s just another country ghost story. Now, Dan is a cemetery caretaker who prefers the solace of his work to the complexities of living ...more
Kindle Edition, 164 pages
Published March 25th 2013 by Blood Bound Books
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  52 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Janie C.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Once again, I am thoroughly impressed by author David Peak. His book of poetry, Surface Tension, was dynamic, full of imagery and shades of color. His novella, The River Through the Trees, pulls you right into the heart and soul of winter, and you are cold. So cold. The author's descriptions of the small town of Ardor, Michigan, are bleak and harsh, contributing to the desolate chill. There is a murder, and a myriad of secrets and hidden memories that become the background of desperate ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of gritty horror
4.5 stars!

"The Thornapple's winding body and its non-navigable waters, bringing nothing to nobody. A steady stream of pointlessness. A withered worm in a rotten apple. A river surrounded by a stillness, whose muddy banks go untrodden, whose tireless, repressed rage goes unheard, out of earshot, trembling with inarticulate anger."

The Thornapple runs through Ardor, Michigan, during the winter in which this story is set. I could feel the cold in my bones. It may well be that the the season is a
Thomas Strömquist
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: Janie C.
Shelves: book-collection
A single complaint: this book is nowhere close to long enough. I might have said that even if it was a 500+ pages brick though. The River Through the Trees is the most successful and true feeling telling of a 'rural noir' that I've come across ever. Language is great and the narrative is so visual that when thinking about the book in between reading sessions I actually saw the characters for my inner eye. This also made the cold and harsh environment come alive better than it most often does.
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This one was probably a case of the book coming at the wrong time for me. I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters involved. I picked it up several times, and DID finish, but I didn't feel "connected" to the events at any point.

*Many people whose opinions I trust really liked this one, so I can only say it just wasn't for me at this time.*
Michael Adams
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent novella-length story. The tension here just grabs you from the first pages and then slowly ratchets up from there. The winter-in-a-small-town with secrets-to-keep setting works very effectively in a story that operates on two layers; that of a police-procedural / crime-drama surrounding a family-in-crisis and that of a supernatural horror thriller featuring both chthonic and cosmic elements. Powerful dread and quality storytelling skills on display here from David Peak
Christopher Slatsky
Though an overt paranormal presence isn’t that pervasive in Peak’s novel, the weird aspects of the story blossom from the same dark soil noir sprouts—decay (rural here, while noir leans urban), and Jim Thompson’s proclamation “...“things are not as they seem.” (I’m speaking of Noir as a distinct entity, and not synonymous with detective thrillers).

Dark revelations on discovering just what is transpiring behind the curtain is essential in Noir, while the same pertains to the Weird horror in how
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went in thinking this was just a horror novel. But this is also a gritty, bleak rural noir tale as well. The story takes place in a decaying small town in the grip of winter. There's poverty and violence, pill addicts, meth addicts, people dying because of shitty health insurance, the whole bit.

In one evocative passage, an outsider reflects on the decay, something anyone can see today on a road trip through America:

"The middle between the haves and the have-nots had almost completely
Matthew Bielawa
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just three days in this town and I feel like I've lived there for years....and need a hot shower badly! Dark, cold and sickly....and that goes for the countryside, town AND its residents. Sure, you're right there with Dan as he goes around town meeting his fellow neighbors, watching the drama unfold. But all the while, you have a feeling that something ELSE going on. I love the references to goats, and "hail bornless" tattoos....and that Ram truck. And the urban legend of Bicycle Bob (view ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing is hollow. Nothing is carved out. David Peak Pulls everything from beneath the snow, from out of the gnaw.
Heidi Ward
Dark, and filled with the poetry of rot and despair; David Peak consistently delivers the bleak.

I'm only giving this one four stars, however, because it was a little lighter on the "cosmic" element of horror than the blurbs suggest. (It's there, but to me it felt a little like an afterthought.)

That said, The River Through the Trees is plenty horrible in the way it pulls back the skin of rural blight in America; one hardly need summon the supernatural to evoke madness and evil in a community
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stuck halfway between a serviceable (if overly edgy) noir and a strong desire to flirt with horror, The River Through the Trees ends up flailing from side to side and never really making a landing properly. It's written quite well and the setting is vividly described with an atmosphere that seeps through at every turn. But the feeble flirting with horror elements keeps throwing the book off again and again without ever delivering anything, resulting in a subpar story that would have been better ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A gripping meditation on the potential for situational depravity of small town life and people who have known each other too long with shades of Ligotti and Lynch.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Atmospheric, bleak and with a certain sense of hopelessness. This novella should be right up my alley and in a way it was. The depiction of rural, cold and miserable Michigan created an apt setting and atmosphere for the human scum and average-at-best people inhabiting it. Really, there’s no redemptive spark in there, but that’s not the point of the story, either. It’s dismal, gritty and desolate. David Peak crafts most of his sentences in quite the poetical manner, which turns this story’s ...more
Ben Spivey
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review forthcoming.
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David Peak is the author of Corpsepaint (Word Horde, 2018) and The Spectacle of the Void (Schism, 2014). His writing has been published in Year's Best Weird Fiction, Denver Quarterly, Vastarien, and Electric Literature. He lives in Chicago.