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The Suffering Tree

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“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.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori 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 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.

From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published June 13, 2017

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About the author

Elle Cosimano

12 books4,239 followers
USA TODAY and New York Times bestselling author, Edgar® Nominee, Bram Stoker® Nominee, & ITW Thriller Award winner.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 142 reviews
Profile Image for Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net.
242 reviews552 followers
February 13, 2017
Trigger Warning, as the topic of self-harm is discussed at length in this review

Plot at a Glance:
Tori Burns and her family find themselves living in small-town USA after suddenly and unexpectedly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. Moving to Chaptico, Maryland puts Tori and her family at odds with most of the tightly knit town and sparks a rivalry between Tori and Jesse Slaughter, as its his family's land the Burns have "stolen." The feud is put on the backburner one incredible night when Tori witnesses a handsome young man claw his way out of a grave beneath the oak tree in her backyard. Compelled by reasons unknown to her to protect him, Tori keeps his existence quiet but word travels quickly in a small town and some will stop at nothing to keep their oldest family secrets dead and buried.

This book is so hard to review! I was going to try and be optimistic and highlight the things I did like about it, but every time I try and start, alarm bells start going off in my mind because there are much more pressing things to talk about first. Like the elephant in the room.

This novel should come with a trigger warning. There is absolutely no indication in any plot summary I've seen that there is a gigantic and repeating theme involving self-harm in this story. Given that this is a YA genre novel, I really wasn't expecting it and I certainly wasn't expecting it to happen over and over again during the story. That's not to say that I don't think the topic of self-harm should be off limits. I believe stories of all types deserve to be told but you absolutely have to consider your audience.

Because this particular story was written for teenagers, it's so important to also include thematically how destructive and harmful that behavior is. Furthermore, there needs to be emotional pay off in the form of an ending to that behavior. When you include self-harm in a book for teenagers, it's imperative to show them that things get better and you can move on from it.

Unfortunately, Cosimano chooses to use Tori's self-harm as a method to bring Nathaniel back from the dead at the start of the novel. I worry that because it's her blood that brings this sexy, colonial-era teenaged boy into Tori's life, Cosamino inadvertently ties a very harmful behavior to a positive reward.

In real life, sexy dead guys aren't going to spring up from the ground and solve all your problems for you when you hurt yourself.

No one ever calls Tori out on the behavior. Everyone looks the other way, or changes the subject. What this novel desperately needed was just one character to stop her and show her how much they cared. To help her see how harmful the behavior was. It's never done here and without that sort of emotional payoff including self-harm at all feels like it was ONLY done to bring Nathaniel back from the dead in a novel that impressionable teenagers will read. That is wrong, and I can't support it or in good conscious recommend it to anyone else to read.

I think that's enough of that, so I'll move on to other issues:

Shifting POV:
This is a personal pet peeve of mine. You might love it, but I dislike when POV shifts between chapters. There are 3 separate POVs used in this book. Third person past tense; First person past tense; and first person present tense. Authors take note, shifting POV this many times makes the story a pain to read. It slows down the action dramatically every time, because the reader has to reorient themselves to the new view.

Lack of a compelling antagonist:
Because the story unfolds like a mystery, I was compelled to keep reading, hoping that the antagonist would show themselves from time to time but it never really happens. We're supposed to buy the Slaughter family as antagonists, but because Tori inherits a house on their land, I never really felt like they were terrible people. In fact, I kind of agreed with them and wanted to see them succeed because the plot surrounding Tori moving onto their property is pretty ridiculous, not going to lie.

Shallow characters:
Save for Tori and Nathaniel, the characters are really shallow. For example, Tori has 2 best friends Magda and Drew. We never learn anything about them except that Magda's dad is a lawyer, and that Drew is gay. Plus, no character's physical appearances save for Nathaniel and Tori's are ever really described. They're all just faceless shapes in a cast of forgettable characters.

All in all, I was really disappointed by this. I saw glimmers of greatness in it, but the final product has a lot of problems.

2/5 stars

This was... Problematic. :/ I need some time to sort out my feelings about it.

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
906 reviews278 followers
June 23, 2017
I have lots to say about this book so I'm going to try and break it all down for everyone. Starting with the aversion many have with this book.

Yes it is true our lead gal is a cutter. She self harms herself in about 8 described incidents (though I would argue that ones done for a spell are different), 4 of which are possibly graphic. I didn't think so but then again I dabbled with cutting as a teen myself and my husband had larger issues with it as a teenager. I think it's a really important issue that most writers shy away from. I've never read a novel where the lead character is a cutter and, given how widespread of a teen issue it is, it's occurred to me that we should probably be more concerned than we are.

So, why is this such a taboo subject?
I personally feel like those who have DNF'd or given 1 star because of the cutting content are incorrect. You can still dislike the overall book of course; and choose to say the book is not for you, but that doesn't mean it's bad or inappropriate. Especially if you DNF and don't witness the progression of the cutting issue. Right from page 1 it is not glorified or made out to be right. In fact the shame and fear our gal has over the issue, I think, sends a very good message to teens.
I'm not interested in arguing about this at length. This is merely my opinion. But as a previous cutter and having witnessed those who struggle with it even worse I think this is a really important, rarely discussed issue.

There is a lot of great content here. Between moving to a new town, dealing with death, stigma and corruption it has a good base. Then add in the historical context discussion indentured folks, slaves and witch trials: you suddenly have a well thought out book. There was more magic than I expected and I really enjoyed the jump between dreams of the past, and the past and present perspectives.
It's quite intricate and the overall family tree and past element felt a lot like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for me. Add in our damaged cutting lead gal and you suddenly start to have a bunch of themes that crossover.
That said it's a teen book. While it's definitely not appropriate for less than 14 or 15 due to content, it is still not an adult novel.

The overall writing is quite good. There are some really annoying issues at times; like where someone has the answer to a crisis when they couldn't have had time to make a call and plan in the span of the two minutes between incident and telling others of a confirmed plan. A couple holes like this, but for the most part they are not too hard to overlook.

I'd say on principle this book is 3.5 stars for me, but I bump it to 4 stars for being willing to tackle self harm and mutilation issues with teens.
Could it trigger someone? Sure.
Should it have mentioned self harm in the blurb... I dunno... maybe...
Ironically I felt the scenes in the past including whipping, switches and other torture methods was far more graphic and disturbing. I have noticed a tendency as a society to be okay with past violence as we believe it no longer happens today, so it's not as disturbing or something... there's a psychology paper in there somewhere.

I would recommend this book for adults who love magic that happens or is set in present day, those who enjoy a complex family tree and conspiracy, or anyone interested in a well done take on why teens (or others for that matter) inflict injuries upon themselves by choice.
I think any teen over 14 would be entranced by this novel.
Oh and I shouldn't forget to mention that the love interest is very unique. I liked it a lot. I especially appreciated the lack of love triangle, gushing about cuteness or hotness and that there is zero slut shaming. All things I'm more than tired of.
Overall I would recommend The Suffering Tree and I commend Elle Cosimano for tackling a hidden issue that needs to be brought to the surface even if it makes folks uncomfortable. In fact the more uncomfortable you are the more likely it is that the issue needs to be discussed!

To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Esther.
555 reviews109 followers
May 7, 2017
Trigger warning: Self-harm is an ongoing subject in this book.

Got a copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is the kind of story that I've never read before. It seems a historical romance but there are fantasy elements as well. Not sure if this book would be YA in my opinion because of the harsh subjects in the book.

This review was first posted on BiteIntoBooks Blog

Ending: The ending was a good one. I felt satisfied with the ending, which should be the case if the book is a standalone.
Lot of mystery: There is a lot going on that you don't understand and it takes almost the whole book for you to get your answers. Things point to some of the wrong people and the wrong places, but you will get your answers in the end!
Different POV's: This book is written from 3 different POV's, which made it very interesting for me. You have the current time, you have the visions Tori is having and there is the history told by Nathaniel. I liked the variety and the way the story is told from different POV's. For me, different POV's don't always work or have the effect they should have. But it worked for me in this book!

Did not always make sense: There is so much going on in this book that I don't understand. The book had fantasy elements, but I wouldn't call it a fantasy book. The way things evolved didn't always make sense and I'm still not sure I understand what actually happened in the book...
Selfharm/Slavery/Rape: Such harsh subjects.. I'm not sure I would put those subjects in a book that I call YA. It's also weird to me that there is no note or warning somewhere in the synopsis or book-blurb. For people struggling with harsh subjects, it could be a shock to read those passages.
Didn't enjoy it all the time: There were moments in this book when I wasn't that excited to keep reading. I didn't understand a lot of things that were happening, together with the subjects named above, it wasn't always a pleasant read.

A story with a lot of promise. It didn't always make sense to me, Tori was hard to understand as well as her choices. Wouldn't tag this book as a YA, because of the underlying subjects in the book. When you like your casual zombie-boyfriend and a nice mystery and if you're not scared away by the above named subjects, you might enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
June 8, 2017
DNF at 45%

The synopsis was interesting, but what really sold it for me was the comparison to Mara Dyer. I went into this book with really high hopes.

Tori was an okay MC. She's going through some things and an upheaval in her life and her coping mechanism is cutting. It happens often and in scenes where it's not happening, she's constantly pushing on the healing wounds. Sadly, that habit seemed to define her. Nathaniel and Tori's friends Drew and Magda had potential, but they fell flat.

...and that basically describes the entire story.

It's all so bland. What I'm assuming is supposed to be build up and mystery is boring. There's no tension or spark. I read to 45% before skipping to 75% and I couldn't find anything redeeming in those sections there to continue further.

I'm rating it 2 stars because technically I did read over half and while the idea is intriguing, the execution was sorely lacking.

**Huge thanks to Hyperion for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Morris.
964 reviews164 followers
August 10, 2017
I am giving “The Suffering Tree” three stars for the sole reason that it had some promise. 2 1/2 would be my preference and 2 seems too low, so I rounded up.

As I said above, there was some promise in the plot and characters. They were actually developed fairly well and the concept was unique. The problem is, none of it was capitalized on. It felt plodding with brief moments of hope, only to have them almost immediately dashed. And I would be remiss if I neglected to mention this: There is self-harm (cutting) and it is very graphic. If this is a trigger for you then avoid this book at all costs.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend “The Suffering Tree.”

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Milos Mojsilovic.
98 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2017
This had to be the most unique and unexpected novel i read all year. What starts off​ looking like a YA novel, turns out not to be one. At least not fully. While it has YA elements in it, it spices it up with fantasy, anxiety, cutting, promises, curses that lead to time travel, of sorts & voodoo for good measure.

It will might take you a while to get into the book but once it hooks its claws into you it will be hard to let it go. If you get emotional while reading books, this one will give you all of them. Well except horny, but that's beside the point.  If you don't get emotional while reading, prepare to get on this one.

My head is still buzzing as I'm writting this, cause to be honest I still don't know what to make of this book, other than the fact that i absolutely loved it. Keep in mind that there is some self harming in this book, nothing too graphic, but it's there. And as the story progresses, the author uses it to show that beyond the fear and the stuggle, there is beauty & love to be found there. But don't be mistaken, this is not a book about self harming. It's a work of fiction. But self harming is involved and it also adds an amazing aspect to the story.

The plot itself transcends time as it follows two sets of timelines. You don't see the connection at first, and it takes some time before they connect the timelines together fully. But it comes at you like a runaway train. And you don't want to get out of its way....you want to hop on board for this one, cause​ it's one heck of a ride. Prepare to be amazed, engulfed, entertained, surprised, & once you make it to about 60% in, prepare to say goodbye to real life as you'll want to finish the story. You'll want to find out what happens. So get the book & read it.

And to Elle Cosimano, thank you for writting this book, and thank you for all the all nighters it took to read it.
Profile Image for Jen .
2,557 reviews27 followers
May 19, 2017
My thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group-Hyperion for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

This book NEEDS a warning of some sort. There are some VERY graphic images of cutting/self harm in this book, which can negatively affect someone who is thinking about doing it, is currently doing it or who has suffered from it. Just walking into it without any warning can be harmful. It also shows it in a "positive" light in that when the MC hurts herself, she gets this hot guy who cares about her, who gets her to fix herself. And then when he goes away, the only way to get him back is for her to hurt herself again. THIS IS DANGEROUS THINKING.

I cannot recommend this book unless it is used in a clinical setting, where the reading of it is guided as a way to expose faulty thinking that self-harm will bring about a magic prince who will fix you.

1 star, because of the self-harm. If it was handled in a better way, 3? The writing was good, the rest of the subject matter interesting enough to read more, but it was all very dark and sad. I would not avoid this author, but I'm not going to go out of my way to read anything else she produces.
Profile Image for Danielle.
266 reviews6 followers
March 27, 2017
(I received an ARC of this book on NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

I finished this book a few days ago, and I have carried it with me since then, trying to talk myself into it.

I enjoyed so many things about this book until I realized that the biggest obstacle would never be resolved:

This book glorifies and romanticizes self-harm, to the point where it is actually the means through which the protagonist actualizes her goal. None of her friends call her on this, and her lies to her mother are never addressed.

As a middle school teacher, I cannot recommend this book.
Profile Image for Amanda [darjeeling_and_jade].
361 reviews60 followers
March 29, 2017
My reviews are first published on [a cup of tea and an armful of books].

Warning: I discuss cutting and the inclusion of it in The Suffering Tree in this review.

When I finished The Suffering Tree and read reviews of it I asked myself if I read the same book as these other reviewers because I absolutely do not have feelings of this being a five, four, or even three star book. The initial look at the book, aka the summary, had me hooked. It seemed right up my alley: it has a curse, a mystery, and a character coming back from the dead coupled with the outsider / outcast aspect. That summary was what led me to request an ARC on NetGalley. Sadly the summary led me astray.

The things I liked about this book are slim compared to the problems I had with it. It's exceedingly frustrating as a reader to have most of the excitement about the book explained in the summary, because I found the actual book quite slow and boring at times. Even though the writing had beautiful and sometimes poetic moments, I couldn't shake the disconnect from the characters despite following Tori throughout the entire novel.

Normally this is where I'd go into talking about the characters to keep with the flow of my writing, but I wanted to talk about the things I had issues with in order of importance. Because all of my issues with the characters and the points of view pale in comparison to this:

Using cutting as a way to have magical things happen is a HUGE problem.

There was no indication going into The Suffering Tree that Tori self-harmed. Like this review here, I agree that self-harm is not something that should be completely erased from young adult books, but it does need to be done in a way that doesn't glorify it the way that I felt The Suffering Tree did. The inclusion of self-harm was completely unexpected. I've read a few other books with self-harm in them, and generally there's something in the plot summary that indicates to the reader that it will be discussed in the book.

I hated that other characters, namely her mother and brother, seemed to ignore that Tori was hurting. Tori had been caught before and was required to talk to someone (she no longer is talking to someone ) and Tori's mother counts the knives in the drawers, but there's just something so dismissive about how it was handled in the book. They just scurry out of her way in their attempts to not talk about it. With the death of Tori's father, subsequent eviction, and move to a new home and town, you'd think that Tori's mother would be aware of the stressors in Tori's life that would lead to more cutting. There's absolutely no discussion about how Tori is doing and there's no therapy, even though the discussion of therapy is halfheartedly made later on. Nothing comes of it, however. It made me feel like the author just used it as a way to further the story rather than call attention to the real harm it can be.

Which brings me back to my main point: using cutting as a way to have magical things happen is a gigantic problem. It's huge. And honestly, I have a hard time thinking about how this made it past editors and first readers, particularly when it's in the young adult market. There's a difference between blood being specifically used for spells which sometimes happens in books with witches / magic and when a character harms herself with the intent to harm and something magical just happens as a result. I cannot believe that this decision was made and reinforced as it went through first readers.

This is threaded throughout the entirety of the novel but is never truly addressed. Tori acts weird and blows people off, yet no one calls her on it. No one asks--truly asks--if she's okay. There are other ways of showing that a protagonist has anxiety and depression. Frankly I feel like it trivializes these things by making it the catalyst to magical things.

Which leads me into my second problem: the characters are not developed at all. Secondary characters are just names on the pages. The novel centers completely around Tori and Nathaniel. She has friends but doesn't engage with them. Nor do they really try to engage with her. Along with her mother and brother, Tori's two friends exist as plot devices to occasionally further the story. It's sad when I read a story and none of the characters are memorable. I hardly even know what Tori and Nathaniel look like and the other characters may as well be the creepy mannequins at department stores. There's basically a one sentence description about them. I felt that a lot of it was just ticking boxes.

When the romance develops the lack of character development really killed it for me. Even when a novel goes the instant-love route, there's things that I can find cute about the romance even if it's unrealistic and / or developed too quickly. With The Suffering Tree I felt nothing. Honestly I think the romance wasn't necessary; I was far more invested in the mystery and anytime something remotely romantic happened it didn't seem to fit in with the novel. I think it would have worked better had Tori and Nathaniel worked together as friends who both had an interest in solving the mystery.

The points of view were also very odd in this book. There were three, which is at least one too many. The choice to write in two perspectives--first and third--also kept removing me from the story. It was weird and jarring to switch from one to another. I don't mind multiple perspectives, but it seems unnecessary to switch from third to first and then back. I didn't feel that the book benefited from this choice at all, so I'm rather confused about why it was included in the first place.

A lot of this review focuses on the negative things, but there was enough positives that I didn't hate the book. I use the two star rating for "okay" and that's really how I felt about it. I enjoyed reading the mystery and of both Nathaniel and Tori's involvement in it, although I feel that the lack of a villain made it weaker. I wanted to feel more uneasy about the mystery and the events surrounding it, but there wasn't a sense of urgency to them. They felt very surface level which is frustrating when I want to read a mystery. I kept reading because I wanted to see how things would turn out in the end. I was curious but ultimately I feel that the author led too much into what was going to be revealed because it was easy to guess where it was going to go.

I have no doubt that The Suffering Tree will be popular when it's published despite the issues I had with it. The premise was amazing and it made me have high hopes for the novel. I have a hard time reviewing when I'm one of the first reviewers of an upcoming release that doesn't have many reviews, but I also know the importance of reading reviews before purchasing a book. I've tried to address all of the positives and negatives so people wondering about this book will have another perspective to look at.

I sincerely hope that the publisher addresses the issue that happens when cutting is glorified (particularly when this book is in the young adult market) before publication.

2 stars.

I received a copy of The Suffering Tree from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Suffering Tree will be published on June 13th.
Profile Image for Tissy.
217 reviews
July 16, 2017

DNF at 67%
This was a frustrating read. It felt as though it had been written by two different people.
There were two narrators that were written in 1st and 3rd person and it just didn't work well together. I actually much preferred the 1st person style, that particular character and his story whereas the modern day MC was dull and the writing equally so. In fact her parts could have done with some serious editing as there was just so much unnecessary fillers which included her self harming which just didn't make much sense aside from being used as a catalyst to resurrect the boy.
On the positive side the male MCs story was very interesting and that is pretty much the only reason I read so far however the pace is so slow that in the end I found no value in continuing. Instead I skipped to the ending just to satisfy my curiosity about what happens to him. This book probably could have been better with less of the female MC and if it were told in the same style narrative.
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews614 followers
June 16, 2017
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

THE SUFFERING TREE has themes teens will identify with but the plot holes and writing style overwhelm and distract from the overall novel. Tori Burns and her family move to Chaptico when they are bequeathed a house and plot of land. After her father’s death, Tori is depressed and angry. She’s a cutter who already feels like she doesn’t fit in and living in the close-knit town just isolates her further. When her blood accidentally raises Nathaniel Bishop, a murdered indentured servant, Tori learns more about the dark history of the town. Both Tori’s and Nathaniel’s past become integral to ending a curse and solving why the Burns family were given the house at all.

There were a lot of odd writing choices in THE SUFFERING TREE. Chapters are broken into two different POV styles (3rd person/omni for Tori, 1st person for Nathaniel). Tori’s dream scenes are written in 1st person present tense. Each writing switch becomes more clunky and distracting. Everytime we think we’re settled into Tori’s head, there’s a one-line mention of another character knowing something or seeing something about Tori. Exposition also gets in the way of Tori’s chapters. Near the end of the book, Tori distractingly turns into Hercule Poirot and starts rattling off long theories.

There are some problematic elements that I wished had been addressed. With the history of slave ownership and indentured white servants, why is a servant's rape the sole thing that shames the Slaughter family? Why is that worse than anything else that likely happened on the plantation? There should be a known dark history to the Slaughter's and the town, as well as an already twisted family tree. As well, the witchcraft and magic that Emmeline performs has clear roots in voodoo but it’s never explained how Emmeline knows this magic.

This is one of the few books that I wish that there had been a love triangle or that the romance element was removed completely. I never invested in Tori and Nathaniel’s romance, especially since Nathaniel’s chapters were filled with longing for Emmeline. Jesse Slaughter started off as a charismatic teen who was kind, popular, and just had his family’s life ripped apart by this new family. Then, he goes full 80s villain. It felt like a lot of the character reversal was to buck the ‘love triangle’ conventions. Instead it just leeched away any interesting tension and complex characterisation. What would it mean if not all the Slaughters were batshit crazy and out to get Tori?

A forced romance and confusing characters ultimately detract from what could have been an interesting historical fantasy. If THE SUFFERING TREE focused more on Emmeline, and if the Slaughter family hadn’t been such obvious villains, there could have been a lot of interesting questions that addressed the impact of personal history, the importance of blood relations, and whether the past is still something that must be atoned. Tori and Nathaniel’s story may continue into another novel, but it’s one I don’t think I’ll be reading.

Sexual content: Brief reference to sex; Trigger Warning: scenes of cutting, thoughts of suicide
Profile Image for Carina Olsen.
787 reviews144 followers
June 19, 2017
Been wanting to read this book for ages now. Because it looks gorgeous; love that cover so much. And it sounded pretty good too. Finally got to read it, but oh, I'm pretty disappointed. Giving it two stars. Which break my heart a little, because I really wanted and expected to love this book. How rude. But it was so different.

Like, the goodreads summary is not very correct at all. It doesn't mention at all that Tori is cutting herself. And that she has been harming herself all the time for months, that she is full of cuts. It didn't bother me, but it could bother a lot of other people. It did bother me that I never got to know why she cut herself, though.

It also doesn't mention that a lot of this book takes place three hundred years earlier, in flashbacks. There were a lot of those scenes. And I am not sure if I liked them or not. They were my favorite part of the book, because those scenes were a lot of heartbreaking and awful. About slaves. About how they were treated. It wasn't nice to read about. But it was interesting, and I cared more for those characters. But I also didn't love it, because Nathaniel was in love with Em for years, yet she was in love with someone else. And reading about that just broke my heart, because this boy did not get much happiness at all. And neither did Em. Their years as servants were not good years, reading about it was heartbreaking. Some parts were boring, though.

But this isn't really their story. This book is about Tori, taking place our time. I wish I could say that I loved this girl, but I didn't, not really. I felt nothing while reading about her. I was curious about her family; liked some things about her too. But for the most part I didn't really like her. I didn't like reading about how she hurt herself every time she couldn't deal with something. It was painful to read about. I still didn't know why. She started before her father died. Think she was raped, but it was never said. I needed it said. Aw.

This book is about Tori moving with her mom and brother to a new place that they suddenly got from a dead guy. They don't know why they were left this house and land, but are trying to figure it out. The neighbors weren't very nice at all. Ugh. And there was a boy, Jesse. Seemed like he could have been a weird type of love interest, but he wasn't. He was a bit cruel and awful; he even went through all of her stuff in her room one day, and she did nothing about it. That bothered me too. But he wasn't important.

But yeah. I'm not sure what to share about this book. Don't really feel like writing much about it. It's about Tori seeing a boy coming out of the ground, clawing his way up. Nathaniel died three hundred years ago. He was cursed, sort of. And I liked reading about this boy a lot. Was so curious about his story. But, well, Tori never asks him about any of it. And that bothered me too. All I know about him is the scenes from the past; which isn't something he was telling her about. Wanted that. So yeah, that was disappointing too.

I'm not sure what else to say. I liked reading about the past. Though I only really enjoyed reading about Nathaniel. Tori just bothered me. She has two friends in this new place, but I cared nothing about either of them. One of them didn't tell her the truth about something important. And they just weren't really there. As Tori kept so many secrets from everyone, and I didn't approve of that either. Sigh. I felt like this book could have been so much better. Yes, I enjoyed some of the plot, but not most of it. I wish I had loved it.

Then there was the romance. Sigh. I felt nothing for the romance at all. And that bothered me a lot as well. I thought it would be swoony and awesome, but it was neither. I liked Nathaniel a lot, and I sort of liked Tori, but I didn't ship them together at all. Didn't get why they should get together. Plus the romance was really small and weird too. Didn't get why they were attracted to each other, or how it happened. One small kiss. Then second kiss turned into too much, and it just felt awkward to me. Just, so so depressing.

I wish I could say that I loved this book. But I didn't. I found the plot to be exciting most of the time, and I wanted to know how the book would end, but I also didn't care much. I just wanted the book to end at times, which isn't a good thing. Aw. I also didn't think the ending was very exciting; felt like it could have been more. Aw. But I am glad that I tried this book. Just wishing it had been better. Curious to know what others think of it, though. Have seen someone love it, and someone not finish it. Aw. Need more opinions.


This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: http://carinabooks.blogspot.no/2017/0...
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
January 27, 2020
This whole mission to get my Netgalley to queue zero has really highlighted how my tastes have evolved and changed over time with book blogging. The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano is a book I would have been all over three years ago. Now, however, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t a new favorite. I do not see myself re-reading this book. Looking back, I kind of wish I had read this one during the fall because it sure is evocative of autumn – moodwise, not so much season-wise.Read my full review here
Profile Image for Hilary Evans.
7 reviews11 followers
July 1, 2017
This book was incredible! A perfect blend of mystery, history, and romance that kept me at the edge of my seat. I couldn't put the book down once I started reading.
Profile Image for Holly.
282 reviews16 followers
June 1, 2017
Trigger warning for self harm

Let's start with the good aspects before I get critical and start rambling. I loved the base for the story. It was witchy and creepy and the atmosphere of the novel was great. Plus that cover??? Holy shit I'm in love. I liked the flashbacks Tori sees through her dreams from Emmeline. This would have been a fantastic novel, easily one of my fav suspenses... if there was no self-harm (or at the very least, a warning for it).

I'm going to put the self-harm discussion under a spoiler tag for both spoilery reasons and because, obviously, TW self-harm.

DO NOT READ THIS NOVEL, DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS NOVEL, if you or whoever you are thinking of recommending it to are at-risk or have a history of self-harm.

Ok, on to the next issue I had with this novel - race. Going to put this under a spoiler tag too, just in case.

I don't quite know how to rate this. The novel itself, ignoring the problems, is easily a five star story for me. However, there is zero warning for the self-harm aspects of the book, and as this is geared towards juveniles and young adults, this is unacceptable. Additionally, the lack of black characters, in a story largely surrounding slavery, made me feel a little squicky. So the two major themes in the novel, slavery and self-harm, were not handled very well, and as a result I took off a star for each.

So yea... I am very conflicted over this book. I really loved the overall story, but some of the details didn't sit right with me. And as much as I loved it, I am a white girl who has never self-harmed, so the damaging aspects of the story didn't have as much an effect on me. Keep that in mind if you are thinking about reading. Look for reviews from people of different backgrounds than mine. I haven't been through these things, so I cannot accurately convey how harmful this novel would be to others.

I don't know if I can recommend this in good conscious without something being changed. There are too many harmful aspects of this novel to go into it with no warnings. However, I would recommend it (to those comfortable reading it) if the summary was changed, or there was some sort of trigger warning for self-harm, so readers know what they are getting into.

Here are some self-harm resources, should you need them:

Text a crisis counselor for confidential support right on your phone: Crisis Text Line

Use this app to calm down, manage self-harm urges: Calm Harm

For more info, various resources on self-harm: Self-Injury Outreach and Support

I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Jessica (a GREAT read).
1,669 reviews101 followers
September 12, 2021
Elle Cosimano's The Suffering Tree is a story that is rich in history and mystery! This tale was so twisted and filled with dark secrets that it made for quite the page-turning experience. Alas, I found it somewhat lacking in some areas. Though the story was enough to keep me hooked, I still felt a bit confused with all the secret keeping.

After her dad died, Tori and her family find themselves moving into a house that is apparently in their family and came at the right time since they were evicted from their apartment. The only thing is, their new home that they own free and clear, is in the middle of the Slaughter family property. How this works out takes awhile to come about, but since it's an unusual circumstance, the Slaughters have to go around their house at times to access more of their land.

Tori has had a rough go of things lately, not only with her father's death, but other things that came about with the move as well. Secretly, she cuts herself. It was a little surreal to see this happening, as I guess most books I've read either have drug or alcohol related problems. Tori is also adopted, which she's known and as far as I could tell, didn't really have an effect on her cutting. She just finds at times she needs to control something and she gets that with cutting.

One night, when she escapes to the old cemetery on her family land to cut herself, she finds a young man climbing out of a grave! It was a totally frightening experience to even read about. I mean, the dude is crawling out of a grave!! How this comes about and all, is another mystery that will take awhile to reveal itself.

Every few chapters or so, that are normally from Tori's point of view, we get a new font and the point of view of Nathaniel, a young man who lived a long time ago. We basically get glimpses of what Nathaniel's life was like as a child and how he became to be the young man crawling out of the grave one dark and lonely night.

Tori is captivated by Nathaniel. They have a bizarre connection of sorts, it's hard to describe really. All the while we continue to get Nathaniel's flashbacks to help bring us up to speed. In the current day, we see Tori trying to uncover a mystery about her family, her blood family.

Jesse Slaughter, father of the man who owns the land that surrounds Tori, is planning something. He first attempts to "court" Tori, but Tori knows he's working on another angle and this is kind of where things got confusing. Jesse's cousin is missing as well and he thinks the answers to the disappearance lies somewhere on Tori's property.

This book was kind of odd in some respects. I was enjoying the twisted mystery but I guess I felt the added flashbacks made things harder to grasp, their timing wasn't always ideal and it just presented more questions and problems to the present day matters. Lots of things are still kept hushed-hushed around Tori and you start to wonder, what the heck is going on? I mean, that's the big question, right? But things aren't really answered in ways that make sense. There's only more questions and more questions instead of leads that answer things.

When the answers do start coming around, the dots are connecting but the picture is still a little unclear. After I reading the final chapter, I was still trying to puzzle out what just happened and what the point of all that was. I guess you could say certain characters were drive by greed and greed alone and that's that. Some people are just terrible people. I guess I was hoping for something a little more clear when it came to the whodunits and why things happened the way they did. It's not that I didn't enjoy the story, I did, it just wasn't what I expected.

The Suffering Tree was definitely an odd sort of mystery and creepy in parts here and there. It's a long twisted history of revenge and love, and devious plots. It's definitely a worthy read if a bit confusing at times.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Roxanne.
1,052 reviews52 followers
June 13, 2017

Thank you to Negalley and Disney-Hyperion for a copy of the eARC in exchange for a fair review.

Tori has recently moved to Maryland, her family has inherited a plot of land and house just in the nick of time. Since Tori's dad died they have lost everything and had no choice but to move from DC to this small town in Maryland. Even though she finds it strange that they have a random plot of land in the middle of the Slaughter family farm.

Tori also cuts, but her mom knows about that so when she heads out to the old dead tree to cut herself she doesn't think anything of it until she finds a boy later. Nathaniel Bishop tells her that he was hanged from that tree and that Emmaline must have brought him back.

When Matilda the old lady that lives near them tells her that Emmaline brought him back, Tori knows something deeper and darker is going on. Will Slaughter has gone missing, and Tori keeps finding Alister Slaughter on their property. She knows they are looking for something, and it has something to do with why they inherited the property.

Sins of the past are coming to light, and Tori is falling for a boy who has long been dead. Will she be able to set him free? Will she be able to find the proof she needs in order to save her family?

I have read all of Elle's books so when I saw this it was an automatic request! While I didn't love it as much as her other books, I soon found myself sucked into the mystery and wondering what was going to happen. I love Tori, despite all that tries to break her and her cutting she still gets up and tries again and again.

I also loved the Gothic southern feel to the book. Buried secrets are some of my favorite things to read about and this did not disappoint, especially since it brought up indentured servants a part of our history that we really don't spend a lot of time focusing on. I have to say that I hated that it ended, I wanted more and I want to read more about Tori, but alas this is a standalone so I have to just be happy with what I have.
Profile Image for Alysa.
70 reviews22 followers
August 22, 2017
****I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.**

I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this book after seeing some of the reviews on Goodreads. I always try and read books with an open mind though, so I hunkered down to start the book.

The first thing I want to point out is that this book does contain detailed self-harming. The main character Tori self-harms throughout the majority of the book. Maybe there should have been a notice or warning associated with the book that warned potential readers about this topic being included.

Overall, I enjoyed this book as it was something different from typical YA Fantasy. The book contained magical realism and it was to the extent, that you had to wonder if things were happening because of circumstance, randomly, or magic. While there was nothing wrong with the characters, I didn't find myself connecting with them. I wanted to know their story and what was going on but I didn't feel that connection that I sometimes do where I see a little bit of myself in them.

I do think that the plot could have been tied together better in a few places and definitely could have been less rushed in a couple of spots. There are flashbacks or dreams in the book that are a bit confusing but I think it is because they are meant to be as the character experiencing them is dreaming and wakes up very confused.
Profile Image for Sarah .
166 reviews532 followers
March 19, 2019
DNF at pg.115

I was sent and Arc of this kindly from the publishers

I haven't DNF'd a book in awhile but I just couldn't get into this at all.

I won't spoil anything but it's a supernatural small town gothic story about an old family feud, witches, and magic. It has everything I love in books but I just couldn't get into it :(

The pacing seemed a bit off and the flashback s to another character in the past were kind of boring.

Also, this book needs a trigger warning or at least a mention of potential discomfort for the use of self harm in the story. It's totally glossed over and for a book aimed at teens it was a bit glorifying of cutting and self harm.

Overall I wanted to like it way more than I did, and I flipped to the end of the book and read what happened and wasn't really impressed, so I'm glad I didn't slog through it.
Profile Image for Allison.
727 reviews
July 31, 2017
First of all, this book contains a MAJOR trigger warning for self-harm. These aspects in the book are mentioned briefly on the dust jacket summary, but go way further than the summary described. If you are in any way triggered by self-harm and descriptions of it, this may not be the book for you.

This book was very different than what I was expecting, which hindered my enjoyment just a little bit. I was curious about how everything would tie together at the end, though, which is ultimately what kept me reading.
Profile Image for Jillian Hazlett.
103 reviews6 followers
December 24, 2017
Loved this book!! Tori, Nathaniel, and Emmeline were great protagonists, and I loved the mystery, suspense, and magic. The jumps between Tori's third-person perspective, to Emmeline's experiences in Tori's dreams, to Nathaniel's first-person past were flawless and kept things exciting. I only wished the book was longer - I would have loved to have seen more development in the Tori/Nathaniel romance, the friendships with Drew and Magda, and the motivations of the modern antagonist. This book would make a great TV show!
Profile Image for Heather Brown.
655 reviews11 followers
April 25, 2017
I am not a fan of this book. I was excited to read a book in which the bad guys have not only African slaves, but also have children and criminals from England as slaves. People should really know more about this! Unfortunately the author also decided to tackle the current issue of cutting - at length, and in great detail - which really detracted from the slavery issue. It also felt weird that Tori magically fell in love with Nathaniel when she barely interacted with him, at least as far as the book mentions. Maybe a lot happened 'off screen', but then what was the point?
Profile Image for Rebecca Armstrong.
194 reviews65 followers
June 3, 2017
The Suffering Tree is a YA fantasy novel with intriguing characters, historical aspects and an unsettling feud which is ready to blow. I enjoyed the storyline but there were many issues that somewhat irritated me.

One of my qualms is that self-harm is a very pivotal part of the story. According to the Disney book website, The Suffering Tree is aimed for 12+ year old's. I disagree here, purely from being so soon out of high school. I don't think children of 12, 13, 14 etc should read about this in detail. Also, there's no warning in the blurb. Which is in poor taste.

Self-harm is portrayed in a poor way. It actually creates a positive outcome for Tori as it raises Nathaniel from the dead. Positive connotations are never applicable towards teenagers who are often impressionable. Tori's self-harm is also not referred to in a bad way by those around her, and it is not resolved by the end.

The overall mystery of the book was really interesting. I loved the premise, I just wish it had bypassed the problematic aspects. An enjoyable part of every muster is not knowing who the antagonist is. Tori changes her suspect list throughout, but the ending is truly spectacular story telling.

Another problem was that the POV shifted a lot between past and present and between our main characters. This might just be on my e-book version, but I didn't know who I was reading sometimes. I usually have no problems with shifting POV's. But I do require some indications as to who and when I'm reading about for comprehension.

Tori, Nathaniel and the Slaughter family are all engaging and relatable to a degree. The secondary characters maybe not so much. This correlates to Tori feeling like an outcast or 'transplant' to the town. So I take this more of a chosen method of writing instead of lack of planning.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but I hated the more graphic scenes of self-harm. I also disliked knowing younger audiences could read this without knowing.

I received The Suffering Tree* by Elle Cosimano as an e-book from the publisher, Disney Hyperion, via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.

Uptown Oracle Reviews
Profile Image for Kara.
539 reviews168 followers
July 14, 2017
DNFing this on page 46. I just wasn't enjoying it, due to a few issues. Number one: I was bored and just not finding the story compelling enough to go on. Number two: the self-harming. I don't have a problem with a character doing this, per se, I'm just not sure it should be portrayed the way it was in young adult books. It wasn't seen as a negative thing, really, and sure that could have come later, but if I were a teen looking for a coping strategy, this book might have given me ideas.

It's just not what I want to be reading. I feel like the author may have some talent, so I'm not writing her off, but this book is just not for me.
Profile Image for Irene.
39 reviews
March 25, 2018
This is one of the first books I have read about a character dealing with depression and self-harm and it has really opened my eyes. It has also given representation for the people in my life who deal with mental illness and is still a story with a twist that you have not seen a lot. I would recommend this book to almost anyone.
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