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The Silver Bough

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  630 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
The award-winning author of The Mysteries returns with another captivating novel in which modern-day enigmas and age-old myths come together with spellbinding results. Here is an enchanting tale set in a land rich with folklore–and ripe for a rekindling of the old ways.

Nestled on the coast of Scotland, Appleton was once famous for its apples. Now, though the orchards are l
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Spectra (first published April 25th 2006)
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Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy, Modern Myth
_The Silver Bough_ is one of my favorite books read in recent years. It's the story of a small town attached to Scotland by a thin thread of land. When a storm makes the only road to the town impassable, strange things start happening. The town begins to slip into the mists of Faerie. This is one of those books where describing the storyline itself is not enough. Lisa Tuttle's description in this book is incredible...the town takes on a life of its own like few authors can successfully do. This ...more
Tanja Berg
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I looked forward to reading this. I loved the cover and found the blurb on the back interesting. When I started reading I couldn't quite get into it and found it difficult to keep the characters apart.

There's this peninsula that used to be an island according to legend. Maybe even Avalon. Now it's called Appleton, although the legendary apple orchards are gone. Ashley comes to visit her relatives and search for her roots, her grandmother ran away from Appleton. Then there's a landslide and the
Moira Russell
Much better than The Mysteries, but still not something I'd really recommend to someone unless they were really in the mood for light and fluffy (which isn't me, very often). This read to me much more like a romance (down to the gushy descriptions of the hero), and not so much a supernatural/Gothic novel, so maybe that's part of why I mostly bounced off it. A flaw in both books is the plot takes WAY too much time to get moving, and I say this as someone who loves big build-ups.
Kevan Manwaring
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
If you are looking for autumnal comfort reading with a magic sheen – look no further. Tuttle's charming tale of an enchanted Scottish town – the invented near-island of Appleton – has a strong sense of place, some distinctive characters, and a clever blend of Celtic mythology and apple folklore. Tuttle slowly builds up a painstaking level of detail in the town's idiosyncracies – architectural, topographical and human – thus establishing some verisimillitude, before the magic starts to leak in fr ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A slow burner of a novel, set on a peninsula at the Scottish coast. One by one, a number of characters are drawn there, each seemingly driven by loss of some sort. Except the librarian. Then, this island of apples seems to drift into a more mythical state, with fairy tales and myths of Avalon just beneath the surface.

The myth bits sound like just the sort of thing I'd love, but sadly the novel feels quite flat. Each character gets an introduction, and it takes a very long time before the story m
Diane Warrington
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This is an interesting novel and an interesting idea. However I found it difficult to read in places because it seemed to have an identity crisis.I wouldn't call it magic realism because of the fairy/myth/legend aspect. I also found the sex references just weird. Every female character (all American) instantly fall in lust. All the Scottish male characters are a bit loopy and it's only the male incomers that have sex appeal. An awful lot happens to 3 women who are in many ways so alike that I fo ...more
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I sometimes hesitate when I'm looking for fantasy books because I find they either throw you into an unknown world too fast, throw too much 'local lore' at you too quickly, or the story becomes action before you're settled into the world with the characters.

The Silver Bough is none of the above. The world, although a different country to me, is introduced in such a way that I feel instantly settled and apart of the tiny Scotland island. I feel connected to the modern world that exists within the
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kara by: Kate
This is absolutely magical realism. It's not romance (although there is romance involved), it's not chick lit (at ALL), and it's not science fiction (there are no rational explanations provided).

Appleton, despite its name, is a Scottish town. Myths and rumors surround it, and there's always been a little aura of magic around the area. The town thrives on its apple industry--at least, it used to before it fell into economic shambles. The rational explanation for this decline is that the man who o
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a beautiful read.

This story starts out as if it's a contemporary tale, but slowly more and more magical elements appear, until at one point I was just as creeped out as one of the lead characters by the strange things that happened.

The story switches between several viewpoint characters, and I liked most of them. The one character I couldn't relate with was Ashley, she was too self centered and hostile at times. I think Nell was my favorite character. She's a difficult person, but I coul
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Polly Ross
This is the book that got me out of my month-long fiction slump, and I am full of affection for it.

It isn't really anything new, but it's a lovely, cozy warm book, with occasional eerie moments and a deft handling of folklore.

Three very different American women--college student Ashley, middle-aged librarian Kathleen, and young widow Nell, are drawn to the small Scottish village of Appleton, each seeking escape from a personal loss.

Appleton is rich in folk traditions, and when a rockslide cuts
Alison C
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can't believe I missed The Silver Bough, by Lisa Tuttle, when it first was published in 2006; she's one of my favourite authors and she writes novels far too infrequently for me (this is, I think, her fourth full-length novel since Windhaven, co-written with George R.R. Martin, appeared in the mid-1970s). But I'm absolutely thrilled to have found it, however belatedly. The Silver Bough is set in Appleton, a small seaside town on a peninsula in the west of Scotland, described by folklore as hav ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, magical
A creepy, haunting, subtly magical novel about the power of stories and the magic of old places.

Kathleen gives up a higher salary, a cosmopolitan life and a failed marriage in London, and moves to tiny, isolated Appleton on the coast of Scotland, to become librarian at the beautiful, out-of-place library in the centre of a once-thriving tourist town. But Appleton is failing, and when a landslide blocks off the only route back to the mainland and sparks off a chain of very strange events, many fe
The Silver Bough is a gentle fantasy that weaves Scottish mythology, magic and romance into a seamless tale of wonder. It follows three women who are trapped in Appleton after a landslide, who all meet a mysterious stranger and are drawn into an enchanted world that may hold the key to the survival of the old town.

The book begins with Ashley, who has come to this backwater in search of her family's past - her grandmother once lived in Appleton, and was even crowned the Apple Queen in her youth,
Lari Don
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I often tell a traditional tale to infants about the star at the heart of every apple, and the story always holds them entranced. This book investigates the magic star at the heart of the apple in many myths and legends, so I felt an immediate connection with the story.
The Silver Bough is about Appleton, a small town on Scotland’s west coast, which used to produce the most wonderful apples in Scotland. But why did the apples stop growing?
We see the town and its unusual history through the eyes
Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: beach-book
Time for a new review. This book was 337 pages long.

There is a certain *type* of book that I like to call a "beach book". Easy to pick up, easy to follow plot, entertaining, shallow, and not something to grieve over if you leave it behind or it gets spoilt by a random spray of water. I would certainly classify The Silver Bough as a "beach book".

The purpose of the plot isn't really clarified at the start of the book. The reader is fed newspaper clippings a la "Fried Green Tomatoes" to provide b
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sovotchka by: Kara
I read "The Silver Bough" because I had seen it on a Magical Realism shelf.
This probably helped me a lot, as I have read quite a few reviews mentioning the surprise upon stumbling into a world of fairytales.

In the beginning, Lisa Tuttle describes the journeys of three American women, all lonely for some reason or another, to the small Scottish coastal town of Appleton.
The Scottish landscape provides a resounding backdrop to their emotional issues,and apparently there are also enough males in
Ali George
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blodeuedd Finland
I really like her style. It's so fairy'tale, but at the same time it fiction. It makes me believe.

This is the story of Appelton. Once it was a nice little town with orchards, now people are leaving. All because of the last Apple Queen and the bad luck that followed.

Our 3 heroines are: Kathleen, a librarian. Nell, who has a few apple trees. And Ashley who wants to know why her grandma left so suddenly and never came back there. They are all different, they are all skeptics, they are all outsiders
John Owen
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
A very intriguing book. More than a touch of Brigadoon and The Wicker Man, with a run-down Scottish seaside town proving to be something more when a strangely attractive man returns to his birthplace. His arrival seems to set in motion a sequence of events, with the town's only road cut off by an avalanche, communications going on the blink, plus a mysterious fog that seems to surround the place. Everything revolves around the apples for which the town was famous, but which died out fifty years ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Genuinely masterful and romantic modern fantasy, as creepy strange things happen on the odd little Scottish outcrop that is Appleton, where everything is in decline and all the apple trees are gone. But a golden apple has appeared out of season in a walled off orchard and a new chance has come around to make everything right or to lose everything for good. But who will eat the golden apple, and will it be in time? Appleton is cut off from the outside world and the mists are rolling in. Ghosts ar ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set on an almost-island on the Scottish coast, famed historically for its apples. But the apple trees have almost all gone now, and the town is in decline. There's a story that once a generation, the trees produce a single golden apple, and if that's shared between a young couple in love, it will bring happiness and prosperity to the town. Last time it should have been eaten, Ashley's grandmother was chosen to be the Apple Queen, but she ran away to America instead and the apple was never eaten. ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful story full of mystical magic. What if mythology wasn't fiction? What if ancient tales were more than mere stories of wild fancy? Appleton was a town rumored to be the fabled Avalon of Arthurian legends, a place steeped in Celtic lore, but all that is now history. A young girl grieving for her best friend, a widow lost without her soulmate, a young man cast out from his home, a woman seeking her place in the world, and a beautiful, mysterious stranger all become stranded here in the w ...more
Cassandra Carico
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took about 175 pages for the story to begin to fully bloom. However, the time spent setting the scene and getting to know the characters was well worth it. The rest of the book moved so swiftly and carried me along like a swift current. I fell in love with this book and didn't want to put it down.... nor did I want it to end.

The author did not rehash old tales, but brought a completely new flavor to tales long told. If you love fantasy with a fair helping of realism, this is a book for you.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
An entertaining read with some annoying flaws. Namely that it jumps between different characters' perspectives at a relatively rapid pace. This doesn't effect the understanding of the plot, fortunately, but that's namely because the characters are fairly interchangeable. From the six-or-so perspectives the reader sees, not much changes. The characters, and even their descriptions, quickly blur together until I just stopped caring about their motivations, thoughts, or interests. Would have liked ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I found the Scottish folklore in this interesting. The plot took a long time to start going, with the first 6 chapters introducing a seemingly endless parade of different characters. I'm not sure why the 3 main characters had to be Americans - it seemed unlikely to me that a small village in Scotland would have so many, but maybe I've missed something in the story. In fact, none of the main characters came from Appleton, so maybe that's the point and I'm being a bit stupid. So, in summary: Scott ...more
Katie Smith
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to dive into this book head-long, and never look back. The myths surrounding the town of Appleton invited me in, and although I did not think that the format was necessary, the newspaper and letter clippings added to the depth and detail of the setting. However, I did not connect with any of the characters well. The book started off jumping from character to character, giving the reader an introduction of each, but it took pages and pages before some of these characters felt relevant.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Silver Bough is firmly rooted in my heart as a new love; a fairy tale reworked with all the old magic to whisk you away. A story of lost loves, sinister forces awoken, and unlikely heroines and heroes. Glorious apple imagery and history that will steal your heart.
Serena Robles
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5/5 stars.

"The Silver Bough" is something I would categorize into the fantasy and magical-realism genres. It is a story that mainly follows three American women on a small and dilapidated Scottish island. "The Silver Bough" is slow as it follows its three characters as they come to learn more about the legend of the "Apple Queen".
Personally, I did not know the book would follow three women as they longed for lost and new loves, and I felt the storyline was lackluster as it left plot lines wit
Desirée Pascali
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho amato tutto di questo libro, ma proprio tutto: i personaggi, le ambientazioni, le descrizioni, la trama... l'unica cosa che mi ha lasciata spiazzata è stato il finale. Non so, proprio le ultime pagine. Mi è sembrato piuttosto straniante e piuttosto incoerente con il resto del racconto. Alla fine credo sia solo una questione di gusti personali, il libro resta comunque un'ottima lettura e ne vale la pena.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Entertaining and easy to read but nothing amazing about it. It was an average beachbook.
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(Wife of Colin Murray) aka Maria Palmer (house pseudonym).

Lisa Tuttle taught a science fiction course at the City Lit College, part of London University, and has tutored on the Arvon courses. She was residential tutor at the Clarion West SF writing workshop in Seattle, USA. She has published six novels and two short story collections. Many of her books have been translated into French and German e
More about Lisa Tuttle...