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The Apple-Tree Throne

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  54 reviews
It is the turn of the century in an England that never was. Bright new aqua-plants are generating electricity for the streetlights; news can be easily had on the radio-viz; and in Gundisalvus' Land, the war is over and the soldiers are beginning to trickle home. Amongst these is Lt. Benjamin Braddock, survivor of the massacre that ended the war, and begrudgingly ready to r ...more
Kindle Edition, 73 pages
Published August 14th 2018
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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K.J. Charles
Nov 19, 2018 added it
Shelves: ghost, novella
This is really fantastic. A short set in an alt-Edwardianish Britain, now a republic, recovering from a devastating war. Vaguely steampunky without being annoying. Ben has returned from the war wounded in mind and body after his charming, handsome, entitled, privileged commanding officer got his division wiped out by arrogant incompetence. Ben is the only one to speak at the disgraced man's funeral, and is taken in by his bereaved family. He is also haunted by his CO's ghost. Subsequent events p ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An elegiac, atmospheric tale of ghosts, war, hauntings, and what survival means. Well recommended.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review should contain some enthusiastic commentary on the prose of this novella, particularly using the words 'lush', 'redolent' and 'evocative' but I have a sinus infection and this is day 4 of my headache and I can't word good. But I know what good words look like and these are some of the most moving you will find; a very enticing alt-fin-de-siècle republican Britain, a returned soldier and a fallen one, interchangeable bodies in a disintegrating class system... and there were roses. It ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I can't ride horses. I mean, I can, but it's not comfortable. I see other people do it with grace and joy. That's how it felt to read this story of a war-stung man coming to grips with the past and his future. It felt like being allowed to ride a horse as if I were someone who truly knows how.

Premee Mohamed's prose is perfectly balanced. Her metaphors are earned. Nothing is wasted; every movement pulls you beautifully one step closer to emotional connection. I cried three times, the magic number
Iona Sharma
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is a novella, a strange little ghost story set in an alternate post-war, which I don't want to call "steampunk" because it doesn't have that genre's wilful obtuseness about the brutality of empire. It's a similar sideways history, full of steam-powered trams and algae-driven electricity, presented as the background to the ghost story. Which is itself something of a metaphor for a story about trauma, and living and growing with trauma. If I had a criticism of this book, in fact, it's that it ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novella is beautiful, both the prose itself and the story. I didn't know much about it at all, which made it a quick read, because I wanted to know what was happening. But I plan to reread it soon. I think I'll better appreciate it when I'm no longer curious about the plot's secrets. I look forward to reading more by this author.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, atmospheric, brimming with emotion. A perfect Autumn ghost story, and one I really hope to see on the Hugo ballot next year.
Joanne Rixon
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize when I bought this book that the experience of coming home from war was so central to the plot and the aesthetic. I usually avoid this kind of book, especially when I know that it wasn't written by a veteran of a 21st century war, because as a veteran myself I find that often people who haven't had this kind of experience misunderstand it, profoundly.

Mohamed doesn't quite capture the sense of betrayal I've felt, or the depth of incompetence I encountered in the military, or the
I picked this up from a twitter rec because I needed a book with a food in the title for my #armedwithabingo card. I ended up reading it in a single sitting, and loving it.

The Apple-Tree Throne felt to me like a very gothic-historical-fantasy kind of novella. Lt. Benjamin Braddock survived the war, and more than that the massacre that ended the war. His friends went home to their families, their loved ones, but he has nothing. Nobody. He's got discharge papers and nowhere to go. And he's got th
Sara Norja
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A melancholy, subtle ghost story that deals with a soldier's post-war trauma: perfect timing, reading this in autumn. The world nestled within this short novella was also really intriguing, and I need to find out if Premee Mohamed has written more stories in this setting.

I think I should reread this in a single sitting sometime, though; my reading was divided into a few sessions because of work and exhaustion, and I do think this novella would've had even more of an impact if read all in one go.
Carrie Laben
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The description may lead you to expect either a horror story or a mystery, but this is neither of those things really. The plot, such as it is, is secondary to the exploration of social dislocation, identity, and change - all of which are handled deftly but gently. Perfect if you're in the mood for a short character study.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In an alternate (roughly Edwardian era?) England, a young solder returns from war wounded and haunted. Literally haunted, by the ghost of his military commander. Lieutenant Benjamin Braddock is one of the few survivors of his regiment, who were nearly all massacred due to a fatal error by his commander, Theodore Wickersley. Wickersley’s memory is now disgraced, while Braddock grieves and recuperates. Without family in the world, Braddock gives in when Wickersley’s family takes him in as a kind o ...more
Thomas Mcphee
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A softly spoken yet harrowing ghost tale about war, loss, who we blame for death, and the things we cant let go of.
Tatiana Dengo
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Apple-Tree Throne is Premee Mohamed’s first novella, based on the song “The Ghost of Genova Heights” by Stars, from the album “In our Bedroom After the War.”

It is the autumnal first-person narrative of a soldier who returns from an unnamed war and is haunted by his superior officer. It takes place in an alternate England of an indeterminate era, complete with all the social mannerisms you’d expect.

The ghost himself seldom appears, so we mostly read about the effects that his haunting is ha
Elle Maruska
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was absolutely, breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. Everything about this novella was poignant and gutting and yet, somehow, affirming as well. Yes it's a ghost story--and a very effective ghost story--as well as an alternate history set in a world similar to our own but with different political entities, borders, and technologies. But it's also a meditation on war, death, trauma, family, class, poverty/wealth, the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are told, and friendship. The ...more
Book Squirrel
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written.

When an image on the first page is so beautifully written that it forces the reader to stop and ponder it, one knows they are in for a literary treat. The Apple Tree Throne is one such story: wonderfully evocative and beautifully written, making use of rich images that linger in the mind and invite one’s thoughts back in quiet moments. The Gothic elements of the story - storms, dreams and apparitions - add another layer of complexity and imagery that provides darker contrast
Leo McBride
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I almost don't know how to begin writing about this book, because it is so very different from many modern stories.

Indeed, in some ways, it's a story out of time, that owes a debt to the cautious mannered intrigue of Wilde or MR James, even of Austen, and the classic ghost stories of old.

In an Unreal Britain, Benjamin Braddock is a survivor of war. His commanding officer died in battle, perhaps at the hand of the enemy, perhaps at the hand of his men. Braddock returns home to a country that do
I have been defeated enough. And I am still fighting a war on more fronts than I ever have. [loc. 390]

Lieutenant Benjamin Braddock has come home to the Greater Republic of Britannia, home from the war with a bad case of survivors' guilt and a leg that doesn't work properly. He is a haunted man: figuratively, by dreams and memories of the war and the camaraderie of soldiers; and literally, by the ghost of his dishonoured commander, Major-General Theodore Wickersley. Wickersley's family seem to wa
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novella
This novella is set in an alt-history Edwardian Britain, with bits of newer technology creeping in here and there, in the aftermath of a continental war. Lt. Benjamin Braddock has returned home from that war haunted by the massacre of his unit and the death of his commanding officer, Wickersley. He feels a strong connection to his late commander and ends up being the only person prepared to stand up at his funeral and say the expected words - Wickersley being widely blamed for the massacre of hi ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2019
Gosh this is a well-crafted little book; I enjoyed it immensely. It packs a lot into a short format while still feeling well-paced, and you get a satisfying, developed plot with a decent amount of world-building that’s integrated with the story and doesn’t feel too info-dumpy. It reads more like alt-history than “traditional” steampunk/fantasy (ghost excepted), and the technology is woven into the story with a light touch.

I particularly liked the friendships – The protagonist, Ben, is blessed w
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been desperately trying to get more people to read this just so I can talk to them about it. I love the unfussy, lightly sketched-in world building, but what really makes it searing and unforgettable is the characterization. It’s so verbally spare but weighty: every sentence counts. Every time I think I understand it, it cuts me like a razor all over again. I like a story that makes me work and makes me suffer, and this provides that emotional catharsis skillfully. What is grief and how do ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a delicate and gentle story about trauma and loss and carrying on afterward. It’s set in an alternate history England, in a time that feels like the Edwardian period, but with many differences — the monarchy has long been abolished, and there’s strange technologies everywhere. Oh, and there’s ghosts. Or at least one ghost, who is haunting the main character, a man recently returned from the war.

This story is beautiful, subtle, and wise, and I don’t want to say too much about it, because
Pete Harris
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ben Braddock comes back from a senseless war, wounded and nearly killed along with nearly 1000 other men in a massacre caused by the arrogant error of his commanding officer now dead. Now dead, and literally haunting him as he tries to acclimatise to civilian life. The family of the dead officer have drawn him into their cloying, superficial corner of high society too, which is endlessly uncomfortable.

This is a vivid and warm novella, with dark moments handled deftly and gently. Well worth readi
K.B. Rainwater
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice light read

I'm not usually find of first person, present tense narratives, but in this story it works. It reads almost like stream of consciousness, pulling the reader deep into the narrator's psyche.
The descriptions are beautiful, the world-building incredible. So much is implied in the use of unfamiliar terms for semi-familiar concepts.
And then, of course, there's the magpie rhyme, only it's not the one we're used to. I love poetry, so that may have been my favourite part.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was having a little trouble with my pre-existing book categories, but I thought about it, and The Apple-Tree Throne is a ghost story, pure and simple. It's set in an alternate-history post-WWI-ish England, and it is interested in the feeling of being haunted and haunting. The way that PTSD can make a person feel like a ghost- the work of having to exist in society in some sort of shape or form when the function you've been asked to do has been taken from you - and also a quite literal ghost. S ...more
Roger N.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to say anything about The Apple-Tree Throne, because anything you might say also gives part of it away. I bought this based on a recommendation of a retweet of a retweet about its release without much more than a glance at the description, and I'm very glad I did. The somewhat mixed-up genre elements are a perfect fit for a niche I wasn't aware was empty. I'll definitely be on the look-out for her other stuff.
Elena Gaillard
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ebooks
Lyrical and haunting...nearly every page has a turn of phrase that will delight you by seeming utterly perfect. The story amazed me for how much it contained. A ghost story...a war alternate history decorated with just a few science-fictional elements...but most of all an extremely human story, a man finding his way through a world that has battered and nearly broken him, looking for shelter and solace but most of all freedom to choose his own course.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The atmosphere of this book is absolutely beautiful. I loved the soft melancholy that not once slipped into being annoying. Ben is a good man, who lived through bad times and is struggling to find his place.
A lovely read for one autumn evening.

(I also wondered about Ben's sexuality - I felt as if he was asexual, but that might be just me projecting. Though it would be nice if he was.)
Book  Minx
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: speculative
An excellent novella that felt much longer in terms of amount conveyed than page count would imply. The feels in this are off the charts. I’m so thankful for the ending, as I’d worried about the creeper elements.

Marvellous commentary on the war machine and the ways in which it’s fed and perpetuated.

Oh, Ben. <3
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't entirely know what to expect going into this story. But let me tell you that it was absolutely delightful! And bonus, the Author's Note gave me new music to listen to! I can't wait to read more by this author!
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