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The Apple-Tree Throne

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  272 ratings  ·  78 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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 ·  272 ratings  ·  78 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
thefourthvine
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
...more
Aliette
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An elegiac, atmospheric tale of ghosts, war, hauntings, and what survival means. Well recommended.
Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew
Beautiful misty writing and plot. It takes some time to piece together what happened and when: a process that mirrors the increasing substance of Wickersley's ghost, its relationship to Benjamin, and Benjamin's own painfully slow re-engagement with life.

I won't say I'm completely certain about what happens at the end, but since the whole book is suffused with a melancholy mistiness, an undefined ending is just part of that. There's a sense of "something" more definite (a relationship, a life) c
...more
Ms_prue
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
Vanessa
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
Francesca Forrest
For me, this was a bewildering story. I enjoyed aspects of it intensely. The writing was superb and the world was so, so richly imagined. I loved being in the protagonist's head for his memories, and I loved his interactions with his friends.

But I spent a lot of time struggling to understand things. It was as if I were reading something translated from a language and culture whose allusions were unfamiliar to me. I spent a lot of time thinking, "So does this mean--? Does this indicate--?"

As I th
...more
Lata
So, so good. Tightly written, full of melancholy, and just enough interesting and subtle detail to make this alternate, slightly steampunk, Edwardian England believable.
Main character Ben, returned from war, is in pain from grave injuries, and unable to eat or sleep properly. He’s visited nightly by his dead Commanding Officer.
Ben struggles to reconcile his brutal memories of fighting, particularly of a disastrous last action by his CO, and of watching his CO’s murder at the hands of the enemy.
...more
Julie
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
...more
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
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
...more
Hart_D
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. ...more
kari
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.
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. ...more
El Hyrst
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
...more
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.
...more
Terri Jones
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: special-ones
Oh-ho-ho that ending!

This story takes place in alternate history European wartime, something like WWI but not, and centers on a veteran returned home wounded inside.

The ghost of his commander complicates everything. Or so Ben thinks at first.

Highly recommended.
Batsheva
A soldier returns from war, haunted by the ghost of his commanding officer. I really enjoyed this story, even though most of it was so sad. (Not usual for for my Covid-19 reads, I try to keep them light and fluffy.) Ben's sense of displacement, trauma and loneliness really caught my attention and I was compelled to listen until a most satisfying end. ...more
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
...more
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.
...more
Ollie Z 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
Anne
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a lovely terrible beautiful little story.

Oh, this is a story for the military folks. It gets it right. The jokes, the awful things, the friends. It's bittersweet and funny and in the end hopeful, and writer, you are wonderful. Thank you.

...more
Rebecca Rose
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Gorgeous Gothic "Romance" of sorts

The author flawlessly sets the mood in an instant for a complex tale that handles depression, PTSD, chronic pain, survivor's guilt and mourning beautifully. I highly recommend it for fans of the classic Gothic Novel.
...more
Jessica
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So beautiful.
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Tanya
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
...more
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