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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  35 reviews
They are driving home from the search party when they see her.

The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she's
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: January 23rd 2020 by Doubleday
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  69 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
''With all the lights on, there is still a darkness in the house.''

In a small community in the haunting Scottish Highlands, the strange disappearance of a mother has cast a shadow over the lives of the residents. Lauren, a 10-year-old girl, lives with her father and tries to find the links that may lead to the resolution of her mother's enigma and the healing of her family's wounds. Strange incidents, insecurity and bullying form a terrible labyrinth for the young girl.

This novel is really
10-year-old Lauren lives with her dad, Niall, in a small Scottish town. Her mother Christine disappeared some years ago. Right from the start we are plunged into an intriguing, eerie mystery: a young woman keeps appearing around Strath Horne, sometimes merely glimpsed and sometimes having extended interactions with others, yet only Lauren seems able to remember her. She slips from the others' minds as soon as she is out of sight, even if they're mid-conversation.

Part of what made Pine so
Liz Barnsley
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I seem to be on a run of unsettling, beautifully written novels at the moment, Pine is incredibly moving, intensely unnerving and genuinely absorbing from first page to last.

The edgy, offbeat prose really digs deep, it is a disjointed, haunting tale that is at turns terrifying and heart wrenching. Lauren sits at the centre of a maelstrom of adult emotion, her connection to her missing mother tennous and spiritual – meanwhile danger lurks in the forest surrounding her while her father falls apart
Francine Toon’s eerie and unsettling debut novel Pine is set in a small and remote Highland town, where the nearest supermarket is 23 miles away, and the planned opening of an Aldi has been a topic for discussion for months. It is a community where everybody knows everybody else. So, it’s quite ironic that there’s a mystery at the heart of this story. Just under ten years before the events described in the novel, a young woman named Christine disappeared without a trace. Her partner Niall and ...more
Wow! This book just came out of nowhere and totally swept me away in its five-star tidal wave. What a journey! If I had to describe PINE in one word only, it would be “unsettling”. It didn’t help that I innocently started reading it in the evening, and ended up putting in an almost all-nighter to get to the end, followed by some pretty strange nightmares – which you will totally understand once you read this book for yourself.

Talk about creepy! From its atmospheric, rural Northern Scotland
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mysterious and unsettling, Pine unfolds slowly but builds to a tense and gripping conclusion. I loved the setting and the folkloric, witchy elements.
Joanna Park
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pine is a wonderfully different book which manages to combine a few different genres making it a very interesting read.

This book drew me in from the start as the author sets the scene beautifully with her vivid descriptions of the small Highland village which has some interesting inhabitants. The beauty of the area is constrasted nicely with the eerie, almost oppressive forest which seems to hold a lot of mystery. I loved the little details the author has included in this book which just helped
Abbie | ab_reads
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Transworld/Doubleday for the gifted copy of Pine by Francine Toon! I absolutely loved this atmospheric read set in northern Scotland with small town vibes and an eerie undertone throughout. Lauren is used to her hometown, where men drink too much and teenage girls rebel, while the mystery disappearance of her mother hangs over her and her father, Niall.
This is one of those books where the setting is its own character, and the most forbidding one. Set in northern Scotland in a tiny
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Atmospheric and evocative, Pine stopped me dead in my tracks then wouldn't let me go, even long after I'd finished it. Pine conjures secrets half-buried in the cold, dry ground, cracking embers in dim fireplaces, and haunting presences in once familiar homes. I was reminded of Michel Faber's Under The Skin, with elements of the Millennium series, but Pine remains wholly original. There are masterful moments of tension and eerie atmospheres here, but no cheap shocks. Pine is the ideal book to ...more
Mary Picken
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pine is a beautiful, fabulously evocative novel, set in a small village in the midst of the Highlands where all around pine trees create a world of shadows. Lauren lives in the village with her father Niall, a shadow of his former self, given to bouts of melancholia and drinking ever since Christine, his wife, Lauren’s mother disappeared.

Lauren was so young when her mother went tries to channel her through her alternative therapy books about spiritual healing through crystals and reading the
Alex (PaperbackPiano)
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very enjoyable debut! Pine is instantly atmospheric; Toon does a wonderful job of conjuring the eerie, isolated setting and making her reader feel immediately unnerved. I genuinely loved the setting. Spooky forests with a hint of the mythical are my jam. But what makes Toon's setting work so well is the combination of this folkloric style with more modern references. The story is so well-grounded in reality that it makes it very easy to suspend your disbelief and accept the ...more
Daren Kearl
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pine is set in a small hamlet in the Highlands, where a father, Niall, struggles with alcoholism and depression following the disappearance of his wife, Christine. As a result, his daughter, Lauren, is neglected and often left to fend for herself and is bullied at school.
Lauren does seem to have an unknown presence looking out for her, however, tidying her room and protecting her bed with a ring of polished stones.

This is a mix of family drama, dark crime thriller and supernatural.

Laura King
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this spooky, atmospheric book in as few sittings as possible last week, eager to find out what exactly was happening in the remote Scottish highlands where Pine is set. The story follows Lauren, a young, lonely and thoughtful girl, who lives with her alcoholic father and does not remember her kind yet strange mother who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago. One Halloween night, a waif like woman appears in front of their car, which sets in motion Lauren's discovery of the ...more
Jan 18, 2020 added it

In my twenties and thirties, I spent pretty much every free moment in Scotland. I was a bit of a Scotland-ophile. I think I knew more about the history and folklore of Scotland than of England. I was therefore surprised not to recognise I was in Scotland during the opening pages of this months second book review, but instead thought the book was set in some remote American state.The book is Pine by Francine Toon and is published by
Joe Thomas
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Gothic fiction has long been one of my favourite genres, as evident by several reviews recently on this blog, and it's been fantastic to see so many gothic novels publishing over the past few years. There's lots to love about gothic fiction, but for me the three key elements are a spooky, claustrophobic setting, a hint of the supernatural and tormented characters facing a dark, threatening plot. Add in the beautiful jackets that have adorned gothic novels in recent years, and it's a magical ...more
The Coycaterpillar Reads
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just where do I start? Francine Toon has spun a beautifully unsettling story. Her imagination for novel writing is what Einstein was to science. The book cover is completely apt – it visualises everything the story promises to be. It’s desolate, it’s eerie and it’s intensely unnerving. If you have followed this blog tour and you haven’t added this to your TBR – well, there is something wrong with you! This book and it’s captivating writing has been building in hushed tones upto a deafening ...more
Kristel Greer
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Review: I received an advance copy of Pine by Francine Toon through.

I really enjoyed this book. It had a small town closed off feel with gothic supernatural sensibilities and interesting characters. Lauren is a 10 year old girl who is being bullied for being different. This stems from the stories around town about her mother Christine’s disappearance when she was a baby and the fact they thought she was a witch. Her dad Niall never got over his wife’s disappearance and is slowly letting
My thanks to Random House U.K. /Transworld for an eARC via NetGalley of Francine Toon’s highly anticipated debut, ‘Pine’, in exchange for an honest review.

First off, in terms of design its stark white and black cover with stag/forest motif was extremely eye catching. It conveys both a sense of beauty and of unease given the surreal image. Ever since I spotted the cover and read the premise I felt that ‘Pine’ was likely to prove the kind of novel that I would fall in love with. This proved to be
Miss R
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

"Pine" is an accomplished debut from future literary star Francine Toon. With the pathos of "The Wicker Man", resonance of "The Turn of the Screw" and some enduring tropes of the psychological thriller, "Pine" is a spine-tingling, evocative tale of long buried secrets and the constructed nature of memory. For nothing is as it seems in the small Scottish hamlet in which Lauren and her father Niall live.
Joanne Robertson
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pine truly is a remarkable debut. I was actually taken aback by just how good it was and it certainly exceeded my expectations. It read like a gothic ghost story with an ethereal atmosphere that immediately transported me back to the Scotland of my childhood. Lauren was a strange child, oblivious to the adult world around her but strangely drawn to the world of Tarot cards as she looks for answers to the mystery of her mothers disappearance. Her relationship with her father is a difficult one ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For her debut novel Francine Toon has demonstrated her writing skills and imagination to produce a chilling tale that blends harsh reality with the supernatural. She has also used her past experience of living in the Scottish Highlands to accurately portray and create a community with its two pubs and one convenience store where suspicion and gossip are pre-eminent. This is a creepy tale and has elements of the psychological thriller but at the same time veers towards the supernatural.

The story
Lel Budge
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lauren and her father, Niall, live in a secluded area of the Scottish highlands. Her mother had disappeared years before when Lauren was a baby.

One night, after a trip to the village for Halloween they come across a young woman in the road. Naked except for a dressing gown, Niall takes the silent woman back to their home to help, but by morning she has disappeared.

Then young Ann-Marie goes missing… there a link between the two women? Is the same person responsible?

What follows is a moody,
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't always enjoy the perspectives of children in books, but it was done perfectly in this one. Lauren acted and thought older than her 9 years (due to life) and I really enjoyed being in her POV

We follow Lauren when, on Halloween night, she and her dad see a woman standing in the middle of the dark road. They take her home, feed her, and in the morning there's no trace of her...and her dad remembers nothing about the encounter

This book was super atmospheric and I felt incredibly unnerved
Jinghay (TheSecretNoceur)
I absolutely loved this book!
It was mysterious, suspenseful, and honestly SO eerie sometimes that I couldn't help but feel a little scared.
The supernatural parts really added to the whole atmosphere of the story and I was so curious to find out more about the disappearance of Lauren's mother.

Lauren, by far, was my favourite character. She's such a sweet child and has to go through so much in the book. I just really wanted to give her a hug and protect her

The author does an amazing job of
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a slow-burner that takes a while to get going, despite key events happening in the first few pages. Toon’s depiction of the claustrophobic nature of the right-knit community in which the novel is based is superb, as are her descriptions of the landscape. I feel, however, that she is better at landscapes than she is at people. Most of the book is written from the point of view of a 10-year-old child, Lauren, but I didn’t really feel aware of that - she could have been any age, and this I ...more
Melanie Garrett
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved every word of #Pine. Lauren and Niall are perfect creations and who couldn’t do without more Billies and Kirstys in their life? To describe this as atmospheric - even hugely atmospheric - seems a grotesque understatement. Quite how she’s done it I can’t say but Francine Toon has conjured an atmosphere of nail-biting suspense that settles itself around the reader like Haar. Even when I was away from this novel, I was still there. Yesterday I couldn’t face that it would end and so forced ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very atmospheric book that could settle into a multitude of genres: thriller, mystery, fantasy, supernatural horror, but also holding the heartwarming elements of a family tale. I loved the setting of Pine the most: the earthy forests were immersively written and delivered the punch of uniqueness I was looking for. While I felt the start and ending were both a little weak in comparison to the meat of the book, I loved the characters and the overall plot line as well as the interwoven ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic, arc
Tartan Gothic.

Lauren and her father, Niall, live in a close-knit village in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by a pine forest. Driving through the wood one Halloween, a woman stumbles into the road. They give her a bed for the night, but in the morning she’s gone and only Lauren remembers the woman was ever there at all.

Toon artfully misdirects the reader and piles on the menace, whether it is supernatural, a possible serial killer, or a schoolgirl bully. Her keen eye for detail grounds the
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a hyper atmospheric slow-burn thriller set in a rural Scottish highlands community. The disappearance of Christine, mother to Lauren, devastates Lauren and her father Niall. He turns to drink, she turns to rites of old and introspection. Soon, strange things are afoot in the nearby woods and speculation is rife.
What happened to Christine and who is responsible?
Team this with figures in the gloaming and reports of strange occurrences in the night and you have a fever dream of a thriller
This novel is well-written but starts out slow, and continues that way for possibly a bit too long. From the midway point it finally starts to build and find its centre.

The description of place is very evocative and the dialogue works well, capturing the Scots language without slipping into hoky territory.
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Francine Toon grew up in Sutherland and Fife, Scotland. Her poetry, written as Francine Elena, has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Best British Poetry 2013 and 2015 anthologies (Salt) and Poetry London, among other places. Pine was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. She lives in London and works in publishing.
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