DEVIL TREE by Steve Vernon (2011 Macabre Ink Digital / 289 pp / eBook)
Former preacher Lucas Sawyer and his wife Tamsen are seeking a new life, heading south down the Greensnake River. They nearly drown when their raft capsizes, but are rescued by a burly man named Jonah Duvall, who takes them back to his home in an isolated valley. Duvall's wife Jezebel helps nurse them back to health as their son looks on, and before long Lucas is helping Duvall with the daily chores. And in time Lucas and Tamsen will discover a strange, gigantic tree that sits in the middle of the woods, a tree that seems to be in control of Duvall. A tree that is beginning to call to each of them...
In Vernon's 19th-century-set horror tale, isolation and the impossibility of escape--coupled with supernatural elements--enhance the chills with each page that goes by. While the plot may seem a bit familiar, Vernon's natural talent for infusing believablitiy into each of his characters helps give things a fresh feel.
Vernon is well known for his ability to blend horror and humor (his 2004 novella LONG HORN, BIG SHAGGY being one of my all-time favorites), but here he paints a pitch-black serious tale that'll make you increasingly apprehensive. With Cronenberg-esque body terror, a Wendigo-type sub plot, and a wicked tree that would give the vegetation in the original EVIL DEAD a run for its money, DEVIL TREE is a best bet for horror fans tired of not being scared by horror fiction.
This one delivers the goods.