I’m thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for impressive debut novel Pine by Francine Toon. Thank you to Anne Cater and Transworld Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this hauntingly beautiful book.
About the book:
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 gone.
In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.
Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.
About the author:
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.
Follow her on Twitter @FrancineElena
Pine by Francine Toon is an impressive debut that drew me in from the very first page, taking me on a thrilling and eerie journey that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. A hauntingly beautiful story, this is a chilling and atmospheric gothic tale that will stay with me.
Lauren and her father Niall live in a small village in the Scottish Highlands that’s surrounded by pine forest. Her mother disappeared ten years ago when Lauren was a baby, and her father is now a lonely and isolated man who loses himself in alcohol. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, desperate to understand her troubled father and to learn the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. Bullied at school by people who thought her mother was a witch, she is a character I felt great empathy for, her fear and loneliness palpable as we move through the story. But then a local teenager goes missing and Lauren no longer knows who she can trust.
The deliciously claustrophobic feel of the small village sent shivers down my spine as the mystery surrounding both disappearances was slowly revealed. The tension ratcheted up to breaking point, leaving me breathless as this magical story reached a satisfying conclusion that I felt was the perfect ending for such a hauntingly beautiful book.
Francine Toon has written a unique and atmospheric tale that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I finished it. The beautiful and accomplished writing transported me to the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, so much so that I could almost smell the scent of the pine forest, the eeriness of the surroundings becoming a character in its own right, all adding to the gothic feel of the story.
Pine is a thrilling debut that had me gripped from beginning to end and I can’t wait to see what this talented new author comes up with next. Highly recommended.
Pine by Francine Toon is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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