Synopsis: “Two men have the carcass.” These words, heard over a crackling telephone line, change writer Karen Lewis’s life for the worse. Months earlier, her brother went missing in the small rural town of Fallen Trees, Washington. And now she finds out he willed his half of a bizarre bed and breakfast to her. “Two men have the carcass.” Is this ominous phrase enough to draw her into the mystery of Fallen Trees? Is the answer to her brother’s disappearance located there? Or is it just a trap, something designed to draw her into a nightmare world and break her sanity? What horror awaits Karen in the House of Fallen Trees?
Banshee Reads Thoughts: House of Fallen Trees was the first book we chose to read for the newly created Banshee Reads book club of Ladies of Horror Fiction. We are choosing to twice a month devote our weekly group reads to horror books written by a women. (When we’re not doing month-long public read-a-longs like our upcoming Rebecca read.) House of Fallen Trees was published in 2009. It looks to be the second book published by Grindhouse Press, and is the author’s 8th published novel. None of the LOHF group had read anything from this particular author before. All of us cooed over the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous. The synopsis drew us in as well, and we were all looking forward to a spooky paranormal horror read. It would have been great if we could have all came away from the read raving about how awesome it is. In a perfect world, that would have happened. But, as the world proves time and again, it is not perfect. House of Fallen Trees did generate some very entertaining discussion during the week that we read it. Unfortunately, for many of us, said discussion was of more value than the story Gina Ranalli attempts to tell. The story is hampered by a seemingly inconsistent timeline, poor characterizations, and descriptions that were sometimes outright unintentionally absurd.
That is not to say that there was nothing of value to be found in House of Fallen Trees. One specific thing we enjoyed was that the author neatly avoids the usual trope of ‘x being horrifyingly different looking until (protagonist) shows someone else’. I think we were all ready to roll our eyes, expecting the usual, and were pleasantly surprised by the change! The setting of the book was nicely unusual as well. Some of us found the read to be an extremely easy one, and we often accidentally read past our assigned stopping point. We all loved the fact that the author avoided the usual unnecessary animal death as well. Overall, while a fun group read experience, most of us found House of Fallen Trees to be an unimpressive read. However, several of us did agree that it would make for a pretty fun movie in the hands of the right director!
About the Author: Gina Ranalli is the author of several novels, including Mothman Emerged, Rumors of My Death, Praise the Dead, House of Fallen Trees, Suicide Girls in the Afterlife, Chemical Gardens, Wall of Kiss, and Mother Puncher. Her collection, 13 Thorns (with Gus Fink) won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Story Collection of 2007. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications including Bits of the Dead, The Beast Within, Horror Library Volume 3, and Dead Science, among others.
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