Book Review: The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash

hangingtreeTitle: The Hanging Tree

Author: Michael Phillip Cash

Genre: Ghosts, Novella, Horror, Dark Fiction

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Enter a world where spirits roam the earth in Michael Phillip Cash’s haunting new novella, The Hanging Tree. Set amid the eerie backdrop of Long Island, an area famously steeped in old legend, two young would-be lovers contemplate their future while visits from those who have come before them reveal the lure of fate…and the power of free will. At seventeen years old, Arielle’s relationship with her parents is slowly deteriorating. Angry and defiant, she is at a loss on how to cope with the tumultuous situation in which she finds herself. Arielle’s only comfort is Chad, an eighteen-year-old young man who seems to truly understand her struggles. Arielle and Chad meet beneath the low-hanging branches of what the local community has nick-named the “Hanging Tree”. An ancient and majestic landmark, it has long been rumored that the tree is haunted by ghosts. These ghosts span various centuries and vary wildly in age, but each one of them has one thing in common: their deaths are all somehow connected to the tree itself. As Arielle and Chad commiserate over their current situation and their precarious nature of their future, the spectral inhabitants of the Hanging Tree witness their conversation. One by one,the ghosts begin reminiscing about their own lives-and deaths- as they examine the inner demons with which their human forms long struggled. An eerie meditation on the oft-overlooked power of choice, Cash’s The Hanging Tree will stay with readers long after they turn out the light.

The Hanging Tree had decent enough prose, but the story itself was too familiar for me, it lacked originality. A couple of teenagers find themselves beneath a haunted tree, and are being watched by the specters occupying The Hanging Tree. While the teens face difficult decisions, the ghosts talk about their own lives and perils, and the reader finds out more about the origins of the tree, and the specters.

The ghost’s stories were a tad predictable, but at least they were more original than the overall premise. The old woman was my favorite ghost. She had an intriguing story to tell, and she had a fiesty personality. I enjoyed finding out more about the tree, and only figured out why the tree was cursed toward the end, although the reason was not very surprising.

The writing was okay, and the story was decent enough. I would’ve liked to see more original elements, but all in all it was an enjoyable read. Not scary though, so don’t go in expecting a chilling horror story. It does involve ghosts, but it’s rather tame.

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