The Suffering Tree is a YA fantasy novel with intriguing characters, historical aspects and an unsettling feud which is ready to blow. I enjoyed the storyline but there were many issues that somewhat irritated me.
One of my qualms is that self-harm is a very pivotal part of the story. According to the Disney book website, The Suffering Tree is aimed for 12+ year old’s. I disagree here, purely from being so soon out of high school. I don’t think children of 12, 13, 14 etc should read about this in detail. Also, there’s no warning in the blurb. Which is in poor taste.
Self-harm is portrayed in a poor way. It actually creates a positive outcome for Tori as it raises Nathaniel from the dead. Positive connotations are never applicable towards teenagers who are often impressionable. Tori’s self-harm is also not referred to in a bad way by those around her, and it is not resolved by the end.
The overall mystery of the book was really interesting. I loved the premise, I just wish it had bypassed the problematic aspects. An enjoyable part of every muster is not knowing who the antagonist is. Tori changes her suspect list throughout, but the ending is truly spectacular story telling.
Another problem was that the POV shifted a lot between past and present and between our main characters. This might just be on my e-book version, but I didn’t know who I was reading sometimes. I usually have no problems with shifting POV’s. But I do require some indications as to who and when I’m reading about for comprehension.
Tori, Nathaniel and the Slaughter family are all engaging and relatable to a degree. The secondary characters maybe not so much. This correlates to Tori feeling like an outcast or ‘transplant’ to the town. So I take this more of a chosen method of writing instead of lack of planning.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but I hated the more graphic scenes of self-harm. I also disliked knowing younger audiences could read this without knowing.
I received The Suffering Tree* by Elle Cosimano as an e-book from the publisher, Disney Hyperion, via Netgalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.