The Hanging Tree – Michael Phillip Cash

Another Halloween pick!

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“If she couldn’t move the girl, she would do her best to preserve her innocence, or what was left of it.”

Summer of 2013 – Oyster Bay – Seventeen year old Arielle was angry at her dad and his choices. She wanted to rebel, but still wasn’t ready to give herself to Chad, her boyfriend of six months.  The two teens argued about this as they stood outside his new Camaro, leaning against an old oak tree.

This wasn’t just an ordinary tree; it was the “hanging tree”,  home to generations of spirits plagued with a curse. The inhabitants spied on these two teens, relaying their opinions to each other. However, the most interesting exchanges were the confessions of their own tragic stories, and the curse.

This curse started about three hundred seventy years earlier with Goody Bennett who spent her days with her cat Remedy, while concocting potions. Her granddaughter, Claire wanted to leave the “witch’s tools” and spend her life with the respected Reverend, the leader of their quaint community. Unfortunately this young, handsome Reverend had other, rather malicious plans.

Fast forward to the early twentieth century and Martin’s stepfather had specific plans for him, that of attending Harvard Law School. However, Martin wanted to join the army and was also concealing  a shocking secret.

Would Arielle and Chad be stricken by the same curse as those captured by the tree before?

Though I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, I think that The Hanging Tree is geared towards young adults. Author Michael Phillip Cash accomplishes a lot in only ninety one pages. He parallels three generations of stories dealing with family issues, rebellion, sexuality, hypocrisy, deceit, prejudice and finally acceptance. This is all achieved without sacrificing character or imagery.

I would still recommend The Hanging Tree as a Halloween treat, and would encourage parents to share this with teens and young adults any time of year.

 

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