The Girl Who Hid In The Trees – Steve Stred
Reviewed by D.K. Hundt
Steve Stred, who lives in Edmonton, AB, Canada with his wife, son and their dog Oj, is the author of the novel Invisible, two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri Jane: the 816 Chronicles, and the novella featured in this review, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees. which includes a Foreword written by Gavin Kendall of Kendall Reviews, and three bonus short stories.
Gavin discovered his love of Horror at the age of ten in the early eighties, as did I, though the authors who inspired our interest in the genre slightly differ, the commonality is our ability to pinpoint the exact moment we knew we would be Horror fans for life. In the closing, Gavin says he has ‘absolutely no doubt in [his] mind that Steve Stred is going to be one of those authors that a young reader will discover . . . and in reading him, a spark will ignite, setting them off on the journey of being a lifelong fan of Horror’, and I couldn’t agree more.
I received an unedited version of The Girl Who Hid In The Trees a few months ago, and after reading the novella, I felt Stred’s writing shined in the second half of the book as opposed to the first. However, after reading the edited version, wherein some of the narrative is tightened up, details are changed to enhance believability regarding those who have gone missing over the centuries, and a bit of character development, though I’d love to see more, I can now say that The Girl Who Hid In The Trees is one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Stred and I met as volunteers last year, when we both became part of the Kendall Reviews team, to read and review books written by authors in our favorite genres. As many of you know, I believe in being honest in my reviews, never holding my opinion back, so, when I give praise for this book, I want you to know I’m doing so bias free.
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees is a coming-of-age dark tale told from young Jason’s point of view, the main character, and then switches back to third person, after the Prologue, when readers introduced to the surroundings of the antagonist, and again later in the story; a technique that can be admittedly confusing for the reader. Stred makes this shift early in the novella, and later, by way of a smooth transition that I think is effective in creating distance between Jason, (and by extension, the reader) and the darkness that lurks in McConnell Forest. Stred does a great job of balancing the blood and gore with well-placed humor, shocking moments that may cause your jaw to drop as it did mine, and a touching love story in the middle of the nightmare. As I look back, after reading both versions of this novella, it’s the poetic prose of the antagonist, sung from the lips of this once angelic creature, that brings a sinister grin to my face and has me wanting more. I don’t want to give too much away about The Girl Who Hid In The Trees, but I will leave you with this excerpt from the book to entice you:
‘Before them was a long, lush sandy beach that disappeared into some of the bluest water we had laid our eyes on. It was a hidden paradise in the middle of a deeply troubled nightmare. McConnell’s Forest had its share of secrets, but this was one I was glad it gave up.’
In closing, if my review or the synopsis of The Girl Who Hid In The Trees sparks your interest, then, by all means, take a bite, and delve into the creative mind of the author – you may be surprised what you find lurking within.
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
D. K. Hundt is an American writer with a BA degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not writing contemporary fiction and horror/supernatural stories, she likes to spend her free time working as a volunteer in her community, being a minion for her cat Simon, warding off carnivorous spiders, and throwing herself into and around the dark alleyways of Stephen King novels in search of inspiration. D. K. resides in California with her husband, and she is currently working on a horror novel titled, Cheveyo–a story about a young boy who goes to live with his grandpa on a reservation, and soon discovers that the malevolent creatures that lurk in the Okanogan Forest aren’t the only deadly secret the locals are hiding.
You can follow D.K. on Twitter @DKHundt1
Please visit D.K.’s official website www.dkhundt.com