The Family Tree by John Everson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Horror
Length: Full Length (177 pgs)
Other: M/F, Multiple Partners, Forced Seduction, Voyeurism
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown
Its roots are old…and twisted! The blood of the tree is its sap. It has sustained Scott Belvedere’s family for generations. It’s the secret ingredient behind the family’s intoxicating ale and bourbon, among other elixirs. But only when Scott inherits The Family Tree Inn, deep in the hills of Virginia, does he learn anything about his family, its symbiotic history, or the mammoth, ancient tree around which the inn is literally built. And after he stumbles upon the bony secrets hidden in its roots, while in the welcoming arms of the innkeeper’s daughter, he realizes that not only is blood thicker than water-it’s the only thing that might save him from the hideous fate of his ancestors…
A family that preys together stays together…
When Scott Belvedere receives a letter stating he is the heir for an inn in a remote part of Virginia, he is set on getting rid of the property and resuming his normal life. When he arrives at the Family Tree Inn, all of that changes.
The Family Tree Inn is an institution run by the Belvedere men for generations. A bloody history of land rights and property disputes, to say the locale has a shady past might be something more than an understatement. It’s nestled in an incredible back woods mountainous terrain with a strong Appalachian twang. Feeling a bit like a fish out of water, Scott gets to know the land and the people that live there. People that age much slower than the world around them. People that may be involved in something more than merely running an inn.
As he begins to wander the property he notices some odd things that don’t make sense, but lead him even further down the path of ownership of the inn. Should he stay and run the place or go back to his life in Chicago? When he is introduced to the daughter of the housekeeper, Caroline, his interest is piqued, along with his growing taste for the house brew.
The inn revolves around the tree. Would within and without, the Family Tree is all things to the people of this backward place. Tapping the tree for the mead and whiskey, the tree is life. But what Scott doesn’t realize is what the tree gives, it also must take. A member of the Belvedere family has always been the keeper of the tree and he is about to find out just how much the tree expects from him.
There is a strong erotic element to this novel. As Scott ingests more and more of the blood of the tree through the house brew, he becomes to realize one of the side effects. He is perpetually in rut and is put in the position of taking sometimes three women a night. The way the story is laid out may not entirely appeal to female readers as the women are depicted in a 2-D kind of fashion where their primary focus is getting pregnant by the heir to the tree. It was a good horror novel despite this and in some ways reminded me of The Wicker Man (the newer version). As the story progresses, the debauchery does as well. What was erotic becomes forced and Scott is taken and tapped much like the tree. There is no escaping his fate. He is the heir and the heir must provide.
Can Scott break away from the hold of the Family Tree and its devoted disciples? Is the blood of the few worth more than the many? You’ll have to read this fast paced thriller to find out.