Guest Review: The Paradise Trees - Linda Huber

The Paradise Tree by Linda Huber
Review: The Paradise Trees - Linda Huber September 2013

While on her way home for a six weeks stay, after not seeing her father since her sixteenth birthday, Alicia is tormented by a little girl's voice in her head, warning her that she is in a dangerous place. Alicia cannot rid herself of the bitter feelings towards her dad, now an elderly, disabled man suffering from a serious stroke and dementia. She has to take care of his body, since his mind has left him as well.

Home was not how she described the place she grew up in, where she was constantly and brutally punished - mentally, physically and emotionally so. Even her beautiful long hair was hacked off her head by a ruthless fundamentalist father who rejected everything interfering with his interpretation of religion and God.

Accompanying her is her eight year old daughter who will meet her grandfather for the first time. Alicia plans to make her little daughter's experience the total opposite of what she had endured.

The nagging young girl in Alicia's head becomes more agitated when she finally arrives at her old address in Lower Banford. The feeling will just not go away that she is in danger. She is also still terribly afraid of her father.

In a fast moving, gripping plot, a tale is born which introduces danger via the voice in Alicia's head. However, a much more real danger (the stranger) is present right from the very beginning of the story, and although Alicia is aware of a menace she cannot pinpoint, but knows is there,she would try to find it in the wrong place and people.

There is an interesting sub-theme in the book. The dominant characters, whom she reaches out to in coping with events, are all men. They represent true cruelty, -kindness, -strength, -weakness, -friendship and -fear. There is no strong women role models in her life. Alicia is confronted with a smorgasbord of emotions ranging from intense hatred to unconditional love. Some of them are unlocked by nightmarish flashbacks and others by new experiences in Lower Banford. It was men who destroyed, stole her childhood, and it will be men who will lead her to healing. They are there to support her when she finally, and almost too late, have to confront the Paradise Trees in the woods.

Another sub theme is the full circle her little daughter will complete for her. Eight-year-old Jenny will be the happy little girl, playing with the dog named Conker, the cats, and her toys in the woods, making friends, that Alicia was denied by both her parents. Jenny will experience the intense joy and happiness her mother was never allowed. She will also become instrumental in her mom's confrontation of the real danger, almost at a very high price for both of them...

This is a mystery thriller that you will not be able to put down once you have read the first sentence. The issues are real, like the characters. The book is a light read - it won't leave the reader emotionally plundered. It is gripping, interesting, and a very well-planned debut novel for Linda Hubert - a well-deserved three stars read



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