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JUDAS TREE - 1999
By Simon Clark
Hodder & Stoughton
423 pp. Trade Paperback
The Greek island of Voros is "nothing more than the top of a once-great mountain
that sank beneath the sea." There are no stores, no vehicles, no television or radio.
The island is a community unto itself.
And every inhabitant has a story.
Amelia Thomas is recovering from an accident when she receives an invitation to stay
with her mother at The Palms, her villa located on the island. She arrives
to find a different Voros than what she expected. It is not a large, touristy
beach but rather the tip of a mountain with only a dozen villas spread
over it. Voros is not a friendly island, everything is steep and craggy,
populated by Judas trees. Everything is a bit off on Voros, including
its inhabitants. And when the storms come, the fierce Gregale, it is impossible
to leave . . .
One of Simon Clark's strong points is the use of setting and atmosphere. These elements
are showcased in JUDAS TREE. His description of Voros and The Palms are what makes the story. You do not just read
about the island, you visit it. You smell it. You live there for the time
it takes you to read the book and when you're done it does not go away.
This is what horror writing is about, what it should be.
JUDAS TREE is perhaps the best novel I've read all year. It is intriguing and mysterious.
It captivated me from the first word. I picked it up intending a quick
look but was compelled to read the whole thing.
Part Alice in Wonderland, part Hill House and all Clark, JUDAS TREE is a book that
should not be missed. If you are looking for an action-packed hardcore
novel, this is not the book for you. But if you are in the mood for a
supernatural horror novel in the tradition of Shirley Jackson, don't wait
- pick it up now. Unfortunately it is only for sale in the UK (that
means you have to buy it on-line all you nonUkers - Feo), but it
is more than worth the price (the total came to $16 for the paperback).
I give it 4 BookWyrms.
This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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