Today, I'll be discussing Tana French's latest novel, The Witch Elm.
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Toby is a charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating at a bar friends when his night takes a turn that changes his life--he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries and coming to terms with the fact that he may never be the same again, Toby takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then, a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden. And as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
The Witch Elm is quite different from French's other novels—those featured in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. Unlike the DMS books, which are police procedurals narrated by detectives, French's latest is a standalone, told through the perspective of a young man who's dealing with the aftermath of his assault.
This latest novel features superb writing, an intriguing cast of characters, and a captivating storyline.
However, The Witch Elm's downfall comes in the book's last chapters, when French's fascinating novel is altered by the anticlimactic scenes in which the crime is solved. After the murderer is uncovered, The Witch Elm takes a bizarre turn. The last 50 pages of The Witch Elm are quite unrelated and unnecessary to the story. These scenes not only take away from the narration, they also shift the focus of the story. This novel goes from telling a story of healing and recovery, to telling a story of the human psyche.
Tana French's latest could've been a great read if not for its immense shift in the closing scenes.
I had a great time reading this twisted tale, but would not recommend it to others. If you're eager to try a French novel, check out the Dublin Murder Squad series!
Did you like The Witch Elm? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.