Girl From the Tree House

Girl From the Tree House

, Book # 1
May 30, 2019
ebook from NetGalley
May 30, 2019 June 7, 2019

It all unraveled at the funeral...

Horace Reid's death opened the door to our freedom. His widow, Elizabeth, exists only on paper. She disappeared thirty years ago. It's us, the Tribe, who live in her body now. But nobody knows that. Us are Elise, the reluctant host, Lilly the closer, Ama, the proverbial mother, Sky, our wise guide, Amadeus, the warrior, and Luke, the man around the house. There are others, but we make sure they stay hidden and away from harm.

After Horace's funeral, they tried to lock us in a mental hospital. Our sister-in-law had it all carefully planned. Thanks to quick thinking—yes, being a multiple has its advantages—we escaped to New Zealand's South Island. Tucked away in the West Coast wilderness we... well, the plan was to continue our healing. We didn't expect that monsters from our past still had us on their radar. When the police accuse us of murder we have to run again. Where to go, which way to turn? Our neighbor Scott appears helpful, but can we trust him? Can we trust ourselves? Can we trust anyone?

The GIRL FROM THE TREE HOUSE is the first of a series of psychological thrillers set in current day New Zealand. It describes how Elizabeth, a thirty-two-year-old woman with multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID), fights for her sanity and freedom. Four core personalities tell the story from the inside out, giving a touching insight into the workings of the dissociated mind. There are no graphic descriptions of abuse.

About the book

I would like to thank NetGalley and the author for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a different reading for me, I like psychological thriller and this is quite so. The book category is Mystery & Thrillers and Women’s Fiction on NetGalley website, but I have to say that the “thriller” part, isn’t about a crime as I thought when I read the synopsis. There isn’t even a “real crime” and with that I mean that the murder isn’t the “protagonist” or the main thing that needs to be solved. There is a murder but the protagonist’s tale is the main subject of the book.

The book is told by different points of view, but those points of view belong to the same person. This woman, because of the trauma endured when she was a child, has developed a dissociative identity disorder so the book is told by these multiple personalities that live inside her.

The main personality is Elise, who is the “first born” personality after the trauma that young Elizabeth endured (we don’t know anything about this trauma, we can guess at first but then little by little what really happened becomes clear and to know the complete story we need to read the complete book, which I like). Elise doesn’t think about herself as a “multiple” (as they call her) but she knows she has blackouts.

Then there is Lilly with whom the tale begins. She is at her husband Horace’s funeral, an over seventy man, and Lily begins her tale about the “tribe”, as they call all the ensemble of the personalities,

There is Sky, who with Luke plan the escape. The tribe knows that Elizabeth has a aunt, Amanda, who died 30 years prior who left her her house in the South of the island so Sky and Luke want to take the tribe there, to escape the husband’s sister, Helen, who wants to lock them in a mental facility.

Then there’s Ama who is the cleaner of the group. While she’s cleaning she finds an old photo album. Why the woman in the photo looks like her? The picture is 30 years old! Those small facts, such as Ama who looks like her aunt Amanda, explain how the personalities were born.

And then Amadeus, Casper and even children. Because the personalities aren’t the same age. They’re from 5 years old to 52 (if I recall correctly).

Where do I start to comment this book? It’s a wonderful journey, very different from the usual, I liked meeting all those personalities so much and read about different behaviour of Elizabeth and that those personalities have a voice. They are all so different! I liked the author’s style so much and the fact that the chapters are told by different people is so particular. I liked how she describes all the different personalities in relation with external forces especially with Scott (friend and aunt Amanda’s neighbour, possible Elise’s romantic interest or better Lilly’s).

I liked the comparison that one of the personalities does with a broken vase that is glued together. It is still a vase (still a person) but there are cracks and those cracks are the different personalities. I believe that this is the sentence that best describe this situation.

Another personality says that each one of them can speak a foreign language. I wonder whether this is how Elizabeth is shown in the real world, I mean, when, for example Casper is present can Elizabeth speak Finnish? (because Casper knows that language). If this is true Elizabeth must be a wonderful person. I mean the real person knows a lot of languages.

The book is set in New Zealand, written by a German author but who lives in that far away place. I have a question: Do people in New Zealand use the imperial system (feet and pounds…)? or it’s something that the author uses so Americans will understand it better? And then there are “slang” terms that I thought they were only Americans such as “AWOL”, but I see that she uses them here (maybe they are used in NZ, too). I need to research New Zealand. Right now I know that there are Alps there, too, and that if we excavate, pass by the centre of the earth and come out the other hemisphere, we’re in New Zealand (from Italy of course). Well that’s what they told me in elementary school.

I need to say that when things started to get bad, I almost lost hope to give 5 stars to this book, but luckily everything was solved quite soon and how I hoped. The theme of the book isn’t easy, it isn’t for everyone, but violence scenes aren’t described. It’s said about them but they aren’t shown.

I think I will read the next book because I want to know how the tribe’s story ends (I hope the next book is a sequel of this one) and whether all the personalities will coexist in Elise, or they will be “put to sleep”.

I have a question about the book. During the tale, Elise says she married Horace in 2001. And in the next sentence she says that the marriage lasted 24 years. We’re in 2015 in the book, so it should be 14 years. I don’t know if it is Elise that remembers wrong or if it’s an author’s slip. Or maybe 24 are the years that Elise knew Horace (she was 10 when her parents died). But I’m sure that in the first chapter she says 24 years of marriage. And even Elise’s age is an enigma. In the book, she says she’s 42, but the synopsis says 32. I have an ARC so maybe they corrected everything. I will make a note to the editor when I review on NetGalley.

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