The Witch Elm: Book summary and reviews of The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Witch Elm

by Tana French

The Witch Elm by Tana French X
The Witch Elm by Tana French
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published Oct 2018
    528 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A brilliant new work of suspense that turns a crime story inside out.

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he 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.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. French, author of the award-winning Dublin Murder Squad series, delivers a spellbinding stand-alone novel carefully crafted in her unique, darkly elegant prose style, which Stephen King has called 'incandescent.'" - Booklist

"Starred Review. French's slow-burning, character-driven examination of male privilege is timely, sharp, and meticulously crafted. Recommended for her legions of fans, as well as any readers of literary crime fiction." - Library Journal

"Edgar-winner French is at her suspenseful best in this standalone, in which an Irishman, who's always considered himself a lucky person, has to reassess his past in the light of a gruesome find on the grounds of his family's ancestral home." - Publishers Weekly

"... the story is compelling, and French is deft in unraveling this book's puzzles... Psychologically intense." - Kirkus

This information about The Witch Elm was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

techeditor

Takes you places you don't expect
Don’t believe any fewer-than-four-star reviews of THE WITCH ELM by Tana French. It really deserves five stars for its many layers and thoughtfulness. Maybe they just don’t get it.

Toby has always been a lucky guy. Then two burglars break into his apartment, steal a few things, and beat the living daylights out of him. But he lives. So people say he is, again, lucky.

The worst of Toby’s injuries is to his head. Some readers may not realize that his limp and other physical manifestations are results of his head injury. But Toby's messed-up brain is also controlling his memory and language skills.

Because of all this, Toby is having to deal with a new life. His thoughts are constantly going here, then there, then there. Plus the reader can see signs of PTSD all over the place. But he doesn't look as bad as he is.

So this is the Toby who goes with his girlfriend to live with his dying uncle. While they are there, a skull is found inside the trunk of a tree in the garden, and later the police find more. Toby deals with detectives and gradual revelations from his cousins as they insinuate that he might be guilty of murder. He can't remember.

While all French's novels are very good, both in characterization and plot, THE WITCH ELM is one of her better ones. It is full of intelligent introspection, and it takes you places you don't expect.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Tana French Author Biography

Tana French is also the author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place and The Trespasser. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Author Interview
Link to Tana French's Website

Other books by Tana French at BookBrowse
  • The Secret Place jacket

8 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more thrillers...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...
  • Book Jacket: Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    by Kevin Wilson
    The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with ...
  • Book Jacket: Foster
    Foster
    by Claire Keegan
    Irish author Claire Keegan is experiencing a surge in popularity, thanks to the selection of her ...
  • Book Jacket
    Dr. No
    by Percival Everett
    Percival Everett's novel Dr. No follows Wala Kitu, a professor of mathematics at Brown University ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Honor
by Thrity Umrigar
Set in India, a tender and evocative novel about love across a cultural divide, familial devotion and betrayal.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Izquierdo
    by Rubén Degollado

    A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.