The Witch Elm / Tana French.

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: "A brilliant new work of suspense from "the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years." (Washington Post) From the writer who "inspires cultic devotion in readers" (The New Yorker) and has been called "incandescent" by Stephen King, "absolutely mesmerizing" by Gillian Flynn, and "unputdownable" (People), comes a gripping new novel 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"-- Provided by publisher.
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  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      FRENCH, T. The Witch Elm. [s.l.] : Viking, 2018. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 20 maio. 2019.
    • AMA:
      French T. The Witch Elm. Viking; 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019.
    • APA:
      French, T. (2018). The Witch Elm. Viking. Retrieved from
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      French, Tana. 2018. The Witch Elm. Viking.
    • Harvard:
      French, T. (2018) The Witch Elm. Viking. Available at: (Accessed: 20 May 2019).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      French, T 2018, The Witch Elm, Viking, viewed 20 May 2019, .
    • MLA:
      French, Tana. The Witch Elm. Viking, 2018. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      French, Tana. The Witch Elm. Viking, 2018.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      French T. The Witch Elm [Internet]. Viking; 2018 [cited 2019 May 20]. Available from:


Booklist Reviews 2018 August #1

*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." Toby Hennessy always considered himself a lucky guy, trading on his considerable charm for a successful life, until he has the misfortune to surprise two burglars in his flat. He is beaten and left for dead, and after a less-than-successful recovery, he agrees to care for his dying uncle, Hugo, at the family's ancestral home while working on regaining his own cognitive and motor skills. When a skull is found in the trunk of an ancient tree in the garden, his dysfunctional brain struggles to reassess the past, evidently not what it once seemed and now abounding in "million-euro" questions. Issues of identity permeate the narrative. Toby's previous forays using fake social-media accounts become an issue for the police. Welcome comic relief comes via Hugo's genealogy investigation service, now in high gear because of Americans confounded by their Irish DNA test results.  Toby finds himself wondering how much he had ever really known about his family, now so disconcerted that their misery is "like some rampaging animal," and the reader gets pulled into the vortex right along with them. As Oscar Wilde wrote, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2018 May #2

In this stand-alone from the multi-award-winning French, easygoing Toby encounters two burglars when returning home from a celebratory night out and is left for dead after a severe beating. Recovering at his ancestral home sounds like a good idea, if it weren't for the skull found in the garden's elm.

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2018 September #2

This first stand-alone novel by French ("Dublin Murder Squad" series) features personable Dubliner Toby. Toby does social media work for an art gallery, maintains close relationships with his cousins Leon and Susanna, and has loose plans to marry girlfriend Melissa. Then one night, two burglers in his apartment beat him senseless and leave him for dead. Struggling mentally and physically, Toby is unable to continue working or living on his own, so he and Melissa move in with his Uncle Hugo, who is in the late stages of brain cancer. When a skeleton found in a tree in the backyard is identified as a high school friend of Toby's, long-held secrets bubble just below the surface. But with Toby's memory problems, he can't be sure how much he knows about Dominic, his death, or any of the people in his life—including himself. VERDICT 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.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2018 August #3

Reviewed by Julie Buntin

The Witch Elm is Tana French's first standalone, following five Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. It's as good as the best of those novels, if not better. In theme and atmosphere, it evokes her earliest two books, Into the Woods and The Likeness, using the driving mystery—of course, there's a murder—as a vehicle for asking complex questions about identity and human nature. But in this latest work, privilege is French's subject; more specifically, the relationship between privilege and what we perceive as luck. Who might we become if the privileges we take for granted were suddenly ripped away?

Instead of a world-weary detective, our narrator is Toby, an easygoing 20-something who has always taken his wild good fortune as a matter of course. He's attractive, clever, and universally liked. A publicist for a Dublin art gallery, he has a girlfriend so saintly that it takes a while for her to register as a real character (or at least for him to see her that way). Then robbers break into his apartment and beat him so badly that the physical damage permeates every aspect of his life, fundamentally altering his appearance, his gait, and his sense of self. His memory is newly riddled with gaps; his frustration as he attempts to discern what's real, what's remembered, and what's paranoia adds fuel to the plot. While he's in the hospital, his beloved Uncle Hugo, keeper of the Ivy House, a family property that's rendered with French's signature attention to real estate, is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Toby moves in with him, both to keep him company and because he, too, needs a caretaker.

When a human skull turns up in a hollow of a witch elm in the backyard of the Ivy House, the plot revs its engine. Who does the skull belong to? And what does Toby have to do with whoever died in his backyard, or at least who was buried there? In typical French fashion, just when you think you've started to piece it all together, the picture shifts before your eyes. It's a bold move to wait until nearly a third of the way into the book to deploy the body. But what might seem like throat-clearing in another writer's novel is taut and tense in The Witch Elm, thanks to a layered network of subplots and the increasing fragmentation of Toby himself. In many ways, the most interesting question the novel asks is not whodunit; it's whether, and how, Toby will come back together again.

Stepping outside the restrictions of the Dublin Murder Squad format suits French. Readers used to the detective's perspective might miss the shop talk, not to mention the pleasure of inhabiting the POV of the smartest character rather than (in this case) the most bewildered. By channeling the story through a narrator who's unfamiliar with the very worst parts of human nature, she's able to put her thematic questions at center stage . She carefully builds Toby up, and then strips every part of him away; the result is a chilling interrogation of privilege and the transformative effects of trauma.

Julie Buntin is the author of Marlena, a novel.

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.