Pine by Francine Toon
Francine Toon's eerie gothic novel weaves an atmospheric tale of a bereaved young girl in the Scottish Highlands
Set in a remote northern Scottish town, this atmospheric debut deftly treads the line between mystery and the supernatural. Ten-year-old Lauren lives with her dad, Niall. Her mother, Christine, disappeared without a trace some years ago and no one knows her current whereabouts. The story opens with multiple sightings of a mysterious woman around the town, who, on occasion, happens to have extended interactions with people. Yet for some reason, no one but Lauren seems to remember these sightings.
Toon does a brilliant job in conjuring an atmosphere of intrigue and escalating trepidation as the story fleshes out into a supernatural mystery. The mystical elements in this tale about enduring family ties is reminiscent of Jenn Ashworth’s elegantly written Fell, but Pine remains wholly original. It is an authentic portrayal of a bereaved young girl who is on the cusp of adulthood, simultaneously trying to cling on to and blot out the memories of a mother she vaguely remembers. This haunting debut is a must-read for fans of eerie gothic fiction.
Doubleday, 23 January, £12.99