The Which Way Tree (Paperback)
Back Bay Books, 9780316434942, 288pp.
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (2/5/2018)
Library Binding, Large Print (6/27/2018)
Pre-Recorded Audio Player (4/6/2018)
Compact Disc (2/6/2018)
Compact Disc (2/6/2018)
Early one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter's life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred.
Narrated in Benjamin's beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha's unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother's death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle.
In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl's revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin's storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love that carries a sister and brother through a perilous adventure with all the dimensions of a legend.
"A ripping adventure [with] a show-stopping finale."-Wall Street Journal
"The stuff of legends."-Attica Locke
"Powerful, sly, and often charming."-Daniel Woodrell
About the Author
Praise For The Which Way Tree…
"An absorbing coming-of-age novel...Benjamin is a keen observer and reliable narrator...These adventure tales, if told well, are plenty riveting and enduring. The Which Way Tree is told well."—Rod Davis, Texas Observer
"Crook manages in The Which Way Tree the striking feat of not only capturing the voice of a 19th century youth as honestly and compellingly as Mark Twain but also having her Texas Huck recount a Moby Dick-like pursuit across Texas in which the White Whale is a malevolent mountain lion and its Ahab is a girl it mauled while killing her mother."—Austin Chronicle
intimate novel illustrates how, at their best, historical westerns provide
insight into human nature tested by the sort of extreme conditions that rarely
crop up in contemporary American settings."
"Exuberant . . . Benjamin's voice has echoes of Huckleberry Finn, while his sister's pursuit of the deadly cat recalls True Grit."—Tom Beer, Newsday
"How Crook managed to channel the voice of a seventeen-year-old boy in 1860s Texas so convincingly I can't say, but Benjamin is both persuasive and captivating, a fully realized character that you gladly follow across the Lone Star State. In his youth and lack of education and simple, declarative voice, he calls to mind another figure from nineteenth-century American literature, Huck Finn. Benjamin shares Huck's keen eye for observing human nature and teasing out some sense of what it means. His voice is another way in which Crook grips the reader, and may be the novel's secret weapon . . . Like some of the finest books that came out of our nation's first century and a quarter, The Which Way Tree leads us into the wild, where characters must confront both the wildness in nature and the wildness in their own nature. That which is in Sam's heart has the awesome force of a thunderstorm-or a mountain lion-and can no more be tamed than either of them can. But Elizabeth Crook has at least wrestled hers onto the page and lets us get close to it, close enough for the hairs on our arms to rise. In this remarkable novel, she's given us something wild to wonder at, and to be moved by."—Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle
"This riveting Western has a bit of True Grit feel."—CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun
"Samantha is frustrating and, like her brother Benjamin, sometimes I too wanted to strangle her, but I couldn't help but root for her . . . Crook's novel keeps the plot moving fast and the dramatic tension high . . . It's a story that hooked me from the get-go, and when Benjamin finishes his last letter to the judge, I wanted the story to continue . . . Fans of Paulette Jiles's News of the World will be gratified to find another well-told, old-time Texas tale of big adventure and big characters."—Emily Spicer, San Antonio Express News
"The Which Way Tree is adventurous, suspenseful, and charming...you're going to want to read this one."—Elizabeth Entenman, HelloGiggles
"The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I've read before...an enthralling adventure, a Texas fairy tale in the truest sense of that term."—Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
appealed to me immediately. Elizabeth Crook has written a beautiful novel with
seeing the old Texas frontier: at very close range, through the eyes of a
wise-beyond-his-years seventeen-year-old boy and the sister whose defiant quest
he joins. The result is a small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and
" 'Preacher Dob said, Vengeance belongs to the Lord, Samantha. She said, Only if he can beat me to it.' This told me everything I needed to know about Samantha Shreve, a character who knocked my socks off from her first appearance on the page. This book is the stuff of legends, tales told for a hundred years around Texas campfires. Written in a form that is historically accurate and yet feels painstakingly intimate, The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I've read before."—Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird
"The Which Way Tree is one part Track of the Cat, one part True Grit, and one part Tom Sawyer, a ruthless pedigree for a novel that displays human nature in its most beautiful form--a marvel."—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of The Western Star, a Walt Longmire mystery
"In The Which Way Tree, Elizabeth Crook has conjured a powerful, sly, and often charming tale delivered in the winning voice of Benjamin. This novel is a fast-paced story resonating with rich characters and mythic elements that come to us as folklore that mustn't be doubted."—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version
Crook has created a book of marvels. Its comedy is steeped in the hardscrabble
tragedies of a wilder old America. You will even catch an echo of Twain's wit
in the picaresque narration."
"Not since True Grit have I read a novel this charming, exciting, suspenseful, and pitch-perfect. The Which Way Tree is winning from first page to last."—Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
"Recalls Cormac McCarthy's horseback meandering and keen eye for terrain and flora in The Crossing. There are also obvious echoes of True Grit, though Sam is even more fiercely single-minded than Mattie . . . An entertaining picture of harsh, stark life in the Old West."—Kirkus Reviews