Dark secrets lie at the heart of this haunting and powerful novel set in an isolated village in the Scottish Highlands.
'It's both eerie and thrilling at once, and had me under its spell until the end.' Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.
In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.
Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.
'Hugely atmospheric, exquisitely written and utterly gripping.' Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party
“‘PINE combines the Gothic sensibilities of Shirley Jackson with the psychologically astute suspense of Gillian Flynn. Both tautly written and deeply atmospheric, it’s a story steeped in the spooky grandeur of the Scottish highlands. At once a supernatural mystery, portrayal of small town claustrophobia and a coming-of-age novel, Francine Toon’s empathetic depiction of childhood and mourning will leave you gripped and transfixed.’”
Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
“A literary gothic thriller to chill the marrow”
“From the first page PINE casts a sense of slowly-rising unease that is completely compelling. It's both eerie and thrilling at once, and had me under its spell until the end.”
Sophie Mackintosh, author of THE WATER CURE
“'If there's any doubt that the Gothic thriller is enjoying a boom, Francine Toon's debut should settle the matter. PINE, a moving study of memory and loss, is both spooky and tender; drenched in a sense of place and yet eerily timeless.'”
“I loved this book! Hugely atmospheric, exquisitely written and utterly gripping.”
Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party
“This haunting debut is a must-read for fans of eerie gothic fiction”
“Francine Toon's touching account of a flawed, yet tender, father-daughter relationship in PINE is all the more compelling against the starkly beautiful backdrop of the Scottish highlands.”
Livia Franchini, author of Shelf Life
“A beautifully crafted gothic tale of isolation and not belonging. Thoroughly gripping and stunningly atmospheric.”
Lucy McKnight Hardy, author of Water Shall Refuse Them
“The novel's strength is its evocation of bleak landscapes and complex characters”
“This is true modern gothic ... Toon’s plain, poetic language has a hypnotic quality.”
“With Pine, (Toon) … has passed the debut hurdle in striking style.”
“The pristine prose of Pine is wrapped inside an eerily evocative cover illustration of a stag whose back and haunches have dissolved into trees and resembles the stylised opening credits for True Detective, the HBO drama. The story within is as gripping as any boxset.”
Sunday Times Scotland
“Marries the claustrophobia of rural life with fascinating hints of Scottish myths, to create an emotional read with the pace of a thriller.”
Irish Country Magazine
“Splicing small-town domestic drama with grisly mystery and occult thrills, it’s a cleverly crafted debut.”
“A remarkable debut.”
“(A) pacey horror-tinged novel ... Even with the strange and supernatural goings-on in the woods, it’s the rage and grief and darkness of grown-ups that’s the biggest mystery of all.”
Telegraph, Best First Novels of 2020
“Pine is a thrill of a book.”
“A memorable debut from a promising new writer.”
“Has all the ingredients of a modern gothic.”
Herald, Hot List 2020
“A haunting tale”
“An evocative read which will keep you guessing”
“[A] simmering gothic thriller”
“A debut novel that's carefully calibrated to make every single hair on the back of your neck stand up on end”
Scotland on Sunday
“A tantalising quality coats every surface as you work your way through Pine, with Toon giving us just enough morsels of back-story or character trait to keep us strapped in … one of the standout debuts of the year”
“A modern gothic thriller that draws on the author's own Highland childhood”
“A haunting and heartbreakingly bewitching tale … Packed with folklore, magic and an eerie sense of foreboding every time you turn the page, Pine will captivate readers from the very first page”
“A gothic stirring of folklore and legend”
“Eerie and spell-binding”
“An atmospheric tale of memory and loss, movingly told through a child's eyes.”
Sunday Express Magazine