The instant forest

The Trees by Ali Shaw
The Trees by Ali Shaw
  • The Trees by Ali Shaw
  • Bloomsbury, £14.99 (ebook £10.04)
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When a forest erupts through the ground overnight, the modern landscape that we recognise today is destroyed and mankind is thrown into complete and utter turmoil. There is no warning. No chance to prepare.

The rumblings arrive in the night: thundering up through the ground, transforming streets and towns into shadowy forest. What’s left is almost unrecognisable as what went before. Buildings are destroyed. Broken bodies, still wrapped in tattered bed linen, hang among the twitching leaves.

Adrien Thomas has never been much of a hero. But when he realises that no help is coming amid the chaos, he ventures out in the hope of finding his wife Michelle, who is across the sea in Ireland.

Along the way he meets green-fingered Hannah and her teenage son Seb, who is also on a search both for her forester brother and to discover just how deep the forest goes.

A gripping journey to the heart of wilderness, this book exquisitely captures the conflict between nature and man, but also between defeat and determination. The reader is plunged into a narrative that is simultaneously bewildering and yet somehow hauntingly familiar, forcing us to consider how the natural world has become an elusive stranger to us all.

The Trees is a stunning and vivid examination of the relationship between humans and the environment in which they live. Violent, beautiful, devastating and utterly enchanting, it’s a complete triumph for Ali Shaw, who masterfully brings every detail of the book to life. A wonderfully imaginative story, but also a compelling social commentary.

The Trees is a rarity and an absolute must-read; as one critic put it, this book does for trees what Hitchcock did for birds.