The poignant odyssey of a tenacious young girl who braves the dangers of the Texas frontier to avenge her mother's death.
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
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Whether or not you’re drawn to American Westerns, The Which Way Tree ropes you in. Austin-based author Elizabeth Crook channels the voice of orphan Benjamin Shreve, who’s trying to keep his ornery half-sister Sam safe after the death of their parents. In letters to a sympathetic judge, Benjamin tells the story of his and Sam’s involvement with a sadistic Secessionist soldier accused of murder and a daring hunt for the gargantuan panther that ripped their family apart. Benjamin is a wonderful guide into this wild adventure: he’s funny, enthusiastic, and decent to the bone. Crook’s novel whisked us away from our current reality.
Crook's poignant, plainspoken fifth novel (after Monday, Monday) focuses on historical Texas, this time during the Civil War era. In a framing narrative, Benjamin Shreve recalls the signal events of his 14th year for a judge investigating crimes committed during the war. Eight-year-old Benjamin Shreve, his biracial half-sister, Samantha, and her mother, a former slave, are attacked by a wild panther near their isolated hill country home. Like Ahab Benjamin has read Moby-Dick Samantha cannot forget her animal nemesis, which kills her mother, disfigures her face, and is believed in the region to be demonic. When it returns six years later, she feels driven to track and kill it. With help from a Mexican man fleeing accusations of horse theft and the owner of a skilled "panther dog," the siblings pursue the beast despite its vicious savagery, the punishing Texas landscape, and the machinations of Clarence Hanlin, a rogue Confederate soldier from nearby Camp Verde who becomes embroiled in their mission. Though Samantha's obsession drives the story, her character never fully crystallizes, and the links to Melville's classic can feel forced. But Crook crafts Benjamin's narration beautifully, finding a winning balance between naivet and wisdom, thoughtfulness and grit.
Which way tree
Reads little like “True Grit”. The English phrasing. The court room setting. The girl and her unwavering desire for revenge/justice. Some humor and action pace. No wonder Robert Duvall has optioned the movie rights. As he started in the original True Grit movie.
The Which Way Tree
this way! I absolutely adored this book, even though at times I wanted to smack Sam upside of her head. Engaging characters, an outrageously bold panther and a slew of offbeat western history make this a 2 reader...read it twice . Don’t let “western “ fool you.