Tuesday, December 22, 2015

'Puzzle Trees' by Thom Mark Shepard

A high school freshman grapples with change, loss, and little green monsters.

Countless vampire and zombie novels have been published for young adults, but Puzzle Trees uniquely explores the impact of horror entertainment upon one vulnerable high school freshman.

The Story

High school freshman Joe Sheffield has only recently begun to control his obsession with all things grim and gruesome. But when two of his best friends move away, and his last best friend gravitates toward a new set of friends, Joe feels his dark fantasies and phobias returning with a vengeance, even as he is drawn to Gina, a mysterious bird-like classmate with her own dark secret.
While searching for his principal's kitten, Joe discovers that several cats have disappeared within a single day from his principal's neighborhood. Unable to accept a more rational explanation, he comes to believe that predatory green primates have moved among the "puzzle trees," those decaying woods that lie between his principal's house and his own. When Theo, his skeptical but equally troubled half-brother, pays Joe a surprise visit, they go hunting for these possibly real, possibly imaginary creatures. Their astonishing discovery opens the door to a deeper mystery, one with potentially tragic consequences, which Joe must face alone.


From the author:

"I am a librarian who has worked several years in public television, specializing in digital preservation. An earlier version of Puzzle Trees, titled The Green Apettes was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Young Adult contest, as well as a finalist in the Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest (Children's/Young Adult). I have won the Ellis Literary Award for Short Fiction, and have received a Pushcart Prize nomination."

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