Pine by Francine Toon


Francine Toon

I found this a mysterious, atmospheric and moving story about Lauren, a young girl and her alcoholic father, living in a remote spot in the rugged Highlands. Lauren misses her unconventional mother who disappeared when Lauren was just a small child. She has few friends and when one of them goes missing in the woods strange things happen ... And that's what grabbed me, drew me in and I was hooked.


Can I ask you something? Are you a vampire? Are you a kelpie?
She doesn't say these words aloud, but instead looks over to her dad and says to the woman: 'It's OK. We'll look after you.’

The pale young woman is still staring at the wall, making Lauren wonder if she is deaf or speaks any English at all. As if reading her thoughts, the woman looks her in the eyes and smiles.

Lauren looks away. 'Dad, I'm hungry.' She can't help but glance back. There is something unearthly about the fabric of this woman's dressing gown and the colour of her hair. Unearthly and yet familiar. Perhaps it is the way she smelled when she was sitting close to Lauren in the pickup truck. Musky, warm blood and soil, like a nocturnal animal that has come out from its den. The woman sits still but shifts around in Lauren's mind. Her eyes are huge and black. When Lauren turns away, she can feel the eyes burying into her back.

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