The Wych Elm

The Wych Elm


For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.'

One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

Our Review

The Wych Elm is the first book I have read by Tana French, so I had no idea what to expect but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a slow-burner but in a good way, this was a book to be savoured.

The Wych Elm left me reeling. It was one of those books that stays in your head afterwards.

Toby has been lucky his whole life and he knows it. Then one night he is viciously attacked and left for dead. The attack leaves him changed both physically and mentally to the point where he is barely willing to leave the house.

Toby’s memories of that night are few and those he does have are blurred. Equally damaged are his memories in general, that night has made him doubt everything he knows about himself.

Toby is fed up of everyone tiptoeing around him and is trying desperately to convince people that he is fine, or at least on the mend.

When Toby’s cousin Susanna calls out of the blue asking him to go look after his dying uncle. Toby is reluctant to say the least but then his girlfriend Mellissa talks him into it, and they head for Ivy House.

Then a skull is found in the wych elm in the garden and Toby is forced to question everything he thought he knew including himself.

Ivy House is special to Toby because he and his cousins used to stay there for the summer and he has fond memories of it, which explains why he didn’t want to taint those memories by going there in his poor condition.

“I couldn’t even think about being at the Ivy House, not like this…twilight hide-and-seek among the moths and silver birches, wild-strawberry picnics and gingerbread Christmases, endless teenage parties with everyone lying on the grass gazing up at the stars – All that was unreachable now; that night was a flaming sword burning the way. The Ivy House was the one place that, more than any other I couldn’t bear to see from this far shore.”

Hugo, Toby’s uncle was my favourite character in The Wych Elm and his deterioration was handled delicately.

One of the twists in the book felt slightly unrealistic to me but that didn’t attract from my enjoyment of the book. I won’t say which one though as I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

I am really pleased I chose to request this book for review.


Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4/5

Read & Shared 45 Times.

I hope you enjoyed this book review, please consider sharing it with others.

Get In Touch

Please feel free to leave a comment to this book review below. Or even leave your own review if you like.
If you run a blog and/or have posted a review to this book, a Q & A or general author interview online you can always add a trackback to it here and following moderation we'll add a link to it below.