author: Alice Blanchard
series: Natalie Lockhart #3
published: 7 December 2021
publisher: Minotaur Books
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | BookBub | BookHype | Goodreads
Welcome to Burning Lake, a small, isolated town with a dark history of witches and false accusations. Now, a modern-day witch has been murdered, and Detective Natalie Lockhart is reluctantly drawn deep into the case, in this atmospheric mystery from Alice Blanchard, The Witching Tree.
As legend has it, if you carve your deepest desire into the bark of a Witch Tree, then over time as the tree grows, it will swallow the carvings until only a witch can read them.
Detective Natalie Lockhart gained unwanted notoriety when she and her family became front and center of not one, but two sensational murder cases. Now she's lost her way. Burned out and always looking over her shoulder, Natalie desperately thinks that quitting the police force is her only option left.
All that changes when a beloved resident--a practicing Wiccan and founder of the town's oldest coven--is killed in a fashion more twisted and shocking than Natalie has ever seen before, leaving the town reeling. Natalie has no choice but to help solve the case along with Detective Luke Pittman, her boss and the old childhood friend she cannot admit she loves, even to herself. There is a silent, malignant presence in Burning Lake that will not rest. And what happens next will shock the whole town, and Natalie, to the core.
The Witching Tree is the third book in the Natalie Lockhart. While the book could be read as a standalone, you will definately not get the full experience without reading the first two in the series. There are events from the other books that are referenced throughout, and they are truly important to the characterization of Natalie, who is very different in this book.
Life has been hard for her, and too much has happened to leave her unscathed. She’s questioning virtually every aspect of her life, her career and her love life. But even though she’s seriously considering leaving the police force, a career she’s always wanted, she can’t leave with unfinished business… which is the latest murder in Burning Lake. The high priestess of one of one of the only two historical Wiccan coven was found brutally murdered on the train tracks.
The opening of this book is incredibly heartbreaking and gripping, immediately drawing in readers. The story was utterly engrossing, fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns and a fair number of red herrings. There was a lot of emotion through Natalie’s struggles, through the horrific aspects to the case. And there was plenty of suspense and anticipation.
My only criticism of the book was the major cliffhanger ending. I don’t mind cliffhangers, a few loose threads to explore in the next book. But this was far more than that. It was incredibly significant, made worse by the fact that this book came out in 2021, and the next doesn’t come out until the summer of 2023! But the book still kept me in its grasp, and I can’t wait for the next, The Shadow Girls.
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