Title: Dead Trees Give No Shelter
Author: Wil Wheaton
Length: 2 hours
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Skyboat Media
Original Publication Date: 2017
Genre(s): Novella, Horror, Fantasy
Jay Turner left his hometown of Garron, Ohio behind 20 years ago, along with everything and everyone in it. But now he’s back for his brother’s murderer’s execution. Jay’s mind has blocked everything that happened that tragic night all those years ago. The last thing he can remember is sitting in his backyard with his brother, listening to their mother tell scary stories. And then…Charlie was dead. Now that Jay’s back in town, he can’t wait to get out again. But something keeps him there a little longer, as the pieces of that night start coming together.
Dead Trees Give No Shelter is a horror novella worth reading. It’s told in third-person POV and follows Jay, alternating back-and-forth between present-day and the past. As Jay pieces together the events of the night Charlie died, we as readers already know what’s happened, thanks to the flashback chapters. What we as readers don’t know, however, is the why, and where the story is going to end up. The flashbacks, of course, are the most interesting—the meaty parts of the story containing all the horror. In contrast, the present-day storyline is more tedious and slow-moving, as Jay is coming to terms with what the reader already knows (more or less). But when the two storylines collide at the end—that’s the best part, because everything slams together in place (for the most part).
I say “for the most part” because there is something that kind of bugged me: the resolution. I liked the way it ended a lot. I love these types of stories where everything just circles back like that. What I didn’t like was the lack of why. I won’t go into this because I don’t like spoilers, but I could have done with a little more explanation of the whole thing. It didn’t feel like it totally made sense. Though that’s a huge “oof” that hurts my opinion of the story, it doesn’t completely detract my opinion of the story,
The main character is likable, though you’ll probably just pity him the whole time. For a short-story, the supporting characters are flushed out just enough to make them feel real but not too much so that it takes away from the action of the story. This story is definitely more about the horror and action rather than character development. Though the central plot of the story is not unique, Wheaton tells it in a way that makes you not care if you’ve heard it before. It’s a good story, and I’m glad Wheaton wrote it as a short novella and not a full-on novel. It was right the way it was.
If you’re looking for a short horror/fantasy story to satisfy your creepy-craving, you should definitely look into getting your hands on Dead Trees Give No Shelter. And if you love Wheaton’s voice like I do, the audiobook is narrated flawlessly by none other than Wheaton himself. This story is short and chilling, and will make you think twice about revisiting that small, rural hometown you grew up in.