The Trees by Ali Shaw

Posted on Mar 29, 2020


The Storyline

The Trees by Ali Shaw courtesy of

One day, Adrien Thomas wakes to find his wife has gone, and that trees have grown all around him and his neighbourhood, and the entire country. The United Kingdom has become one big forest and returned to nature once again.

With no idea if the rest of the world is the same, or it’s just isolated to his area, and no idea where his wife is, he is deeply afraid and worried.

He’s never made much of himself at all, even as a teacher, but will go on a journey that will change his, and other’s lives forever, and face a destiny he never thought possible. Along the way he meets Hannah and her teenage son Seb, and the mysterious Hiroko. Nothing will ever be the same again for them all, especially for Adrien. For it’s not just nature that has returned, but other things too whispering in the trees…

The Review

Right, first up, this is another one I read some time ago, sometime back in 2016/2017 when it came out in paperback, and looking at it now as I type this review, the imagery of the story fills my mind once again, such was its impact on me at the time.

I remember seeing it in Waterstones whilst browsing for something a little different from my usual fare, and suddenly, the beautiful cover caught my attention, the likes of which I haven’t seen before. I was instantly drawn to it, This Wolf/Fox made of leaves, and other things discarded by nature. The cover caught my imagination so much that I promised I would get a tattoo of it, such is it beauty, and I only have one (of a Wolf).

I read the blurb on the back cover about trees suddenly exploding everywhere from the earth, Mother Nature fighting back against humanity. It grabbed me straight off and I knew I was going to like it, but what I didn’t know was by how much I would come to love it. Looking at it now I want, no, need to read it again, and make it a yearly thing, like the great Christopher Lee did with The Lord of the Rings, such is the power of the story for me. My copy is battered and bruised sadly, so I will need to seek out another one, preferably a signed hardback and paperback; but I’ll keep this one for yearly purposes alone.

The central character of Adrien Thomas, a self-confessed coward, is an intriguing one, and also one that frustrates you too, and yet you have hope for him, and want him to succeed and snap out of whatever it is that holds him back from being the person he is meant to be.

What with Covid-19 going on at the moment, and people panicking, this book shows how civilisation breaks down, and how once good people turn into something nasty, doing all they can to survive in a world they don’t understand, but only fear. I loved the main characters of course, but Hiroko was my favourite, a brave young adult from Japan with a mysterious past who somehow seems to know how to survive in the wilderness and takes no crap from anyone, and yet you know she has a good heart. She has a pet fox for company called Yasuo, who you’ll get attached to, like her.

A Whisperer courtesy of the writer and artist Ali Shaw

And then there is the fantasy side of it, that harks back to our mythological past and the Faerie tales we all grew up with; not the silly Disney ones, but the dark stories of which they stole and simplified from. The imagery of them is something to behold, and unlike anything I have read in a long while. The Whisperers (pictured and drawn by Ali Shaw, some of which are in the book) are creepy, yet incredible, and you soon come to want them to appear more and more as you turn the pages. There are other things too, but I shan’t spoil it for you.

If this had a soundtrack to it, I’d put Björk and Enya on their just for starters, along with the great Howard Shore. Maybe if it is turned into a film. The Financial Times called it “Tarantino meets Middle Earth,” which is preposterous and an insult I think, being labelled alongside someone as uncreative as Tarantino, but an honour to be in the vicinity of Tolkien’s world. It’s but a dream for some of us amateurs, let alone a professional Like Ali Shaw!

If it was to have a director, then it would have to go to someone like Peter Jackson for what he did with The Lord of the Rings, but my personal choice for someone who could do it justice would be Guillermo Del Toro, a man who has vision unlike anyone out there, with the exception of Luc Besson. The mind boggles at how beautiful it would be under Del Toro. Just think Pans Labyrinth and you have a general idea of its potential. It’s giving me palpitations thinking about it and there can be no-one else really to do it. I know it would be award worthy too, maybe even Oscar worthy?

I simply cannot praise this book enough. It is simply a perfect tale of morality, humanity and how we treat our planet and all life on it, including trees and plants. In our arrogance we think we can control everything, and in doing so we destroy what we need, and ultimately ourselves.

Buy this book and don’t look back. It’s an instant classic and I hope it will be remembered in the years to come. In fact it will. You will not regret it. Of that I promise you. This, without doubt has been the longest review I’ve done, so I’d better stop here.

As ever, support your local library, and please buy from book shops, especially independent ones if you can, otherwise this is available from all good retailers everywhere.

Buy, Read and Enjoy

Posted in: Books