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The Which Way Tree


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About the Author

Elizabeth Crook has published four novels, including The Night Journal, which received the Spur award from Western Writers of America, and Monday, Monday, winner of the Jesse H. Jones award from the Texas Institute of Letters, and named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family.


'Utterly convincing, consistent and believable ... The Which Way Tree is a commendable and very readable addition to the tale-spinning tradition and its beautiful use of language.'

* The New York Times *

'In The Which Way Tree, Elizabeth Crook has conjured a powerful, sly, and often charming tale delivered in the winning voice of Benjamin. This novel is a fast-paced story resonating with rich characters and mythic elements that come to us as folklore that mustn't be doubted.'

-- Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version
''Preacher Dob said, Vengeance belongs to the Lord, Samantha. She said, Only if he can beat me to it.' This told me everything I needed to know about Samantha Shreve, a character who knocked my socks off from her first appearance on the page. This book is the stuff of legends, tales told for a hundred years around Texas campfires. Written in a form that is historically accurate and yet feels painstakingly intimate, The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I've read before.' -- Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird
'When I began to read this book its unique voice appealed to me immediately. Elizabeth Crook has written a beautiful novel with wonderful characters.' -- Robert Duvall
'A small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and beautifully rendered.' -- S. C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon
'The Which Way Tree is one part Track of the Cat, one part True Grit, and one part Tom Sawyer, a ruthless pedigree for a novel that displays human nature in its most beautiful form - a marvel.' -- Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of The Western Star
'Elizabeth Crook has created a book of marvels. Its comedy is steeped in the hardscrabble tragedies of a wilder old America. You will even catch an echo of Twain's wit in the picaresque narration.' -- Luis Alberto Urrea, author of the US national bestseller The Hummingbird's Daughter
'Not since True Grit have I read a novel as charming, exciting, suspenseful, and pitch-perfect as The Which Way Tree. Elizabeth Crook's new book is winning from first page to last.' -- Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

'This is a story of unremitting deprivation allayed by unexpected kindness, with a dangerous chase motivated by love and suffused with humanity.'

* Booklist *

'[A] must-read for fans of Joe Lansdale's Western adventures and Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers. Readers new to the Western genre will be hooked if they start with this compelling novel.' STARRED REVIEW * Emily Hamstra, Library Journal *
'Poignant and plainspoken ... Crook crafts Benjamin's narration beautifully, finding a winning balance between naivete and wisdom, thoughtfulness and grit. * Publisher's Weekly *

'The Which Way Tree is a commendable and very readable addition to the tale-spinning tradition and its beautiful use of language.'

-- Paulette Jiles * The Scotsman *

'How Crook managed to channel the voice of a 17-year-old boy in 1860s Texas so convincingly I can't say, but Ben is both persuasive and captivating, a fully realized character that you gladly follow across the Lone Star State ... In this remarkable novel, she's given us something wild to wonder at, and to be moved by.'

* Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle *

'[A]s this deceptively simple novel progresses, it becomes clear that Crook is interested in more than a classic western pursuit narrative. Characters who initially appear as cliches - the noble Mexican, the earnest preacher - are revealed to have unexpected motives and backstories. Quests for revenge or profit or just plain Christian paternalism turn out to be flawed attempts at redemption and human connection ... Crook's slim, intimate novel illustrates how, at their best, historical westerns provide insight into human nature tested by the sort of extreme conditions that rarely crop up in contemporary American settings.'

* Mary Helen Specht, The Texas Monthly *

'Recalls Cormac McCarthy's horseback meandering and keen eye for terrain and flora in The Crossing. There are also obvious echoes of True Grit ... An entertaining picture of harsh, stark life in the Old West.'

* Kirkus Reviews *

'In the tradition of Charles Portis's classic True Grit, Elizabeth Crook's heart-pounding adventure, The Which Way Tree, features a tough-as-nails orphan in pursuit of frontier justice. But 12-year-old Sam, our indefatigable Texan heroine, is the daughter of a former slave, and the murderer she's hunting isn't a double-crossing man but a demonic panther that killed her mother. Joined by a loquacious Tejano outlaw, a preacher and his scruffy hound, and 14-year-old Benjamin, who does double duty as her brother and our keen-eyed narrator, Sam sets out for revenge. Of course, as in all great cat-and-mouse thrillers, while Sam hunts her quarry, she herself is being stalked-in this case by Clarence Hanlin, or the Sesesh, a highway-robbing Confederate who's had it out for her since she shot off one of his fingers. Like Hanlin, you'll follow Sam to the ends of the earth.'

* Natalie Beach, O Magazine *

'There's a bit of Ahab in [Samantha] ... and a lot of Mattie Ross, the cussedly obstinate heroine of Charles Portis's True Grit. Her monomania motors this ripping adventure through the canyons and arroyos of the Texas-Mexico border ... [and] leads the makeshift hunters through a gauntlet of disasters to the novel's show-stopping finale.' * Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal *

'A gripping page-turner, readers will want to devour The Which Way Tree in one sitting.'

* Sadie Trombetta, Bustle *

'The Which Way Tree [is] the ultimate hunting tale wrapped in rich Western lore written by the multi-award-winning Elizabeth Crook. Her wry story is told in a Twain-esque, easy-flowing vernacular that is a joy to read. Even better is Ms. Crook's amazing Samantha, who won't let hunger, exhaustion, or a murderous Confederate renegade slow her quest for vengeance ... [The] tale is fast-paced and uniquely entertaining, so I had trouble slowing down enough to savour The Which Way Tree.'

* Jo Ann Butler, Historical Novels Review *

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