You never want to trip and fall into the Otherworld. Blaine found out many years ago that the town of Castle Santos sits close to another world beyond the veil. He slipped, once, but that was enough to change his life.
A stranger arrives on the eve of the Witching Hour and seeks to steal Blaine back to the Otherworld. But he must stall long enough to put a plan into motion to escape their clutches forever. Can Blaine weave a childhood tale to enthrall his would-be captor and escape final judgment?
THE PICKING TREE by Zachery Miller is a thrilling mix of horror, fantasy and folklore. Before I get into this review, I recommend reading The Shopkeep first, just so you can appreciate some of the details of this novella.
The story is told mostly through one long flashback. Young Blaine is a Stephen King fan, and loans his dad's copy of IT to a girl he likes. Little moments like this offer a lot of insight into Blaine's personality and his way of thinking (during his childhood), which really sets the mood. Much like the the kids in King's book, Blaine is terrorised by two psychotic bullies, and one of his escapes leads him into a frightening landscape. He soons finds himself moving back and forth between worlds.
As an adult, Blaine has found a way to avoid the Otherworld, and he has become a writer. However, he's suffered years of PTSD and he comes face to face with the source of his nightmares. He uses what he learned as child and his storytelling skills for one final confrontation. The ending had me completely freaking out, right up to the very last sentence.
I think this story is good enough to entertain both old and young horror fans, ages 14 and up.