Pine – Moody and Unsettling in the Highlands

Pine is unsettling.


  • Want a moody read
  • Are in the mood for feelings of being closed in a small town
  • Want hints of the supernatural

TitlePine | Author: Francine ToonRating: 3/5

An enigmatically dark read, Pine follows a young Lauren, living with her father in a small town in the Highlands. Her father, Niall, is a single parent after Lauren’s mother goes missing – presumed dead, and some, presume she was murdered by her husband.

Then, when local teen Ann-Marie goes missing, all fingers point to Niall. A drunk, whose wife mysteriously disappeared, he’s also as stuck as Lauren is in their community.

Pine is unsettling. I feel strangled and claustrophobic in this small, island town, with the dilapidated houses, coarse people, and whispers behind closed doors. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a modern rural gothic, with a sense of foreboding doom and walls that close in around you, rather than keep you safe.

I still can’t figure out if there was really a ghost or not in the story. There’s a “woman in white” who visits Niall and Lauren, and who leaves Lauren an old ring of her mother’s. It’s chilling that, even coming to the end of the book, I still don’t know what’s natural or supernatural. Was the woman in white a ghost, or was she a deranged woman who Niall knew about but didn’t want to frighten Lauren with?

I still don’t know.

But that’s not a bad thing. It adds to the chilling and sinister feel that pervades the book, and nods to the childhood innocence and confusion Lauren is experiencing.

And considering this is a debut novel, it’s impressive how suffocated I felt in this small town.

3 thoughts on “Pine – Moody and Unsettling in the Highlands

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