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book cover of The Alder Tree

The Alder Tree

(1982)
A novel by

 
 
The alder tree was dead and dangerous, it had to go. Michael enjoyed the tree-chopping. The wood, Wormwood, seemed full of subtle and mysterious life that day, and besides there was cousin Francine, who made everything she did attractive. Then, Mr. Niblock from next door came interfering. Michael was furious and stormed off to sulk in the wood. It was there that his father found him, and told him a secret. It had been kept from him, but now he must know. His father was very ill, perhaps dying.
After that things started to happen as if in the kind of nightmare where everything seems almost normal, but somehow horrible. Hints and suggestions on all sides forced Michael to believe that something very strange had escaped from under the roots of the alder tree when it came down. When he went into Wormwood all he found was the house of the old Laidly family, hidden in the thicket, and a smiling invalid, attended by a harmless old manservant. But then the pets began to disappear, and the burglaries began. What was that toothy little manservant doing, creeping around in the dusk with a wriggling sack? 'An invalid must have fresh wholesome food', he said. Michael found himself in a very difficult position, because he could not forget what the funny Chinese woman, Mrs. Lee, had said about a tonic called 'Dragon's Blood'. She claimed that Dragon's Blood would cure anything.
Everything was bound up with the picture on Francine's wall, of the plate-armoured hero and his writhing, glittering enemy. Michael was badly wrong to think he could strike a bargain with such an adversary. He was caught in the shining coils. His 'business arrangement' with smiling Mr. Laidly was going to cost him far more than he imagined.

    

Used availability for Ann Halam's The Alder Tree

Hardback Editions

February 1982 : UK Hardback
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Title: Alder Tree
Author(s): Ann Halam
ISBN: 0-04-823205-X / 978-0-04-823205-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA