The Which Way Tree

The Which Way Tree

“A ripping adventure [with] a show-stopping finale.”–Wall Street Journal

“The stuff of legends.”–Attica Locke

“Powerful, sly, and often charming.”–Daniel Woodrell

The poignant odyssey of a tenacious young girl who braves the dangers of the Texas frontier to avenge her mother’s death


Early one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter’s life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred.

Narrated in Benjamin’s beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha’s unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother’s death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle.

In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl’s revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin’s storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love that carries a sister and brother through a perilous adventure with all the dimensions of a legend.
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Genre: Fiction / Fiction / Westerns

On Sale: February 6th 2018

Price: $25.98

Page Count: 8

ISBN-13: 9781478944744

Meet The Author: Elizabeth Crook

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

What's Inside

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Praise

"An absorbing coming-of-age novel...Benjamin is a keen observer and reliable narrator...These adventure tales, if told well, are plenty riveting and enduring. The Which Way Tree is told well."—Rod Davis, Texas Observer
"Crook manages in The Which Way Tree the striking feat of not only capturing the voice of a 19th century youth as honestly and compellingly as Mark Twain but also having her Texas Huck recount a Moby Dick-like pursuit across Texas in which the White Whale is a malevolent mountain lion and its Ahab is a girl it mauled while killing her mother."—Austin Chronicle
"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...you'll follow Sam to the ends of the earth."
Natalie Beach, O Magazine
"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."—Texas Monthly
"Exuberant . . . Benjamin's voice has echoes of Huckleberry Finn, while his sister's pursuit of the deadly cat recalls True Grit."—Tom Beer, Newsday
"This riveting Western has a bit of True Grit feel."—CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun
"The Which Way Tree is adventurous, suspenseful, and charming...you're going to want to read this one."—Elizabeth Entenman, HelloGiggles
"The Which Way Tree is unlike anything I've read before...an enthralling adventure, a Texas fairy tale in the truest sense of that term."—Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
"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
"Elizabeth Crook has invented a brilliant way of seeing the old Texas frontier: at very close range, through the eyes of a wise-beyond-his-years seventeen-year-old boy and the sister whose defiant quest he joins. The result is a small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and beautifully rendered."—S. C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon
" '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
"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, a Walt Longmire mystery
"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
"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 national bestseller The Hummingbird's Daughter
"Not since True Grit have I read a novel this charming, exciting, suspenseful, and pitch-perfect. The Which Way Tree is winning from first page to last."—Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
"Recalls Cormac McCarthy's horseback meandering and keen eye for terrain and flora in The Crossing. There are also obvious echoes of True Grit, though Sam is even more fiercely single-minded than Mattie . . . An entertaining picture of harsh, stark life in the Old West."—Kirkus Reviews
"Poignant and plainspoken...Crook crafts Benjamin's narratoin beautifully, finding a winning balance between naivete and wisdom, thoughtfulness and grit."—Publishers Weekly
"This is a story of unremitting deprivation allayed by unexpected kindness, with a dangerous chase motivated by love and suffused with humanity."—Michele Leber, Booklist
While hunting near his Texas home at the end of the Civil War, Benjamin Shreve witnesses a Confederate soldier,
Clarence Hanlin, picking the pockets of eight hanged men. The 17-year-old orphan is called to court to testify about what he saw. In letters to the judge, Benjamin tells the epic tale of the panther that killed his stepmother and disfigured his
stepsister, Samantha. Clarence plays a bizarre role in the tale, helping and hindering Samantha's Ahab-like quest for
vengeance against the panther. Benjamin, frank and quick-witted, tells a story that is absorbing and satisfying. He
doesn't dwell on his hardships but focuses on Samantha's single-minded pursuit of the panther and the cold-blooded
soldier who ended up in the middle of it all. VERDICT: Spur-Award-winning Crook's (The Night Journal; Monday, Monday) fifth novel will be 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.
Emily Hamstra, Library Journal