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for A Tree With Gnarled Roots

7/1 c1 8Mislav
Very creepy and intense story. Great build-up and attention to details. The opening reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe's "Morella", as well as H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shunned House". Nice touch with supernatural activity starting a minute after midnight. The part where Elena wanders around the house at night after hearing strange noises was especially creepy and intense. I especially liked this description: "When Elena slammed the cupboard door in the kitchen pantry, someone spoke to her, a voice loudly jarring the silence of her own desperation and frantic movements." Chilling how she didn't realize something was wrong until she saw the painting on the wall. I liked the way you described that: "Quite, oddly, then, her attention was pulled away by the little boy who had been building with playing cards on the floor. He was standing now against the wall, and his bright blue eyes were locked with hers from across the room. He was looking at her solemnly, and she found herself rapt in whatever he had to tell her. Slowly, her eyes following his every movement, the boy pointed up above his head, to the mantle above the fireplace. Elena looked over to the fire, and at the portrait hanging there, and she froze in her seat, a chill washing over her.

Maxwell Senior was speaking, though Elena had not been listening. She looked very quickly back and forth between him and the painting the boy was pointing out to her, her eyes darting wildly, as she came to the conclusion that the man in front of her and the man in the portrait- which had been in the house much longer than she had been alive- were one and the same.

She hurriedly looked back to the boy, but he was back on the floor, beginning his castle once again. "Who is that child?" she asked urgently, interrupting what Maxwell Senior was saying.

"Toby, Junior's boy. Terribly tragic what happened to him," Maxwell Senior sighed.

"...Is he dead?" Elena finally asked. He let out a loud guffaw, bringing the attention of the room briefly back to him.

"Not as long as he lives here, he isn't!""

I definitely didn't expect the twist where ut turns out that Elena has been dead since the first night at the house. It makes sense: that is how she was able to see, hear and communicate with the ghosts. And why she wasn't terrified of ghosts at first; a part of her knew she was like them. Her horror and desperation at the end were very well written. How horrifying to think she will be stuck there forever. Chilling last two lines: ""You can't keep me here!" she yelled, for the benefit of the ghosts, or her parents, or Dr. Gabriel, or maybe for herself. But the words were a lie." Poor Elena. Keep up the great work. I will definitely read your other stories.

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