Book Review: Percival Everett ~ The Trees (2022)


The 1955 depraved murder of Emmett Till, aged 14, by racists in Mississippi was shocking but not freakishly so.1 What was unique was his mother allowing mourners to see his mutilated body in an open casket. The outrage became international and the perpetrators were arrested and tried. They’d blatantly committed the crime but an all-white jury found them not guilty. Subsequently both admitted the crime and the woman who’d provoked the crime also recanted. The Till murder was an important catalyst for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.


This novel builds on the Till case in a remarkable way.

Everett has, I believe invented a new genre. Repurposing the Victorian Gothic novel he has written a story, which is 21st century Gothic. The immediate relatives of the Till murderers are murdered by black zombies. In the same way Till was murdered. The racist and incompetent police are redneck hillbillies. The revenge murders were unique in that the perpetrators were already dead. Two senior detectives were brought in to solve the case. Both were black.

The blending of horror, satire and magic is chilling. One of the principal characters is 105-year-old Mama Z who’s devoted her life to cataloguing every American lynching victim – 6,000!

Mama Z unleashes massive retribution for the genocide, right across the USA, with ghouls murdering racist murderers. Alternatively, when actual perpetrators of lynching are dead their descendants are murdered in lieu.

Sounds crazed? It is wonderfully well written and effective. Give it a chance.


1 emmett till – Search ( There is a film recently released Till (film) – Wikipedia

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