A child makes it her life's mission to hunt down the panther that killed her mother and scarred her for life, enlisting her reluctant older half brother, Benjamin, in the quest. The entire narrative is told in a series of letters to a frontier judge in which Benjamin also recounts his witnessing of the aftermaths of a brutal mass hanging. This is a rousing adventure story in the tradition of True Grit, News of the World, and even a smidgen of Moby Dick.
— Alden Graves
The poignant odyssey of a tenacious young girl who braves the dangers of the Texas frontier to avenge her mother's death
"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
"A small-scale masterwork, richly detailed and beautifully rendered." --S. C. Gwynne, New York Times
bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon
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.