Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed — and so is he. It’s not just any tree. It’s the Spirit Tree, the ancient beech the high school football team carves to commemorate the home opener. And every year they lose.
But the curse is no game, and it gets worse. Businesses fail. Trees topple like dominos. Sinkholes open up in the streets, swallowing cars and buildings. Even people begin to fade, drained of life.
Martin teams up with know-it-all soccer star Hannah Vaughan. Together they must heal the tree, or be stuck in Deadwood Park at the mercy of the psycho who cursed it.
I could lie and tell you that I picked this book to review just to read to my son at bedtime, but I totally wanted to read it for myself. Although we both enjoyed it, there were parts of it that were a little scary for him. It's a story that's more for readers who are better able to separate fiction from reality.
As a gamer, I was quickly drawn into the story. The story opens with Martin, stuck living with one of his relatives because his mom has been deployed to Afghanistan, wishing he could be online playing a RPG with his friends. He's not even allowed to play so he, instead, pretends to be his character from the game.
Toward the beginning you discover that the spirit tree, called that because the jocks carve their school spirit into it every year, is actually magical. It communicates with Martin and another kid his age, Hannah, telling them there's a curse and they need to break it to heal the town.
The use of magic mixed with technology was interesting, as the spirit tree used text messages to communicate with the children. I also enjoyed when the focus of the story went to the tree, telling part of the story from it's perspective.
I highly recommend this book, and it's a wonderful read for middle graders.