The Lion Trees -- Part I: Unraveling
Winner of 16 International Book Awards!
Interested in buying rights? Click here to make an offer

Rights Contact Login For More Details

More About This Title The Lion Trees -- Part I: Unraveling



What if survival required you to unlearn who you are? How far would you fall to save yourself? Sometimes happiness is a long way down.

The Lion Trees is the story of a family on the brink, at war with the demons of personal identity. As the Bush Administration is busy invading Iraq, and as Hurricane Katrina is busy laying waste to New Orleans, the Johns family is busy unraveling in Columbus, Ohio.

The eldest son, David, stands wrongly accused of abducting a teenage girl. The father, Hollis, risks his forty-year marriage chasing a seductive con artist. The mother, Susan, abandons her family role to lead an anti-war protest movement. The estranged daughter, Tilly, a rising Hollywood star, wrestles with fame, scandal and self-destructive love as she pursues the movie role of a lifetime. Each of the Johns find themselves at risk of losing everything that defines them.

The Lion Trees defies easy characterization. Equal parts drama and humor, it incorporates a unique blend of suspense, social satire, courtroom drama, romantic pot-boiler, comedic misadventure, and human-scale science fiction. It entertains through compelling, relatable characters, contending with unusually challenging circumstances in highly diverse settings.


DAVID: Early 30s, David Johns is a public high school history teacher with a yen for pot he can’t afford and an ex-girlfriend out of his league. Smart and conscientious, David is in the grips of an old pattern: good intentions, followed by poor judgment, followed by disaster, followed by wrongful accusations of heinous misconduct. David has cemented his self-concept as a fuck-up savant and a perpetual disappointment to his father, Hollis.

HOLLIS: Early 60’s, Hollis Johns is a legend in his own mind. A banker forced into retirement, Hollis believes himself infallible, incorruptible and unappreciated. But when he agrees to help the daughter of a friend, Hollis finds himself sexually spellbound by a woman half his age. From the depths of enthrallment, Hollis fails to see that the young woman is a con artist, that she has been blackmailing his friend for years, and that they are both conspiring to manipulate Hollis for financial gain.

SUSAN: Late 50’s, Susan Johns was once a charismatic, free-spirited, politically-minded child of the Sixties attending Kent State University. Having helped to organize the 1970 Kent State rally that that ended in a bloody massacre, Susan’s guilt drove her away from political activism and into the arms of domesticity. Now, after nearly forty years of marriage and motherhood, Susan finds her old self reawakening to the drumbeats of a different war -- the war in Iraq -- and the calls of a lesbian admirer to set family aside and to once again lead thousands of others in protest.

TILLY: Mid-20s, Tilly Johns is the black sheep of the family, a rising Hollywood actress desperate to star in a science fiction film adapted from a story called 'The Lion Tree.' Amid storms of fame and scandal, Tilly is caught in an unwinnable triangular conflict. The director is determined to sexually possess her while the author-consultant is determined to keep Tilly’s salacious life from soiling his beloved characters. Complicating everything is Tilly’s high-flying romance with an action movie co-star, bringing to her doorstep a designer drug ring investigation, a revenge porn scandal, and tragedy. As Tilly fights for the movie role of her life, her life rapidly disintegrates.

Owen Thomas' rollicking debut novel is the winner of 16 international book awards, including: the 2015 Amazon Kindle Book Award for Literary Fiction, the 2015 Global eBook Award for New Adult Fiction, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Award, the 2015 'Book of The Year' for, Finalist for the 2015 First Horizon Book Award, and placements at the London Book Festival, the New York Book Festival, the Amsterdam Book Festival, and the Beverly Hills International Book Awards.

Highly addictive, spectacular, and mind blowing... Thomas is a wizard of fiction. -- U.S. Review of Books
A sweeping literary saga in the traditional 'Dr. Zhivago', 'Gone with the Wind', and 'The Thorn Birds', this book has it all... original and stirring... --The Eric Hoffer Book Award

[A] cerebral page turner...a powerful and promising debut.--Kirkus Reviews

Winner of 16 International Book Awards, including the Kindle Book Award, the Global eBook Award, The Eric Hoffer Book Award, the London Book Festival, the New York Book Festival, the Amsterdam Book Festival, the Beverly Hills International Book Awards and most recently a finalist in the 2020 Book Excellence Awards.


Owen Thomas is a life-long Alaskan and avid reader. He has written three novels: "The Lion Trees" (which has garnered over sixteen international book awards, including the Amazon Kindle Book Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the Book and Author Book of the Year, the Beverly Hills International Book Award and, most recently, a finalist in the 2020 Book Excellence Awards); "Signs of Passing" (a book of interconnected short stories, and winner of fourteen book awards, including the 2014 Pacific Book Awards for Short Fiction, also named one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2015 by Shelf Unbound Magazine); and "Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti." Owen maintains an active fiction and photography blog on Facebook, Tumblr and on his author website at


Praise for The Lion Trees

“[A] cerebral page turner… a powerful and promising debut.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Owen Thomas’ Lion Trees… can be anointed any number of superlatives to showcase its brilliance; highly addictive, spectacular, and mind blowing will have to suffice. Thomas is a wizard of fiction, and his novel a captivating gem that engulfs the reader from the beginning.” – US Review of Books

“A sweeping literary saga in the tradition of ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘Gone with the Wind’, and ‘The Thorn Birds’, this book has it all …original and stirring… By turns exhilarating and exhausting, Thomas creates compelling, rich characters. The ending is just as satisfying as the beginning.” – The Eric Hoffer Book Award

“Every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a new voice comes along and knocks your socks off. Owen Thomas owns that voice.” – The Anchorage Press

“In its structure and nature, [The Lion Trees] reminds me above all of John Updike’s wonderful Harry Rabbit novels and their ability to summarize the essence of change in American society across a decade at a time.” – Book Ideas

“[A] powerful, gripping and realistic story. Once, a few decades ago, many authors would set out to write “The Great American Novel,” hoping to tap into whatever it is which makes the US and its people so unique and hopeful, particularly at a set point in time.… These days it doesn’t seem like anyone tries to write those kind of seminal novels anymore… until now. This is a wonderful, well thought out, well written tale, worth every minute, every hour, and every day that you spend in it. … The Lion Trees does what so very few great novels can: it will take a lot out of you, but leave you with much more than you had when you began.” – Pacific Book Review

“[The Lion Trees] reminds me of the reason I fell in love with reading in the first place and what a magical world the art of storytelling is…. [A]n astounding read… I truly believe this is the best story that I’ve read this year, actually in a long time. This is what fiction and novels were initially created to be. It’s not only beautifully crafted, but it becomes a part of you.” – Literary Litter

“If there is only one book that you are going to read this year, make it The Lion Trees.” –

“[The Lion Trees] is the sort of novel which a light fiction reader might put down after the first dozen pages, and I’m here to implore that you don’t. Once you get used to the time-hopping, perspective-switching style of Owen Thomas’ deep and beautiful prose, the story of the Johns family flutters like a paper bag in the breeze that you can’t stop watching. Unpredictable, philosophical and deeply, intrinsically human, The Lion Trees explores a lengthy gamut of powerful emotional depths, asking important questions about life which we readers, like the Johns family, so often forget to stop and ponder. A superb and high quality literary drama.” – Readers’ Favorites Reviews