The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it's like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they're still the freaks they've always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley's world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father's grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father's lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.
It's no secret that I have a thing for reads about teens dealing with strict religious families or that become involved with cults. Having spent my teens in a situation of that nature there's something about reading novels where young women find their way out of those circumstances is a balm on an old scar.
It took me a while to get around to picking THE CRESSWELL PLOT up because I wasn't quite sure it was going to be in the vein of what I look for. Fortunately, the release of the paperback came at a time when I was very much in the mood for a read as dark and hopeful as this one. While I would call it a predictable story with no surprises, Wass is a great storyteller and manages to make it an enjoyable page-turner in spite of it's lack of novelty. Castley is complex and torn between contrasting loyalties. I admired her strength in the face of so much adversity from both within her home and the town beyond.
What held me back from quite loving it was the unresolved bits left at the end of the story. There were a couple of very key elements that weren't explained that I felt were essential to mesh the whole plot together smoothly. Not deal breaker, but a bit disappointing. If you've enjoyed novels like The Book of Ivy, The May Queen Murders, or Devoted, you're sure to find this a compelling and worthwhile read. I much recommend it. (4 stars)
Note: Complimentary copy received for reviewing purposes via publisher.
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Eliza Wass is an author, journalist and the wife of the late musician Alan Wass. Her debut novel, The Cresswell Plot, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim by Disney-Hyperion. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, Grazia, NME, Shortlist and THE FALL.
Her second book with Disney-Hyperion, The Life and Death Parade, will be published in June 2018.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE CRESSWELL PLOT Paperback, US Only.
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