Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 7, 2016
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.
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.
This book was a hard one to read. At first it seemed as though it started in the middle, like I had missed something – but I persevered, and by 30 pages in I was hooked. I’ve always been fairly interested by people and lifestyles on the fringes of society – and this is where we meet Castella Creswell, her equally unique named siblings, her mentally absent mother, and domineering father.
There is an overall ominous feeling to the narrative that I really enjoyed. Castella is a difficult narrator to relate to. She can be a little too matter of fact at times when relating the horrific realities of her day to day existence. Though I was oddly sucked into this book, I felt like I was always waiting for something to happen. At the end, when the twist is revealed, I was not surprised. The novel was dark and fairly twisted, which is different from a lot of my usual YA reads. The conclusion felt rather rushed, but I feel that may just be the experience of a first time author. The creepy mood, and atmospheric narrative this book elicits is enough for me to recommend this debut novel. I’m interested in reading more from this author in the future. I will end on this note, this book contains a lost of potential triggers: from physical abuse to incest. For those who persevere you will be rewarded with a very unique read.
“I wanted to say something, but I didn’t, for the same reason I always kept quiet: because I could never be sure of what they thought, not any of my brothers and sisters.”
“The one who wanted to tear us apart, to separate us. Because he was jealous, Father said, jealous because God loved us more. Jealous because we were a perfect, beautiful family and God loved us best. Even if he had a funny way of showing it sometimes.”
“I started to question things, maybe. I did things I knew were wrong, but told myself they were right.”
“But that’s what life is like; it blinds you. It makes you think you’ll never escape. But you will. You will keep fighting, even if sometimes you don’t know what you’re fighting for.”