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.
Author: Eliza Wass
Title: In The Dark In The Woods (UK-AUS) The Cresswell Plot (US)
Release date: 7th June 2016
Publisher: Quercus, Disney Hyperion
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of In the Dark in the Woods from Hachette Australia!
“I carved my first star when I was six, so by the time I was sixteen there were stars everywhere in the woods. Some of them I don’t remember carving. Sometimes I wondered if someone else had – Hannan oe Delvive or Caspar of Mortimer or Jerusalem. Or my other brother, the one who died. But I think I knew it was just me. I think I knew I was the only one carving stars.”
The plot line for this book really interested me, it was quite different from anything I have ever read. Castley, the main character, lives with her 5 other brothers and sisters, Hannan, Delvive, Caspar, Mortimer and Jerusalem, her father and her very sick mother. Their father is highly religious and believes that they are made for better things and has paired brothers and sisters together to marry so they can be together in heaven. Their father is highly abusive if they do anything he doesn’t want them to do (wear clothes from this century, if they don’t partake in group prays, if they talk to the other sex at school…) If they do something he really doesn’t like, he locks them in a cave which he has called ‘God’s chambers’ for up to days on end so they can reflect on what they have done. Oh and they live in a cabin in the woods. So if having to marry your brother/sister, having strict rules to follow, being not allowed to talk to anyone outside of the family and living in a cabin in the woods doesn’t scream ‘something strange is going on here’ I don’t know what will.
Castley just wants to live a normal life and make her own choices. She wants to kiss boys (not her brother, ew) and wear jean shorts like normal 17 year old girls. When she is partnered with a boy in her drama class Castley realises this might be her chance at a normal life. George Gray is everything Castley likes, funny, carefree and normal. The more time she spends with him, the more she realises how unfair her life is. But when when the time comes when she really needs George to be there, he turns out to be like everyone else. Meanwhile her home life is quickly going into a downhill spiral. Her father keeps being cryptic and saying that ‘they have been on Earth too long and that soon God will be calling them home’ which is totally and utterly terrifying. I didn’t know what to think from here like who says stuff like that? Their father is 100% insane. Castley knows that she is quickly running out of time and she has to find a way to save her brothers and sisters, but how can they be saved if they don’t want to be?
There was a suspense throughout the whole book which had me rapidly flipping pages to find out the answers. From about the middle of the book when their father says “God will soon be calling us home” you know something huge and terrifying is going to happen. Everyone knows that the Cresswell family has secrets and that something strange is going on but no one does anything to stop it. Not even the authorities! Yeah they found the family a couple years early and forced the kids to go to school, but its so obvious they don’t get treated right and no one steps in which really bugged me. The characters in this book are all so different and interesting. All of the children are dealing with things that go against what their father believes, but only Castley thinks that there is something strange about their father and wants to be free. They have all be brainwashed thinking that everything that happens is ‘God’s will’ and they even turn on Castley saying that she is under the influence of Satan when she confides in them with her doubts about the life they are being force to live!
The ending of this book happened the way I thought it would, although I would have enjoyed a bit more. I feel like it ended too quickly. In the Dark in the Woods was a terrifying, disturbing and yet addicting story that I couldn’t put down until I finished.
In the Dark in the Woods was such a haunting read and the writing was amazing! Praise to the author Eliza Wass for writing something so different and something people would rather turn their backs on in real life.
“I found comfort in dram, in playing pretend. It was the only time and place I didn’t feel afraid because I could truly imagine I was someone else.”
“One person tells a story about themselves and then the other person does the same thing, and neither of themselves realise their not talking to each other. They’re just talking to themselves out loud.”
“I used to think you were meant to lean something from everything, that life was one great big lesson, but I don’t think that’s true anymore.”
“But that’s what life is like, it blind you. It makes you think you’ll never escape. But you will. You will if you keep fighting, even if sometimes you don’t know what your fighting for.”