Goodreads Rating: 3.48 Stars
Expected Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Get a copy here!
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.
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Quick Reasons: OHMAHGOSH, ohmahgosh, this book is insanely intense; I took a huge step out of my comfort zone for this read—and am so glad I did!; lots of plot twists and moments that caught me off-guard; lots of pretty, “makes you think” moments; the prose is beautiful and well-done; the characters are vibrant and unique; the plot is action-packed and full of mystery from the beginning; THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!
Huge thanks go out to Eliza Wass, Disney-Hyperion Publishing, and Netgalley for access to the eARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my opinions or review of this book.
I have to start this review by stating the (maybe) obvious: I took a large step out of my comfort zone for this book, and I am so so glad that I did!
The writing, first and foremost, is absolutely gorgeous. Poetic, with moments of wise insight scattered throughout—moments that reach into a reader’s heart and tug at the most secret, deepest parts of them, the parts they don’t even realize they have. More than that, though, is how beautifully Eliza Wass layered the pieces of this story. The plot is action-packed from the get-go, building on the drama and the mystery until readers feel like they’re bound to either blow up the book or blow up themselves. The frustration—to KNOW, to understand, to see behind the veil—is very real for this read.
This is a much more mature read than I was expecting, going in. I’m not sure why exactly, but I was under the impression, at the beginning of this journey, that Castley was MUCH younger than she actually is. It wasn’t until she explicitly stated her age that I realized this book was determined to surprise me—in more than one way! I think the biggest reason behind this, though, is the way she acts and thinks during the first few pages. She comes off much more innocent, much more “pure,” than an almost-17 year old. Of course, I’m sure part of this is her father—and the way they’ve all been raised.
The ending sort of caught me by surprise. I felt as if I blinked and missed out on the “closure.” It leaves off on sort of a weird note, too—brought back full-circle, but sort of rushed through. I expected the characters to have scars, to be stiff and awkward, to not be healed. After the trauma of… well, their entire lives, I expected the ending to be harsher. Instead, it felt formal and disconnected—as if the author wasn’t quite sure, herself, what the future held for the characters, and therefore chose to skip over any trauma they might otherwise show. It was weird, and is the only part of this read that sits wrong with me. I guess I was expecting more pain from them, in the end, and was disappointed not to get it. Which sounds a bit off-kilter and insane of me, thinking about it now.
On that note, however, I have some warnings for potential future readers: there IS abuse. There is bullying (though not much?), there is violence, there is murder. There is a lot of religion at play throughout, both actual and personal; there is talk of dying or committing suicide to “get to God.” If any of this is a trigger for you, please be careful if you decide to go into this book.
Regardless, this is a breath-taking, life-changing, thought-altering read. The world will be just a bit more shady, just a smidge more dangerous, from here out for me. I definitely recommend this to those interested in obsessive religions, dark contemporary novels, and flawed characters who find their spunk—and themselves—during the journey. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring from Eliza Wass. She just leaped to the top of my “to watch out for” list!