The Cresswell Plot
author : eliza wass
pages : [hardcover] 272
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.
Although I dove right into The Cresswell Plot and it kept me interested until the very end, I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing some spark that would have made me love it.
This book was very predictable. The plot revolves around a cult-ish family called the Cresswells, who live in the woods next to a small town who doesn’t seem to care whether or not they’d all drop off of the face of the earth. The patriarch of the family believes they’re all too good for the world, that they’re the only ones going to heaven, and that he’s a chosen prophet of God. All of the basic cult-ish elements are here, including a home environment of fear and abuse. Castella and her fellow siblings have only been attending public school for a few years, after they failed their homeschooling tests. This is basically the only contact they receive from the world outside of the woods and their father. Unfortunately most of the town is pretty hostile toward them because they consider all of the Cresswells freaks.
The plot seemed to meander toward the final, big scene which I’d known was coming from the very start. Little subplots would start up–small rebellions by the children, pushing the boundaries of their world–and seem to go nowhere. It was difficult to follow Castella’s narration at times, but I think some of that stemmed from the unhealthy mentality she had from her childhood and ongoing abuse. It was interesting to see how she and the rest of the family could make anything her father did seem rational, because that was how he’d taught his children. And, of course, there was the threat that if she disobeyed, it was really God that she was disobeying, and she’d be barred from heaven like the rest of the world. That’s a pretty heavy threat.
Unfortunately, I feel like even though the Cresswell household was pretty well fleshed out, none of the townspeople were very believable to me. They all seemed like empty stereotypes, there just to make Castella feel or act a certain way at parts of the book. None really felt like their own person.
Overall, I was just really disappointed with The Cresswell Plot. I feel like it had the chance to really be something interesting and unique, but the flat characters and predictable plot bored me.