3 stars out of 5. I don’t have many words for this book other than strange and different. It becomes clear right away that this book is about a very strict, cult like, religious family. I was immediately intrigued because I sometimes hear about strict religious people who really have gone too far in what they are practicing, but I haven’t read many books where that topic is the main focus. I was appalled and slightly disturbed at the things that happened with this family and what they practiced. However, it did make you understand that this was a situation to get out of and it was believable that this probably does happen to others in real life. I enjoyed the growth of the main character as she navigated what was real and what had been taught to her by her father, but I lacked a connection or any vast amount of emotions to any of the characters . I also found the ending abrupt and a little disappointing. There were still many questions left unanswered which is slightly annoying since this is a standalone book. I wouldn’t consider this a mystery or thriller at all, but it has its moments where I was left wondering just how will the characters make it out of their fathers religious life, and will they even want too? Finding out what happens to them ultimately is what kept me going, but I do wish there had been more answers and more emotional connections to the characters.
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.
I thought that the way the female lead, Castley, was feeling through out the book was pretty believable for what she was going through. I could understand when she would question what her father had taught her against what others said and what her head was telling her. Its hard to know what is right, what is god, what is just life, when you have been brainwashed your whole life by the person you’re supposed to look up too. As much as I hated Castley’s father, I found myself really wanting to know more about him. Through out the book there were hints at his past but what really upset me is that we never learned why or how he became this crazy preacher practicing a very strict religion. I was also annoyed by what happened with George Gray. I won’t mention any spoilers but I felt how he was written through out the whole book did not add up to how he acted at the end and it could have been written a little better. Especially since I liked George. The characters in this book really lacked any emotional connection, I didn’t put the book down after I was finished and linger on any one character like I normally do. The idea and the story for this book is really great I just wish maybe it had been a little longer and more detailed and involved to make connections and to really invest the reader in the story even more.
Aside from its set backs though, this book was different than many of the books I’ve read lately. That’s one thing I really did like about this book, I felt like I wasn’t reading the exact same story again. I thought this was a good book, not really good or great, but good. It was different and kept me intrigued. It also left me with unanswered questions and no real connections, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book overall.