Genre: Thriller, realistic fiction, YA
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Part of me wants to give it four stars, but most of me wants to give it three stars.
The book was generally well written, it was dark, disturbing, incestuous, and grew darker and more disturbing with every page. But I also think it did not do a believable job of dealing with how incredibly messed up the Creswell siblings would be if they really grew up the way they did. There were moments when I felt this family and their horrific story were done justice, but Castley’s revelation and sudden change of heart at the end were too fast and furious.
Characters were rushed. There were many characters who probably could have been combined (there were too many siblings who were not developed well enough). The book would have been fine with just Caspar, Castella, and Mortimer. And those popular girls could have been combined. George was a main player in Castella’s story but he was one dimensional, predictable, and generally forgettable. Hannan, Delvive, and Jerusalem were hardly mentioned until the second half. The parents could have been more fleshed out. Partially, I think my negative reaction is because I just finished Still Life with Tornado by AS King yesterday, which follows a similar story of abuse, awakening, and redemption, but was a story of real drama told without the fictional melodrama that bogged down much of this book.
At the same time, I also couldn’t put this book down, and found myself compelled particularly by the characters of Caspar and Mortimer. Yet, by the end Mortimer’s arc seemed to drop off the face of the planet, and Caspar’s just moved in fits and starts.
So, while this book explores complex themes of faith, abuse, family, and redemption, I felt like the author did not develop her characters and their arcs well enough to really make a lasting impression.