BOOK REVIEW – The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

BOOK REVIEW – The Cresswell Plot by Eliza WassThe Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass
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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.

 Wow. Give The Cresswell Plot a slow clap for picturing such a fanatic, disturbing and abusive family without never creating ANY emotion in me. As far as my 1 star ratings are concerned, I usually follow two patterns :

1) The book makes me rage so much that I would love burning it, but it would be evil (I may be a Slytherin and an INTJ, even I have standards, you know).

2) The book is just so fucking bad that I,
a) want to forget that I even considered it, let alone read it ;
b) regularly burst of laughing at the most inappropriate moments ;
c) desperately shake my head in a “DID YOU SEE THIS?” fashion (alas, my dog didn’t).

Congrats, The Cresswell Plot! You proudly belong to #2, and here’s why :

1) There’s something to say about a narrative voice so flat and dispassionate that the most horrific events don’t make the reader blink an eye (think abuse, incest, crazy speech about God, JUST NAME IT). That something is : this is what happens when you can’t connect with the characters, when the plot what plot?! doesn’t make any sense and when the writing is nothing else than generic and devoid of any depth.

This book should earn a medal – it would go like this :


2) Somewhere along the way, The Cresswell Plot forgot that a mystery needed tension to have a fucking point. You know when everything is so confusing that you keep turning the pages, eager to know what will happen, to understand, finally? Do you see? Do you know what I mean??? Well, it wasn’t like that, but on the contrary the book and me went through many discussions like this –

Book : So our father want to marry us to each other
Me : whatevs

Book : And now there is this intriguing and questioning THING that happened SOMEDAY with SOMEONE and wouldn’t you want to know?
Me : whatever you sayyyyy

Book : I get the feeling that we don’t understand each other
Me : …

Book : i am dark though am i not (yeah, it kinda became a troll at some point)
Me : …

Book : But aren’t you intrigued just say it
Me : yeah, sure (now the head shaking I was talking about earlier) (please someone help me)

3) While we’re at it, can we focus one second on the fact that it got harder and harder for me to suspend my disbelief? So you have a family who’s living in the woods, surviving by selling junk on markets, and thinking that Heaven is that little place just for Them (because they’re the only ones really pure). I mean, okay. It’s hard for me to believe in this but ALRIGHT. I’m sure there are crazy people like this everywhere. But see, the children go to high school. One of them never talks and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Because the girl PAINTS.

“They loved that she never spoke; people thought that was really fabulous. “How wonderful,” they would say, “that she can speak so beautifully through her paintings.”

YOU DON’T SAY. Hey, honestly, if one of my pupils stopped talking at age 6 and draw fucking Monet, I would still be concerned by her absolute lack of TALKING. What’s this school really?! Shouldn’t be, say, social workers? Especially when every one of the kids show proofs of abuse (bruises, burns) and are starving? When it’s common knowledge that their father lock them in a hole in the woods when they “sinned”? NOBODY CARES? REALLY?

4) I dare you to connect to the characters. No, seriously. I DARE YOU. Since they’re exclusively built on telling and never, ever on showing, the only thing I can say is that the main character, Castella, does like rambling (and calling her boyfriend by his complete name. In. Her. Head. All. The. Time. Who does that?!) and for the other ones…


They are not there. They’re cardboard people. They don’t make any sense. THEY CAN’T KEEP A PERSONALITY FOR MORE THAN 10 PAGES. They are all over the place. It’s exhausting. I don’t care about any of them, and I SHOULD. Given what they go through, I should feel horrified and depressed and upset and fucking mad.

Above that, the fact that all of them trust their father *cough* are brainwashed *cough* makes for the most uncomfortable thoughts. If at first I accepted it, thinking that it would be handled later in the book, I can’t dismiss my discomfort now. If there’s something that maddens me, it’s when abuse isn’t called for what it is but only brushed off, and in the end, it’s how I feel in The Cresswell Plot. The way Castella and her siblings condemn it – only in the very end, and pretty quickly – is not enough. You don’t go and tackle that kind of hard issues without really dealing with them.

5) The last paragraph was so lame, okay?

“Some people might look pretty or talk prettily, but it’s the things they do that tell you if they’re worthy of your time. It’s the things they do that tell you if they deserve your faith.”

Amen, I guess? Such a disappointment, really. Do not recommend.

*arc kindly provided by Disney-Hyperion through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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  1. Kim

    I actually wound up liking this (4 stars), but I see your points and your review is priceless!😆

    • Anna

      Thank you Kim! I’m glad you enjoyed it more than me 😀

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