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The Cresswell Plot

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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.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published June 7, 2016

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About the author

Eliza Wass

4 books135 followers
"One day we'll find a way to make a brand new start." --Alan Wass

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5 stars
237 (14%)
4 stars
497 (30%)
3 stars
622 (37%)
2 stars
222 (13%)
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72 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 431 reviews
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
841 reviews3,774 followers
February 15, 2021

1.5 stars. 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*

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,912 followers
June 7, 2017
You might wonder why I keep reading young adult books even though...

Because sometimes they are really, really good.

This one wasn't.

It should have been though because the synopsis sounds right up my alley. A close knit family lives off in the woods in a shack. You have six kids, Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, Jerusalem and Castella. They live with their 'prophet' father and mother (who can't walk because umm I think daddy pushed her down the stairs)
They know that they are different from the town folk. Daddy gets his thoughts directly from God and they know that only the way they live is going to get them into heaven.
So how do they live? They aren't allowed to socialize with the heathen town folk, wear homemade dresses and when they get to heaven their family is sooo special that they are going to marry each other because of the perfectness.

Castley starts to realize that something isn't right with her family. She starts to question. Then Daddy decides God has told him it's time the family went to Heaven.

It sounds good. It just didn't hold up. Throw in a weird story line with a local boy named George who did a one ninety at one point in the story and I was scratching my head.
It's never told why Daddy thinks he is the voice of God or nuthin.

It wasn't the worst book ever but I won't remember it tomorrow.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.
Profile Image for May.
Author 10 books8,603 followers
September 22, 2016

En el bosque es una novela juvenil espeluznante y de misterio que me ha dejado con la boca abierta desde la primera página y que me he leído de una sentada en una noche. Una novela que ha sabido dejarme totalmente trastornada y que me ha gustado muchísimo. Sin duda una de las recomendaciones y descubrimientos de este año y un libro que no podéis perderos porque no os dejará indiferente.
Comenzaré diciendo que me leí En el bosque anoche de una sentada. Lo comencé sin saber qué esperarme y no pude soltarlo hasta el final. Se lee muy rápido porque es cortitito y porque está cargado de acción y giros que te enganchan a más no poder. Además, es una novela que destila tanto misterio y mal rollo que mientras la lees te sientes mal por lo que está pasando entre sus páginas. Es una novela que juega con el morbo a más no poder y que por eso mismo me ha gustado muchísimo ya que es muy original.
Como digo, En el bosque es muy original. Original porque trata la religión de una manera diferente y cercana a la autora. Hace poco leí un artículo donde contaba que esta novela se basa un poco en su experiencia propia porque ella por culpa de la religión vivió veinticinco años cautiva sin ser dueña de su propia vida por imposición familiar. Si habéis leído En el bosque o planeáis leerlo entenderéis que esta historia es un paralelismo completo de su vida. Y sin duda me ha parecido muy original porque es la primera novela que leo que se atreva a ser tan mordaz con la religión.
Más allá de eso Eliza Wass crea una ambientación increíble. Con pocas páginas y a través de una novela muy ligera nos hace llegar una familia oscura y cruel, donde el padre está enfermo e intenta controlar a sus hijos de manera espeluznante. Mientras leía la novela me sentía parte de la historia y la autora ha sido capaz de emocionarme hasta hacerme llorar cuando lxs protagonistas sufrían abusos.
Sobre todo, En el bosque es una novela de denuncia. Denuncia el abuso infantil, la imposición de la religión y la marginación social. Es una novela con un objetivo claro y que nos hará pensar a través de su historia ficticia (aunque realmente no lo sea tanto). Y por eso mismo creo que es una buena novela de lectura obligatoria porque plantea temas que no se han tocado demasiado en la literatura juvenil y que nos harán replantearnos muchísimas cosas.
Los personajes son muy buenos y están genial construidos. Cada hermanx juega un papel diferente en la historia y al final, en pocas páginas, todxs tienen su minuto de gloria y demuestran que no son floreros en la trama. La protagonista me parece un personaje muy bien profundizado y que pone sobre la mesa una serie de contradicciones normales para su edad y sus condiciones de vida.
En resumen, En el bosque es una novela altamente recomendable, que nos hará pensar y que pone sobre la mesa temas que están muy a la orden del día. Por no hablar de que atrapa desde la primera página y es tan espeluznante que sabrá poner los pelos de punta a todxs lxs lectorxs.
Profile Image for Josu Diamond.
Author 9 books33k followers
October 5, 2016
Tiene elementos que me gustan, sí. Elementos tabú, una historia que te mantiene pensando '¿qué pasará?' y personajes que no llegas a conocer del todo porque tienen un aura de misterio rodeándolos todo el tiempo. Sin embargo, si estas cosas no se ejecutan correctamente, se puede quedar en algo bastante... simple.

En el bosque no es una novela al uso más que nada porque casi ninguna novela juvenil trata los temas que esta trata. La protagonista es interesante, más que nada por la evolución que vive -una evolución algo forzada en ciertos momentos pero correcta para la historia. El resto de personajes juegan un papel significativo en la construcción del ambiente, le dan ese toque tenebroso y misterioso que la novela necesita.

Las tramas adolescentes no me han convencido, como tampoco me ha convencido el desenlace. Casi todo me ha parecido narrado de pasada, como si fuera un resumen de una novela más larga. No me ha desagradado que fuera una novela corta, sino que no ahondase en los temas importantes (en cómo nuestra protagonista se enfrenta a dos relaciones amorosas conflictivas al mismo tiempo, o cómo descubre ciertas cosas hacia el final del libro). Hay novelas cortas que consiguen arrastrarte del todo en su historia, pero En el bosque solo lo hace realmente durante la primera mitad, la segunda es algo más floja.

En definitiva, En el bosque es una novela interesante con elementos atrevidos pero que pierden en el desarrollo. Se lee enseguida: es cogerlo y no soltarlo. La recomiendo para las personas que busquen algo diferente en la novela juvenil; es una buena apuesta dentro de lo que cabe.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,727 reviews1,279 followers
March 6, 2016
(Source: I was able to view a digital galley of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and NetGalley.)

“Keep your eyes fixed firmly on heaven. That is where we belong.”

This was quite an odd story about a group of siblings ruled by their father and his strong beliefs.

I felt quite sorry for Castella in this story because all she really wanted was to be a normal girl, and not to be held to all these strange rules by her father. She did make some less than intelligent decisions at times, but I think this was mainly due to her strange upbringing.

The storyline in this was about Castella’s life, and her siblings lives, and the strange way they lived. I found it quite odd the way Castella was supposed to marry her own brother when she was older, and how they were supposed to live a set way, and I really did wonder whether her father was suffering from a mental illness based on the way he treated his family.

The ending to this was quite weird, but wasn’t without some big revelations.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Erin .
1,233 reviews1,142 followers
October 9, 2018
I don't know how I feel about The Cresswell Plot. I assumed that I would know if I liked this book or not by time I finished reading it but I still don't know.

The Cresswell Plot is about Castella Cresswell, her five siblings and her very very mentally ill parents. Her father believes he receives messages from God that include such craziness as the belief that once they die they will all marry each other in heaven...Oh and apparently they're the only ones going to heaven. This family gave me Duggar vibes and severely creeped me out.

I felt as I was reading it like nothing was happening but I also couldn't stop reading it. I'm very confused.

Can a book be boring and compulsively readable at the same time?

I decided to give The Cresswell Plot 3 stars because 4 stars was too many but 2 stars seemed too harsh. I don't rule out waking up tomorrow and completely changing the rating and review. It could happen.

No rec because I'm baffled.
Profile Image for Srta Books.
192 reviews777 followers
October 9, 2016
No sé si darle un 3 o un 2,5...ha sido un libro rarísimo. La verdad que lo he terminado y no me ha aportado nada. Me ha dejado con ganas de saber mucho más y arrggg no me ha resuelto nada. Me esperaba un final de 10 y me he encontrado con un final pésimo. No me ha gustado nada.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,812 followers
June 8, 2016
I somewhat enjoyed this book actually, despite its many pitfalls, because most of my issues with it came right at the end. The first 3/4 of the book feels like it promises a lot of things, and compelled me to read on... but then...

The ending was extremely abrupt and I don't really understand what happened with George Gray -- and I think at some point I think this book forgot it was supposed to be a ~MyStEry~ because there were things I was very interested to find out that were... never resolved. I still was interested in Castella's inner/personal journey and her relationship with her siblings.

I was really rooting for this book the entire time I read it. It's a unique look at a strange form of child abuse with decent characters and lots of inner turmoil, but it fell short in a lot of places, especially right at the end.

I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of it, but then when it didn't deliver, the ending wasn't nearly as satisfying as I hoped.
Profile Image for Patricia Bejarano.
436 reviews5,403 followers
October 13, 2016
Si hay algo que me ha gustado de esta novela es que te atrapa desde su sinopsis, y tiene un ritmo trepidante, lo que hace que se lea rapidísimo, pero hay muchísimas cosas que por desgracia, no me han convencido. Siento que no se ha profundizado en la historia, que partía de una idea muy buena pero que no han sabido sacarla partido. Y debido a la extensión de la novela (demasiado corta para lo que querían contar) y a la trama que quiso plasmar la autora, siento que no se profundiza lo suficiente en los personajes, que no sabemos por qué son como son en ningún momento y que el final me pareció un chasco total para la intriga que tiene toda la novela en ese sentido. No sé, una decepción en muchos sentidos.
Profile Image for Miniikaty .
534 reviews118 followers
October 23, 2016
Un 2,5.

La premisa me parecía muy interesante -además de acertada para leer en esta época del año-, tiene una base atrayente, contándonos la historia de una familia encerrada en sí misma, alejada de la modernidad y de todos los demás seres humanos y con unas creencias acérrimas que lleva a cabo un padre abusivo y controlador, algo que podría haber dado mucho juego si se hubiera llevado de otra manera, porque tenía todo un mundo por explotar, misterio para dar y tomar y unos personajes interesantes, pero me ha parecido que faltaban cosas por contar, dar profundidad a ciertos personajes para llegar a comprenderlos bien y deja además incógnitas sin resolver. Tal vez con alguna página más o contando la historia desde el punto de visto de varios personajes todo esto se hubiera resuelto.

Reseña completa: http://letraslibrosymas.blogspot.com....
Profile Image for Anabel.
654 reviews115 followers
May 14, 2020
Ha sido un libro adictivo, pero me han faltado muchas cosas, muchas páginas. Creo que la idea no era mala, incluso me ha parecido original nunca he leído un libro así. El final me ha resultado algo precipitado, y me he sentido que no era suficiente, tengo que reflexionar mi reseña. Le he dado 3 estrellas porque me ha resultado muy rápido de leer y la idea no es mala.
Pronto reseña en el Blog.
Profile Image for Amber.
992 reviews
August 22, 2016
Castley and her family are outcasts in their small town due to their weird ways. When their abusive father decides for them to go back to heaven, Castley refuses and rebels. Can she save her family from being buried alive? Read and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good and sad read. I enjoyed this book about learning to live your own life away from family. Definitely look for this book wherever books are sold.
Profile Image for Vorágine (ig:voragineblog).
669 reviews125 followers
September 24, 2016

Este libro destaca por la peculiaridad de la familia Cresswell y la realidad paralela en la que el padre ha hecho crecer a los hijos. Si esperáis un libro con mucha acción, este no es el vuestro. En cambio, si buscáis uno donde los personajes evolucionen mucho y se reflexione sobre la mente humana, las religiones y las realidades, este es vuestro libro.

Reseña completa: http://voragineinterna.blogspot.com.e...
Profile Image for Laurie Flynn.
Author 6 books1,078 followers
June 20, 2016
Wow. What a haunting, suspenseful, fascinating read. The writing is both lyrical and sparse, and was able to fully transport me in the Cresswell world, where main character Castella and her five siblings live under the oppressive reign of their father and his suffocating religious beliefs. Castley is torn between the rules she has grown up with and the only home she has ever know, and the thrilling, illicit possibility of another life, a normal one. As she starts rebelling in small ways and exploring what life could be like as a regular teenager, her father makes a stunning proclamation-- it's time for the Cresswells to leave Earth and live in Heaven. But Castley isn't ready to go, and she has to figure out how far she will go to make her siblings see the possibilities her eyes have been opened to.

I think what I loved best about this book was how deeply I was in Castley's head and able to feel the pain of her internal dilemma. Since her upbringing was so unconventional, it would have been easy to feel disconnected from her, but thanks to Eliza Wass's evocative language and talent for showing emotions, I was pulled right in to Castley's struggle. I also admire how fully fleshed-out the other characters are, including Castley's siblings. Eliza Wass proves that you don't have to say a lot to bring a character to life, and that having the right words is so much more important than having too many words.

This is a story both terrifying and visceral, realistic and ethereal. It's vivid and jarring and incredibly thought-provoking. It's a story about family and the ties that bind, and how far you can pull those ties before they snap. It's a story about saving yourself, and the monsters you need to save yourself from- and how different they are than what you were made to believe. It's about believing in yourself above all else, and that's a theme any reader will be able to relate to.
Profile Image for Kerri.
980 reviews351 followers
April 30, 2019
I didn't really write reviews at the time I read this book, but it's been almost two years since then, and I just wanted to take a moment to note that this book still pops into my head quite frequently. It was dark and strange and, while not perfect, was really compelling and has stuck with me, which I always think is a good thing.
I must make it a priority this year to read her other book as there was something about the writing that really clicked with me.

I am going to raise my rating from four stars to five, as I'd debated between the two at the time of reading, and given how long it's stuck with me, I think it's earned it.
Profile Image for Jeilen.
466 reviews22 followers
March 29, 2021
Me gustó el libro, tiene una tremenda atmósfera.
La historia en si era esperada, pero no por eso dejó de interesarme. El final me dejó un poco meh, un poco más de coherencia en eso y se iba con más estrellas.

Profile Image for Kai Van.
545 reviews13 followers
June 28, 2016
I whipped through this book. I had no intention of reading it right away when I bought it, but after casually reading the first paragraph, I was hooked.

The writing is just so good. It flows. It catches you & doesn't let go. I HAD to finish it immediately once I started.

I felt so much for the Cresswell kids. Seriously, it felt like my heart & chest were on fire for most of the book. It's not as violent as I assumed it would be, as it IS about these children & how their father manipulates, abuses, & forces them into his absurd personal religious beliefs. There are definitely a few violent moments, just less than I assumed there would be going in.

The only thing I'm knocking 1 star off for is the end. Though I felt it definitely ended well, I mostly just wish there was more of a follow-up with what happens after & a couple questions I wish I could have more detailed/definitive answers for.

But even without those, this book was amazing. It definitely had me at the edge of my seat & frantic for the whole thing.

If the subject matter isn't something that would bother you too much, I gotta recommend you pick this one up & give it a go. I loved it & can't wait to see what other stories Eliza Wass has up her sleeve!!
Profile Image for bec..
142 reviews89 followers
June 2, 2016
This was really gripping but I just wanted more. Review to come.
Profile Image for Tammie.
217 reviews56 followers
June 5, 2016
The Cresswell Plot is one dark and creepy book. I can honestly say that this is one of the most disturbing books involving family dynamics since I read The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell. A relatively short book, it's a quick and interesting read. The story revolves around the Cresswell family, a family of eight that is run by a super strict and religious father. The father has absolutely no redeeming qualities and runs his household based on fear and intimidation. The story is ultimately about the struggles of the six Cresswell children as they start doubting their father's belief system and start testing his super strict rules. The ending was somewhat abrupt for me and though the ending could have been better, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Brenda Zlotolow.
Author 2 books386 followers
February 20, 2017
2,5 stars
En el bosque” es una novela diferente, un libro que a pesar de ser juvenil contiene una trama creativa, atrevida y espeluznante, capaz de atraer lectores de todos los géneros y edades. El libro trata acerca de la peculiar familia Cresswell, 6 hermanos que, en una casa ubicada en los bosques viven bajo las estrictas órdenes de Dios que llegan a oídos de ellos a través de su padre, quien parece encarnar su voluntad. 6 niños que solo conocen lo que este hombre les ha enseñado a lo largo de toda su vida, enseñanzas impartidas a través de golpes, maltratos y amenazas, aislados del mundo exterior. Una novela que trata temas como el abuso, la religión y el incesto que alcanza su punto de máxima tensión cuando el padre de estos jóvenes manifiesta recibir una revelación divina que pondrá en peligro a toda su familia llevando sus creencias al límite.
Que no era un libro como cualquier otro del género juvenil lo sabía desde antes de comenzar a leerlo y aquello bastó para generar sobre esta lectura ciertas expectativas. Lamentablemente, y a pesar de haberlo leído en menos de dos días, la novela me ha decepcionado. Lo tenía todo para ser un gran libro, pero considero falló en la forma de narrar lo que de entrada parecía ser una gran historia. Le faltó profundidad en muchas ocasiones a los hechos y episodios que tenían lugar, y por sobre todas las cosas, sentí que los personajes no estaban bien construidos; sus personalidades me parecerieron demasiados cambiantes (como es el caso de George cuya participación en la historia aun me hace ruido), y no encontraba los motivos que justificaran tales comportamientos, o formas de pensar que de una página a otra se tornaban radicalmente opuestas. Asimismo, muchas dudas me quedaron sobre cómo estos personajes eran en edad, apariencia y personalidad. Por último, el final de esta historia, como muchas otras partes, se resuelve en muy pocas páginas, de manera precipitada, generando confusión y dudas al respecto. Rescato que, por la originalidad de la trama, los tópicos que se anima a exponer, la sencillez de los diálogos y su corta extensión, se devora en poco tiempo, pero creo deja hacia el final un sabor amargo y no termina de convencer. Quizás en mayor cantidad de páginas, o en estas mismas 250 pero con más profundidad y nivel de detalle, la opinión hubiera sido otra.
Profile Image for Gianclaudio.
90 reviews14 followers
February 26, 2018
4.5 ⭐. Que libro genial, no tanto como la peculiar familia de este libro. Pensé que no me iba a atrapar rapido a esta historia pero PUM, me vicié. Es muy bueno el libro, pronto tendrán reseña.
Profile Image for Karen.
492 reviews95 followers
March 31, 2021

The Cresswell Plot is about a “cult-like” family known for their religious beliefs and the way they live. Castella Cresswell is the main character. She has recently been sent to a public school after DCF got involved. If only they had stay involved. The Cresswells are living in their ramshackle home, without power or running water, and that home is lorded over by her father. He expects obedience and offers strict punishment to those who don’t follow rules. Some of their beliefs go beyond the mentality that they will be the only ones saved. These beliefs include incest to protect the bloodline, and now a return to their heavenly home. Castella wants out of her father’s home, but she needs to figure out how to get her siblings out as well.

I am not sure how to even start this review. My first thought at this family was horror. People live like this, even today! Mom is mostly absent from their lives and their father is horrible. This is religion gone so wrong. Can you imagine living without power and water? That’s barbaric. As Castella describes her brother/intended I was dumbfounded. Her father not only suggested incest between his three female and three male children, he demanded it. The kids all struggled with reconciling God with their lives.

Okay, although this story was weird, I was strangely fascinated by it. Castella’s response to her situation is believable and heartbreaking. Castella sees her brothers getting punished and sent to a cave, and this action catapults her questioning everything about their lives. Since their mother is mostly silent and their father is off the deep end, the children are left to figure things out for themselves. Castella gets a little help working things out because she makes a friend at school. His view of her helps her to understand that things are really wrong at home. I was sated with this friendship, even though it ended sort of in a hurry.

Although the context was somewhat unsettling, I found this book mostly entertaining. I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading this, it was just a really different type of read then I am used to. I had more than a few questions after I read this book, loads of things were left unanswered. I doubt this book will appeal to a lot of YA readers, it is really out there. The climax of this story was a bit disappointing, but I liked where Castella ended up.
Profile Image for ☠Kayla☠.
219 reviews79 followers
March 27, 2022
I struggled rating this. I don't like books that are only about religion and not much else, so I should have known this book would have left me feeling a bit irritated when the whole book was nothing but.
There is really no other way to explain this book other than six teens are living in an extremely religious house hold and their father thinks God speaks to him and decides one day that God told him they'll all be going to heaven soon and one of the siblings decides shes going to save the others. (I think they're all teens but not sure as it actually doesn't tell the age of one of the girls) I mean that's really it there wasn't good character building, there were some side characters and we really knew nothing about them other then there names and possibly they're the popular kids? I really don't know it didn't say but the way the main character told the story it seemed like it.
Honestly this story had so much potential to be something good but it fell flat and honestly I just don't think it was long enough. If there was more story telling and this book was just a little longer with a little more detail and character build and more of the characters thoughts and activities in they're daily life and they're escapades through the night I think this book would have been a pretty good read. The only reason I didn't dnf it was because it was short, I flew through it, and I did have enough interest to keep going.
The ending though. I WANTED MORE!! I felt like we didn't really get a full ending and just a very VERY small portion of what could have been a really great ending (think a detailed epilog a few months in the future) this one though was a page and a half with not many answers to questions.
I will say though there was a small "oh shit" moment that had me thinking "ok maybe this is gonna turn into a campy thriller", but nope, the story just kinda ended.

Im giving it a 2.5 stars though because though I didn't like it, I was interested enough to keep going though I was considering dnfing it... so it's like smack in the middle of its ok and I didn't like it.
Profile Image for Brittany S..
1,497 reviews697 followers
May 20, 2016
Initial Impressions 3/1/16: 3.25 - 3.75 stars | Because of a little bit of disappointment in the conclusion, rounding down to three on Goodreads
That really wasn't quite what I expected at all. It was definitely interested but it was all quite horrifying to witness what this Cresswell family went through and why. I'm still not totally sure I understand their father's motives, which is a bit sad. I was hoping for the conclusion to really dig into some more answers and more things about the past but it really didn't.
I think my own expectations let me down a bit because I thought it would be a bit more "thriller" than it was. It was definitely fast-paced and nerve-wracking but I thought there would be more time spent away from the family.
Some nice little twists here and there. Ultimately, I think I just wished for more and a better wrap-up. I think there could have been a few more paragraphs to explain things a little better and really tie up the ending nicely.

Review as originally posted HERE on The Book Addict's Guide 5/11/16: I was really excited to start THE CRESSWELL PLOT and actually dug into it as soon as I got the approval from Disney-Hyperion on Netgalley! The book sounded extremely interesting and quite thrilling so I was incredibly curious to see how things played out. Once I started, I realized either the synopsis changed since the book was first announced or I was just totally off-based with my expectations because THE CRESSWELL PLOT really wasn’t what I had expected.

The book was definitely hard to walk away from. I was sucked into the Cresswell’s world and intrigued with Castley’s role in it. The Cresswells are an ultra-religious family but they basically have their own religion. They follow the rules of the Bible but their father also has written his own Bible of sorts so there’s this weird, blurry line of how much Father Cresswell believes his word is God and how much he believes he’s pulled from scripture. It was actually quite horrifying to read how terribly this family was controlled and made to fear the outside world.

Honestly, the controlling and abusive aspects made this book really hard to read and yet I also couldn’t pull myself away. I got incredibly concerned for Crestley and her siblings so I didn’t want to leave the story without knowing what happened to them, but I was constantly cringing at how her father treated them and the brainwashing that was involved to make the kids think that everything he was doing was God’s plan. I’m not sure how to classify the book — realistic fiction, thriller, a mix, or neither — but I had set out with the mindset that it was going to be a bit more of a thriller so I had hoped for more there. Since it was so hard to read about the family life, I had been hoping to spend more time with Crestley or the other siblings outside of their property and exploring more of what “normal” life would be like.

The ending also happened a bit abruptly for my taste. There was a solid conclusion with a little bit of a lingering question but it all sort of happened so quickly that I was hoping for more of a transition. I feel like the book could have benefited from a few more paragraphs or even a short chapter to tie everything up and explain what happened after the fast-paced sequence of events that led to the conclusion. I also would have really loved to know more about the father and exactly why and how he became the way he did. There wasn’t really much backstory or reasoning behind how he chose to raise his family so I would have really liked to see more explanation.

Overall, THE CRESSWELL PLOT was a book I couldn’t tear myself away from and yet I had a hard time reading it. The concept drew me in and I didn’t want to put the book down so it made for a super quick read and it was also something that made met think about lifestyles other than my own. Again, I think my expectations of what the book was somehow got thrown really off-base and I’m not sure if I would have picked the book up so soon if ever knowing that this was the actual plot. That being said, it was also interesting to read and I always like pushing the boundaries of what I might normally pick up so I’m glad I did read it.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,846 reviews
June 4, 2016
3.5/5 stars

The Cresswell Plot is a standalone YA contemporary book. I've seen it listed as a mystery or thriller. But to me it doesn't really fit in either of those categories.

The narrator is 17 year old Castella/Castley Cresswell (girl). She has five siblings Hannan (boy), Caspar (boy), Mortimer (boy), Delvive (girl), and Jerusalem/Baby J (girl). At first I could not tell which ones were boys and which ones were girls (since most of the names were so unusual). They are very poor and live in the woods.

These kids are made fun of by the other kids. Their father is super strict, religious and very mean. His beliefs are very odd and creepy.

This book made me extremely uncomfortable at times. This book was so different. I liked Castley and especially enjoyed her in her drama class. But the philosophy the father had was just really bizarre and creepy. And the punishments were horrifying.

The book really is different. The characters and their lives are like nothing I have read or experienced. But there are definitely some very disturbing things in this story.

There were definitely a bunch of things towards the end that did not really make sense to me, especially re: Castley's friend George. There was an unexpected reveal that I really did enjoy. A lot of stuff at the end happened very fast. But I did enjoy the six months later part. Overall, I really am not sure what to make of this book. It was really not what I was expecting. It was unusual and different. And I definitely commend the author for writing something that I have not seen before.

Thanks to netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for Linda Bargas.
190 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2017
Just.... WOW. Ever wonder what makes someone stay? This is a grippingly simple glimpse into those minds. (Of *course* there are ridiculous parts, but the readability of it didn't have me question too deeply.)
Profile Image for Natalia Pinto Gatica.
243 reviews35 followers
March 30, 2019
En el bosque es un libro juvenil que nos narra la historia de la familia Cresswell compuesta por 6 menores que según su padre son los elegidos para habitar el cielo junto a Dios. Después de un incidente con la madre de la familia, los niños/as son obligados a ir a la escuela, este acontecimiento los sitúa como los extraños y peculiares jóvenes de todo el establecimiento educacional e incluso del poblado, convirtiéndolos en la atracción de todos los jóvenes que allí residen.

Los Cresswell tratan de integrarse y pasar desapercibidos, pero pronto se darán cuenta que les gustaría llevar una vida normal y comienzan a cuestionarse las palabras de su padre.

Castley es una de las mayores y junto a Caspar (el supuesto hermano reencarnado), se enfrentarán a sus creencias y costumbres. Ella es una chica fuerte e inteligente que hará lo posible por salvar a sus hermanos de las garras de su padre e incluso del mismo Dios.

El libro, en general, nos introducirá en esta secta religiosa que ha creado el mismísimo Padre de familia, que dice ser un intermediario de Dios y que recibe sus visiones directamente de él; pero ¿es Dios realmente quien le da sus mensajes?

Castley esta a punto de cumplir la mayoría de edad, y extrañamente su padre se ha empezado a comportar de manera extraña, diciendo que Dios los esta reclamando en su reino. ¿será capaz de matar a sus propios hijos/as?, ¿Qué ha pasado realmente con el hermano mayor fallecido?, ¿es Caspar realmente la reencarnación de su hermano?

A través de la historia aparecerán continuamente preguntas que se irán resolviendo a medida que vas pasando páginas. Personalmente me pareció un libro crudo, pero con personajes bien construidos y situaciones bastante fuertes. Me parece interesante el hecho de que la autora se inspiro en su propia vida para crear el libro, específicamente con el fin de evitar que jóvenes caigan en sectas religiosas, las sepan detectar y tengan la esperanza de poder escapar de ellas.

Totalmente recomendado.
Profile Image for Aj Sterkel.
781 reviews31 followers
August 22, 2018
Likes: A story about weirdos in the woods? You know I’m always here for that.

So, this little book is fantastically messed up. The narrator and her five strangely named siblings live with their parents in the woods. The government has recently started forcing the Cresswell siblings to attend school, which has opened a new world to them. The siblings’ reactions to life outside the woods are realistically mixed. They want to be “normal” kids, but they don’t want to disappoint their fanatically Christian parents. The harder they try to fit in at school, the crazier their father becomes. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the end of the story is nuts. It gets violent and intense.

I love that the teen characters speak like teens. They swear, make crude sexual comments, and are constantly insulting each other. Basically, they behave like (almost) everyone I knew as a teen.

Since the kids are so realistic, they’re easy to love. I wanted Castley to leave her abusive father, but I didn’t want her to lose her siblings. I was scared for the kids at the end. I didn’t want them to get hurt, and I didn’t see how all of them could get out of the woods alive. I was definitely invested in the characters.

“Keep your eyes fixed firmly on heaven. That is where we belong.” – The Cresswell Plot

Dislikes: Either I’ve read too many cult books, or the foreshadowing is too heavy. I predicted (most of) the ending. I knew who was going to save the kids. Since I knew what was going to happen, I got frustrated that the plot was taking so long to get there. There’s a ton of slow buildup, and then everything is over in a rush. The pacing is all over the place.

I think the book needed to be longer. (Or maybe spend less time focusing on Castley’s angsty waffling.) There are a lot of characters. A few of them are well-developed, but the rest are just . . . there. I wanted to know what was happening in their lives.

The Bottom Line: Not my favorite fictional cult book. (That honor still goes to The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.) Overall, I liked it. I got frustrated with the pacing, but the characters kept my attention.

Do you like reviews, giveaways, and bookish nonsense? I have a blog for that.
Profile Image for Saruuh Kelsey.
Author 23 books83 followers
April 21, 2016
There are no words for this book. It far surpasses any language. I'm not even going to attempt a full review of this book because it has left me emotional and practically speechless. Here are the points I wrote down:

- Atmospheric, real-world thriller (no fantasy or magic)
- Unsettling, upsetting, chilling
- Makes you doubt what's real, who's good or bad, if God exists in the way we know it today (as faith) or as something more (as magic)
- Realistic, easy-to-like MC. I honestly cannot say the right words to describe her. Amazing doesn't cover it, brave is nowhere near powerful enough. Maybe I should just say powerful - Castella is powerful in her own right.
- A Brilliant cast of characters. I appreciated all the siblings but I ADORED Caspar. I'd go to the ends of the earth to protect him.
- Cult-like family that is honest-to-gods terrifying. I don't mean scary or creepy or eerie. I mean TERRIFYING. Do not read this and expect an easy read. It will disturb you. It will push you out of your comfort zone. It will captivate you too.
- A haunting insight into the horrors of humanity
- Just wonderful, resonating, and emotional. It's written with such care and compassion that you can't help but be swept away.
- I will read anything Eliza Wass writes. She could write about a secret rebellion (ugh) in a virtual reality game (ughhhhhh) with a super cliche story, and I would still devour it.
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