US Title: And The Trees Crept In
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Date Published: July 14 2016 (UK/AUS)
September 6 2016 (USA)
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Booktopia – Hachette Australia
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When Silla and her little sister, Nori, escape London and their abusive father, Aunt Cath’s country house feels like a safe haven. Leaving the smog and fear behind, the girls have the love and freedom they never had in their violent home. But slowly, ever so slowly, things begin to unravel.
Aunt Cath locks herself in the attic and spends day and night pacing; every day the surrounding forest inches slowly towards the house; a mysterious boy appears from the enclosing wood offering friendship, and Nori claims that a man watches them from the dark forest. A man with no eyes who creeps ever closer. . .
** I was provided with a free copy of this book via Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review **
Why do I always read books that impossible to review without giving away the entire plot? Anyway.
The Creeper Man is an atmospheric and haunting tale of two sisters – Silla and Nori. Silla and Nori have not had an easy home life which is evident in Silla’s withdrawn personality and Nori’s mutism. Things come to a head and they both escape from their old life and find themselves at their Aunt Cath’s mansion, La Baume. The mansion is surrounded by Python Wood and Aunt Cath warns the girls that they can never go back in there because of something she and her two sisters (one of those being Nori and Silla’s mother) did when they children. Despite Aunt Cath’s eccentric behaviour, Silla and Nori start to believe that they can start a new life at La Baume, but it doesn’t take long for things to change and they realise they’ve just substituted one hell for another.
Rotting in your skin
rotting in your mind
you are rotting in this house
in this house you’ll die.
What I loved the most about The Creeper Man was that at the start of some chapters there were “broken book entries” which kind of read like blackout poetry in the sense that certain words were bolded. There some really cool stylised pages too. The book, in general, was a lot more poetic and atmospheric than I was expecting. It wasn’t your usual kind of action packed horror. Sure there were some extremely grotesque and confronting scenes, but it was quite slow paced and almost felt like a Gothic Horror at times.
Dawn Kurtagich wrote Silla’s descent into madness brilliantly. I honestly felt like I was going mad myself along with her. If you’re triggered by intrusive thoughts please be careful if you decide to read this. I felt like they really helped you feel what Silla was experiencing, but I know some people can’t read things like that. I also want to warn you for a slight trigger warning involving eating disorders. You’ll probably be confused the entirety of the book. I feel like Silla’s madness, the scenes involving the trees closing in around the house along with The Creeper Man (who was very Slender Man-esque) were some of the strongest parts of the book. The neglect and malnourshment that Silla and Nori faced was extremely realitstic and not glossed over like it can be in a lot of YA books. You know how in some Dystopias where everyone still looks perfect even though they’re not supposed to have food ect? This definitely doesn’t happen here.
One thing that really confused me was when the story took place. It was supposed to be in the present, but there was talk of war and the style of writing and the way the characters spoke made it feel like it was set in the past. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it definitely made me feel a little off while reading.
The mansion, La Baume, felt like its own character and I love when the settings in books feel alive. I enjoyed Nori and Silla as characters too. Nori was mute and Silla spoke to her in sign language and I thought it was great to see that represented in a book. Their sister relationship is strong and realistic despite the chaos around them. Silla does have a love interest and it is quite instalove-y. There’s a reason for this, but it’s still something I can never get behind.
The ending, like most horrors, was quite vague. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m not sure I was a fan of it. It sort of seemed like it made the rest of the book redundant.
It’s hard to say much more without spoiling things and this is definitely a book where you need to discover things along with the characters. Overall, I did really enjoy this though. It was creepy, vivid and I was really caught up with what was happening. If you’re looking for a unique horror read then I definitely recommend that you check out The Creeper Man!
And then it falls forward on all fours, long and thing and impossible, scuttling back ito the woods, head cocked up to me, grinning, until he is nothing but tree and shadow and I don’t know if I’ve seen it at all.
The Creeper Man.
Of all the things that thing could have been, a man is not it.