A family of six siblings, three boys, three girls, live in the thick of the woods and are different from everyone else. Their father believes they are the only pure people left on earth and will not waiver from the word of God.
What this means for Castley and her siblings is no clothing that might in any way show their figures; a constant lack of money and provisions to live on; the delusion that she and her brother Caspar will be married in heaven.
All Castley wants is to be like any other teenager. To have fun, fall in love, experiment and discover her personality. Instead she is left sneaking around in the middle of the night with her brothers doing good deeds for neighbours who have no ounce of interest in her or her family.
This book is intense. Eliza Wass has created a genuinely terrifying narrative from a book that I would not consider a thriller. Her personal experiences have led to a truly unique viewpoint of the world in which radical religious views have a place in everyday life. I didn’t think I would feel sympathy for Castley’s father, but in the end I almost feel that I do. His belief is so strong that it is all consuming and the strength of that belief is somewhat shocking.
The family dynamic in the book plays a huge role in providing Castley with the opportunity to push beyond her father’s very tight grip. Her relationship with her brother’s is fundamental to her fearless nature, while her twin sister Delvive demonstrates her want to be seen and her sadness at being constantly ignored or confused for someone else.
This book, as far as I’m concerned, is not a book about religion, insofar as it is a book about finding your own path in life and questioning the views of those around you. Religion is a powerful tool to achieve this, which Eliza has made elegant and raw use of. The clear demonstration of Crestley’s wavering faith and how that is intrinsically tied to how she feels about her family (particularly the relationship between her parents) is echoed in her search for normality and her rebellious nature that upends the narrative.
Two characters that I feel could have had a more powerful impact were Jerusalem and Hannan. Jerusalem, the mute artist who’s fierce protection of her art is contrasted by her love of painting in the presence of others. Her silence is unmoving even in the heat of the book’s climax, she never speaks – through which she demonstrates a resolve almost as strong as her fathers, but nowhere near as volatile. And Hannan, the football quarterback who has quite possibly the most leeway of all the children, is the most docile and subservient of all.
To see other books I want to read and review this summer check out my Books With Bite Anticipated Reads.
Have you read In The Dark, In The Woods? Tell me what you thought in the comments or tweet me @HowlingReviews.