I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
There have been a few recent YA novels that also dealt with cults that I enjoyed reading. I have been seeing quite a bit of chatter about Eliza Wass’s The Cresswell Plot, so I was excited about the opportunity to read an advanced copy of it.
Castella Cresswell serves as our narrator. Castley’s family is different than the other families in the area. They live on the outskirts of town, and she and her five siblings have limited contact with the outside world. Their father has preached of their difference for years; the Cresswells are special, and that God has singled them out among the heathens.
Castley and her siblings attend public school. Anyone who knows anything about cults/fanaticism knows that these families tend to avoid public school, but Wass explains this by alluding to a major incident in the past. The fallout from this incident required all of the children to be enrolled in public school in order for the children to remain in their parents’ custody.
This exposure to the outside world provides Castley and her siblings with glimpses of the outside world. They have spent their entire leaves hearing that it is a wicked world filled with demons in disguise, but the siblings are now teenagers, and they beginning to question what they have been taught. They have always known that their father is a dangerous man, but when he begins hinting that it is time for them to all be called home to heaven, they realize that their lives might be in danger.
The Cresswell Plot is an intense book. I read the entire thing in less than a day, and I had trouble putting it down. The suspense builds slowly as Castley shares more about their home life. At the same time, her awareness increases as she realizes how “wrong” her life is, and that the reason for their squalor is not simply because it is what God wants for their family.
I would absolutely recommend The Cresswell Plot. The descriptions of abuse are pretty horrific, and might make this book more suitable for older YA readers. Castley has such a unique voice; she is simultaneously wary of the outside world and also curious about it. This makes for an intriguing narrator who wavers between family loyalty and desire for independence. This is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time, and I am looking forward to reading more from Eliza Wass.