The Cresswell Plot ★★★☆☆

26222109It’s dark, it’s creepy, it came out last week… and I just don’t know how I feel about The Cresswell Plot.

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.


The Cresswell Plot had some good characterization. Even though it’s such a trope and totally overdone, I do feel for Castella and her desire to be a normal girl un-burdened by her father’s strange rules. From her plain clothes, to the group prayers, to the scriptures and punishments, everything in her life is watched and controlled.

But I feel like some of the strangeness is strange for shock value. For example, Castella is supposed to marry her brother when she grows up. Strange. Shocking. Super awkward and disgusting.

The motives in The Cresswell Plot are pretty unclear. I don’t like opening and closing in the dark, it doesn’t keep me entertained to go in knowing nothing and come out feeling like I know even less. Granted, there are some scenes that are driven by this uncertainty.

That’s what keeps us turning the page, we want to know what we didn’t know on the last page. But I feel like I still have things I don’t know form page one.

The concept drew me and I definitely recommend you give it a chance, I just think my expectations for The Cresswell Plot were a little too high.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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