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Creatures

by Crissy Van Meter

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter X
Creatures by Crissy Van Meter
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2020
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Florence H. (Laguna Woods, CA)

Creatures
The improbable life of Evie on the mythical Winter Island was recounted with compassion and wry humor. Nature and marine life are beautifully described making island life appear wonderfully desirable. Evie's life from her alcoholic father, her absentee mother, her unreliable best friend and her unfaithful husband would appear tragic. However her resilience and ability to forgive rescues her and the novel.
Sharon S. (Louisville, KY)

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter
At the onset of Creatures, the senses are immediately stimulated by the sea, which is the nucleus of Chrissy Van Meter's enthralling debut novel. The visual, stinking rot of a dead whale lodged in the harbor is in close proximity to Evie's house. This decay is symbolic of the relationship with her negligent mother, who has been described as the epitome of unmotherliness. And then there is the alcoholic, marijuana dealing father who loves Evie dearly, but the daughter often has to father the father. It's no wonder that Evie struggles with trust in her relationships, particularly that of her husband who spends extended amounts of time at sea as a fisherman. Van Meter marries raw human emotion with that of the ebb and tide of the sea and the mysterious creatures that live beneath it. I highly recommend this poignant book to avid readers and their book clubs.
Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)

Loved This but Probably not for Everyone
This book is - well - a little dark. I thought from the synopsis that it would be funnier after all... "On the eve of Evangeline's wedding, a dead whale is trapped in the harbor, the groom might be lost at sea, and her mother has shown up out of the blue." It sounds a bit -you know - wacky, but in a good way. Turns out that it is a really stark and beautiful, but deeply messed up, story of a girl trying to navigate life with a broken compass in the form of an absent mom and a ne'er do well father. The narrative jumps around and often the chapters feel more like little essays - snapshots of a life, that when put together in any order offer a portrait of Evie and her version of love. I would recommend this book to my hard core literary friends, but not casual readers, if that makes sense.
Power Reviewer
Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)

Poetic, dark and beautiful
A powerful story about a girl growing up on an island where everything is about the sea. A mother who drops by every year or so, and a charming drug dealing addicted father who's her primary "caretaker"are her parents. It's very disjointed in timeline and theme, so if that's not you're thing, this is not for you. It's poetic, dark and beautiful.
Peggy H. (North East, PA)

Murky but enjoyable read
The story has been told before, mother leaves child with drifter father, child raises father. But the real characters here are the island and the sea which give the soul to the story.
The plot can be a bit confusing as we go back and forth in time in the life of the narrator. We gradually learn of the betrayals and abandonments that scar her life.
The references to sea creatures, however at times seem contrived, and don't add significantly to the story.
Laure R. (Fresno, CA)

CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
I found the book to be beautiful, disjointed, raw, tender, and disturbing at points. I did not regret reading it, ever.
The island setting for this tale is wonderfully described by the author and I was quickly drawn in. Details of the sea's creatures surrounding the island are sprinkled throughout the story.

Evangeline is the child of an addicted, loving father and a mostly absent mother. In adulthood she struggles learning how to love and accept love. No surprise. The setting and some unique circumstances she experiences kept me engaged.

Well done, Crissy Van Meter.
I will be recommending this book to others.
Frances N. (San Francisco, CA)

A floating timeline
I had a hard time, at first, with this book; but settled into it once I realized that the episode with the dead whale (which bookends the story) is a seminal event in the narrator's life, but is in the somewhat distant past. So much of the rest of the book jumps around in the past, in no chronological order, that it is a bit disconcerting; but very much like how most of us think of our lives. The narrator is raised by a substance-abusing, but mostly loving father while an errant, but mostly loving mother flits in and out of her life. And as do so many of the other people in her life, leaving her not trusting them or herself. So I guess this is a book about coming to terms with oneself, separate from those around us, and believing in love, really. It is well-written and one cares about the people, in spite of their failings.
Suzette P. (Chicago, IL)

A Good Yarn to Sink Into - Ignore the Shoals
The cover of the ARC is absolutely beautiful, the title intriguing, and the blurb on the back made me want to "plunge" in. (Get it? It's a pun on the heavy-handed ocean metaphors in which the author "swims".) I really wanted to love this book - the premise about a child raised by less than ideal parents seemed to me to be the fictional and island version of "The Glass Castle", which I thought was amazing. This book is beautifully written for the most part. However, some of the imagery is silly and unrealistic and it took me out of the story. (Two teenage girls sat outside in a hot tub all summer during hailstorms until they bled? Really?) I felt that the writer sometimes sacrificed logic for the sole sake of beautiful writing and ocean and island imagery. There are also annoying bullet-pointed asides randomly sprinkled throughout: "Whales evolved because they had to", for example. The symbolism and metaphors are oppressive at times. This writer has real talent and the story itself is interesting once you "navigate" around all of the "deep" and too obviously-made links to oceans and sea creatures and islands and get past what appear on first glance to be lyrically written sentences but on second turn out to make no sense ("he's sorry for hiding so long in the light and the dark"; "she was firm around her rib cage, which protects her middle things", etc). Overall, despite my criticisms, the story is good and the writing at times very lyrical. The writer is talented. I liked the ocean/island setting; I just felt that perhaps some judicious editing and tamping down of the too-obvious metaphors would make a good book great. Overall, I recommend "Creatures" with the caveat that the reader should "sail" past the nonsensical bits so as not to get "scuttled" before finishing.
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