By Hunter Shea
Chronic illnesses, incurable diseases, doctors and experimental treatments are all part of Kate’s life. Leaving Kate mostly confined to her house with her dog, Buttons, and her husband Andrew. Though Kate puts a brave face on everything, the battle with her own body has taken its toll, not just on her but on Andrew, too, as he struggles with anger issues and mounting frustration at the world.
In an attempt to give them both a slice of happiness, he rents a remote, lakeside cabin in Maine for the summer, but dead animals and strange night-time noises soon make it clear this isn’t going to be the idyllic retreat they both hoped for.
The horror in the first part of this novel is quiet and, for many people, very, very real. The inner turmoil for both Kate and Andrew is laid bare for the reader, making it at times difficult to read, but completely drawing the reader into the lives of these characters. Andrew does everything he can for Kate, but there are moments things just become too much for both of them. The dual POV is used to great effect, letting the reader not just see from Kate’s fantastically written viewpoint, but to gain a deeper understanding of how this situation affects Andrew, too.
The relationship between Kate and Andrew is a big strength, showing a very realistic couple dealing with a complex situation. The banter and affection allow us to see some real, tender moments between them. Despite their frustrations, it’s clear they would do anything for each other. The arguments feel real too, as they both grabble with the situation, and the moments where we see Andrew slip into blaming Kate, or Kate’s jealously, don’t impact negatively on the characters, but enhance them.
When the more overt horror comes in, we’re so deeply invested in the characters we really do care what happens to them, and are completely caught up in the events and outcomes.
It’s hard to convey just how powerful this novel is, with genuine, heartfelt moments alongside the deeper horror when the title Creature emerges, terrorizing the couple in what should be their peaceful, ideal cabin. The strength definitely comes from the quiet moments, the relationship between Andrew and Kate, and the story of this couple played out against the background horror.
A fantastic novel, Creature is definitely one not to miss, and I’m eager to read more of Shea’s work.
I should also add, staying in a wooden cabin while reading this (not remote, luckily, but at the bottom of a garden) made it that much more atmospheric, with creatures scratching and skittering across the roof and at the sides of the cabin in the middle of the night. Hard not to get completely absorbed in the novel with that backdrop. Maybe not something I would recommend, especially if you’re staying on your own with a fairly big garden between you and the main house where the rest of your family are.
Amazon link for Creature
Review by Elle Turpitt
I received a copy from the publisher for review consideration