Review: Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson


in a sentence or so: Bobby, his mom, and his half-brother Dennis are moving to the country to escape Dublin. Bobby needs to get away from his no-good friends (says his mom) and his mom needs to get away from the debt-collectors (says Bobby). but life in the country brings on more mystery than any of them expect - externally and internally.

Bobby is a 14 year old bad boy. and by bad boy i mean stealing cars and torching them after joyriding with his older pals, using hard drugs, stealing as much as possible, and repeating the events ad nauseum. so while Bobby's mom claims that they are moving to Ennis (the country) to escape the bad influences in his life, he knows that a good chunk of the real reason is so that she can continue to duck the debt collectors knocking on their door.

the relationship between Bobby and his mom is bleak, complicated, and all sorts of teen-angsty with a strong undercurrent of anger. he resents her refusal to tell him who his real dad is, he resents her having Dennis (his 4 year old half-brother), and he resents her forcing them to move out to the country. after stealing a car to go back to Dublin, Bobby is forced into a repayment schedule of working on the neighbors farm. it isn't all that bad really, as there is another guy his age there and the family seems to be well meaning enough. plus, they feed him copious amounts of delicious food and have a house cleaner than he's ever known.

between Bobby trying desperately to get back to Dublin (where his friends won't even see him) and fighting with his mom and working off his debt to the neighbors, some strange things start happening. his little brother Dennis insists he has been seeing a little woman in the middle of the night coming in through the dog flap and that she wants milk and cake to eat. of course, he's only 4 and could be making things up...but the neighbors spill the mystery of the previous owner and his family. making the presence of this imaginary friend just too coincidental for Bobby to ignore.

i picked up this book based on the cover alone - i'll admit that. it's a really spooky and intriguing cover. however, it gave the TOTALLY wrong impression. while there is an element of the supernatural and mystery, the plot is centered around Bobby and his self discovery. his voice felt so authentic that i was grabbed from the first page to hear more of his thoughts and his story.

the motives of the characters are never totally clear, which i appreciated. the neighbors are the classic happy family - but they also served as a source of goodness that Bobby needed in his life, even though he didn't realize it. they illustrated the power of purpose and filled a void in his world.

the conclusion of the book, while sensible, totally fell flat for me. and, after poking around at other reviews, i realize i'm not alone in feeling split over Thompson's writing. particularly the epilogue. it felt clunky, abrupt, and a bit puzzling. but even that didn't detract from the rest of the story for me. i really connected with Bobby's voice and was committed to hearing him out. i think having him as the narrator really helped this novel along and helped me to overlook the holes in the plot, the late character twists, and the less than fulfilling conclusion.

fave quote: "It wasn't because of him that I stayed. I think it was just because there was something happening. Even if it was only digging a drain or stacking bales or shoveling shit, it was still something happening. At home, nothing ever happened." (145)

fix er up: i feel like i shouldn't like this book as much as i did. there were so many glaring literary flaws and clunky plot points...but again, Bobby's voice saved this and made it a solid read.

title: Creature of the Night
author: Kate Thompson
genre: Coming of Age, Mystery, Problem Novel

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

3 comments:

  1. i want to know more about the woman who climbs through doggy door flaps. i hope she's a nutter.

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  2. i want to know more about her too, unfortunately. that sub-plot felt a bit underdeveloped or awkward when paired with the other half of the plot.

    i think that she is meant to remain a mystery and an unknown character. sigh...

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  3. you should write an alternate take on the story from the perspective of the dog flap lady. i think that is a good idea.

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