ARC Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Saturday, 18 July 2015
The Creeping, by Alexandra Sirowy
Publication: August 18, 2015, by Simon and Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Horror, Thriller, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.
Now Stella is seventeen, and she's over it. She's the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it's her small town's ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She's got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.
Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.
And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

My Thoughts:

My guilty pleasure? Horror stories. And why am I guilty? That was a lie. HORROR READS ARE SIMPLY MY PLEASURE MY FRIENDS! When I was given an opportunity to review The Creeping, I took it instantly without any look-backs or even scanning the summary. The creepy cover was all I needed. And then I read the summary and panicked because of its craziness. The story even reminds me of this Polish folktale horror short story about two girls picking raspberries when one disappears as well. (But that one ends differently... WAY DIFFERENTLY.)

The Creeping is exactly what its title describes: IT'S A FUCKING CREEPY STORY. After reading, I know that I'll never set foot in a forest for as long as I'll live without a bunch of companions who are leading us through a safe area of the forest/town. Stella's wickedness and her trying to search for answers scared the hell out of me. At the same time, it's a read that you won't be able to put down until the 436 pages blasted through your head and you've finally become human again. I'm thinking of the monsters now...

"I want it out of me: everything I've held back, every word I've ever spoken about Jeanie, every bit of me that exists because of that day. There have to be parts, right? Parts born out of whatever I saw without me even knowing that's where they came from. I don't want them anymore. I plow onward, certain that if I can say everything, then those parts won't have to belong to me." (ARC, page 127)

One clue for you awesome people to guess what this book's mystery eventually leads to? Monsters being freaking human. You know, I expected some kind of fantasy to come out of this, 'The Creeping' being some creature that's only found in folklore and likes girls with strawberry-red hair and doing things to them. I suspected this to be a full-out psychopathic murder investigation where Shane the police officer would help everyone out but Stella would be the one who discovered the truth before he did. That's how it usually is, and although Sirowy used some of those elements to fix her horror-thriller story together, she took her own toll on it too, of course. I never thought that things would end up the way they did, that's for sure.

Stella and Jeanie are practically best friends, alongside their other friends: Sam, Zoe, Daniel and Caleb. They all live in the small town of Savage, where things are known to be peaceful and never with chaos. When Stella and Jeanie go strawberry picking one day, Stella is the only one who returns to Jeanie's front yard, panting and murmuring strange sentences... 255 times. Eleven years later, Stella struggles to remember the past events, and slowly and slowly as the eleventh anniversary has just passed, things begin to become understandable to her. A corpse is found and alongside her new love interest (Sam), she tries to figure out what actually happened and who's next.

This is basically the scariest book I've ever read in terms of thrill. By the end, I felt as if all of my adrenaline was pumped out of me and I was left like a piece of mouldy bread. (Sorry to give you that image.) It was as if I was possessed, honestly. A book hasn't made me feel this way, ever, and although it wasn't the best read in the world, I seriously see its awesomeness full and through. It left me shivering, begging the book gods for more by this debut author, and certainly and absolutely leaving me astonished with the turn the book took.

Sirowy's writing and adding unpredictability into her chapters and words was the most astonishing gift that this book had. She's the queen of horror writing, my friends. The new Stephen King, YA fiction form. These kinds of thrillers need the right kind of writing to scare readers and give them thrill and enjoyment at the same time, and Alexandra definitely had that in-store for us. Plus, take a peek at that creepy cover. You know you want this book if you're already getting doubts. 

I mean, you don't have to be the full-out lover of horror fiction to read this story, like I am. It can be a total new experience for you. But make sure you're ready to be reading under the covers late at night with a flashlight, because you'll never want to see darkness ever again. Or eat strawberries, either. *__* It's not the kind of read that left me scarred or anything (okay, maybe a little) but I kept having to remind myself that it isn't real and all of that. BUT IT CAN BE. And that's why I added the contemporary genre to my list here. It's about a murderer, not a monster that you'll only see in movies, writing and your dreams. This shows how people can be so gullible and naïve.

"I've seen what happens if you spend too much time thinking about what hides in the dark. You become a monster yourself. You become a lonely old woman in the woods with stories; a killer who sees his victim everywhere; a boy who'd rather believe in monsters than live." (ARC, page 436)

I spent so much time overthinking darkness and evilness and all of that after reading. I almost peed my pants. Sirowy's writing is so real, and if I actually read about this story and found that it was real, I honestly could believe it. It's like an awful (by awful I mean horrifying) story off the news that people would lock their doors with the best locks possible after hearing about. Hiding their kids, never going out in public. It talks about the capability of humans and awful we can be. But at the same time, mental illness affected the characters in this book (at least, some of them) and that's the case in many stories, real or fiction, and I believe that it's no excuse. If you keep believing in something impossible and there's no proof, you'll go mad, trust me.

This book's flaw was its heroine, Stella. Her story wasn't believable. How can she not remember anything from the event that she faced when she was six? Or afterwards, a few hours later? All of the sudden when the mystery's resolution was given, she suddenly remembered everything and it all made sense to her. Talk about perfect coincidental timing, right? And in these books, I hate protagonists who think they can go all Nancy Drew on the situation and solve everything. Meh.

You'd think that life goes on after unanswered tragedies. It doesn't. And it still didn't after this book's ending, which I adored. I mean, I was shocked, thrown around and left completely mad. (Mad as in crazed up.) Sirowy is the best debut author of 2015 for me and I'm so glad that I got a chance to read this novel early. The romance was a side-track of the book that went so perfectly with the story and even left me kind of unsure of what was yet to come. But all in all, everything simply went together like peanut butter and jelly. There are some crunchy, harder to feel moments, but it's a definite awesome 4 star read that I'd recommend to all. Just make sure that you don't go believing in monsters, because you'll see what can happen.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some good horror-thriller stories like this? I don't really like the pure detective one with just a plain murder. WHAT ABOUT THE FORESTS AND WEIRD STUFF? THE HEADLESS CATS? I'm not creepy at all.


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