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BOOK REVIEW: The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich

| 20 October 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich

September 2016
Paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Horror



‘I want to tell you a story about those woods out there. A true story.’
I glanced up from my sleepy haze.
‘You must never, never go into Python Wood,’ she whispered, making sure she had Nori’s full attention. ‘Python wood is a bad, bad place. Long ago, something bad came out of it. A man, of sorts.’
I frowned. This wasn’t exactly my idea of a soothing bed-time fable.
‘He was more of a… monster.’
‘Aunty Cath – I don’t think-‘
‘Shh!’ Her head snapped in my direction. ‘Let me finish. You need to hear this as well, Silla. A monster. He did terrible things. And then he returned to the woods. He’s still in there, waiting for young girls to go wandering so he can capture them. So he can tear them up and eat their flesh from their-‘
She looked at me with dagger eyes. And then she relaxed and smiled, turning back to Nori. ‘Well.’ She tapped Nori’s nose gently. ‘The Creeper Man won’t get you if you just stay away from the woods.’
Nori was staring up at Cath’s chin. Then she looked at me. But we came through the woods.
Cath sensed the movement. ‘No need to be afraid.’
‘We came here through the woods,’ I said, winking at Nori.

After their abusive father takes things way too far, Silla and her little sister Nori run away. They sneak onto a train from London, journey through the creepy woods in a storm, and turn up on the doorstep of Lu Baume, a manor that has been in the family for generations. A manor that is rumoured to be cursed, run by an aunt who is, quite possibly, crazy.

And then there are the trees… moving closer every time Silla looks away.

Bullshit. I don’t say it, I wish I hadn’t said anything. Instead, I say, ‘I don’t remember there being so many trees when we first came here. Nori was only four. They’re assholes.’
‘They’re just trees.’
I look up, not at him, but beyond him, at the trees. I know they’re watching us, laughing at my distress.

There’s also a presence in the house that Silla can’t see. She hears a voice in the night, strange noises, and she feels like she’s being watched. But little sister Nori sees more than she lets on.

She doesn’t see me. I tug on her sleeve.
There is a flash of a different monster in her eyes and I shrink back. I don’t like it when she looks like Daddy. I look over at the tall, smiling man in the corner, but Silla doesn’t seem to mind him staring at us, even though he has no eyes, so I just go back to being very, very still.

As the trees creep in and Silla begins to feel more and more like she’s losing her mind, like her (Crazy) Aunt Cath, one can’t help but wonder if they’ll make it out of this situation before the Creeper Man gets them… Unless, of course, there’s something more sinister at play here.


Like Kurtagich’s previous novel, The Dead HouseThe Creeper Man does have a certain epistolary feel about it. There are snippets of thoughts from various characters, rhymes, and diary entries separate to the central narrative, among other things, but in this instance it was a little harder to see how it had all come together.

While her style does hint at a certain type of creepiness, and while it does do a good job of keeping the reader guessing for the most part, this novel never quite goes over the edge from creepy into the “hiding under your covers” or “sleeping with the lights on” level of fear. While still largely enjoyable and showing a certain level of skill, this story does unfortunately fall in to the camp of “been there, done that” with a plot twist that has been done time and time again in books and movies. The way it was approached was a little different, but in the end the song remains pretty much the same.

All in all, this was an engaging read, and I am glad to have another Dawn Kurtagich book to add to my shelf, but, when re-reading, I will be far more likely to reach for The Dead House over The Creeper Man.

Kurtagich remains on my list of must read authors, and I look forward to seeing what she offers up next.



Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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