Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REVIEW: CREED by Trisha Leaver & Lindsay Currie

Title: Creed
Authors: Trisha Leaver & Lindsay Currie
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: November 8, 2014
Genres: YA, Horror, Suspense
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 2/5


Three went in. Three came out. None even a shadow of who they once were.

When their car breaks down, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike walk through a winter storm to take refuge in a nearby town called Purity Springs. When they arrive, the emergency sirens are blaring and the small farming town seems abandoned. With no other shelter, they spend the night in an empty house.

But they soon discover that not everything in Purity Springs is as it seems. When the town's inhabitants suddenly appear the next morning, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of the charismatic leader, Elijah Hawkins, who plans to make Dee his new wife. Elijah's son, Joseph, offers to help them escape . . . but the price of his help may be more than Dee and her friends can bear.


Let’s see. The book summary promised a creepy deserted town run by a crazy religious zealot. It actually promises other elements too, but these were the two that got me excited to read this novel that is alleged to be a “horror”.  Now keep in mind that I am a true and hardcore fanatic about horror books and movies, so my expectations of anything purported as horror will always be exceptionally high. I’m not so much into anything gore-ish, and I can’t stand slasher movies; but give me something with a good story that scares the bejeesus out of me and messes with my mind, and I am thrilled!

So, Creed, where oh where did you go wrong?

Allow me to count the ways.

First I want to say a little something about abuse. If you’re going to create a past for your protagonist in which she was abused by her father, at least make it believable and write it with empathy. Abuse is serious, people. Although I haven’t suffered abuse in my childhood, my heart breaks for those who have and still do. It’s not just something that is there to be used as entertainment value for authors to make their characters seem deep and realistic and to win the sympathy of a reader. If you don’t have firsthand experience of any form of abuse, at least do your research or talk to people that have been in a similar situation as the background you want to create for your character. Dee, our MC in this novel, is completely unbelievable and comes across as a permanently angry, callous *itch, which sometimes made me think she’s even more unbalanced than Elijah. It wasn’t easy for me to feel sympathy for her as her background didn’t relate to the plot in any way. I mean you don’t have to come from an abusive past to be terrified when stuck in the same situation Dee and her friends were. She was mean and selfish and blamed everything on her father, but what put me off most about her was the fact that she would sacrifice anyone (except Luke) without a second thought to save herself. She whined and overreacted and behaved throughout the entire book like a frightened dog waiting to be kicked. I’m talking about ALL. THE. TIME! Her outburst were emotionally taxing and got tired really fast. The rest of the characters aren’t even on my radar because their personalities were as flat and bland as they come, except maybe for Elijah, whom I’ll be discussing next.

In my opinion, any true fan of horror knows that a religious zealot can be scary as hell if penned with believability. Unfortunately, Elijah isn’t scary at all. He’s cruel (in a cheap slasher movie kind of way) and has some anger issues, but his temper tantrums only came across as immature. In one of Amanda Hocking’s novels, Hollowland, there are a few chapters in which the main characters are held captive by a religious cult. Now THAT was scary. It wasn’t an entire book, just a few chapters, but it had the effect I was expecting from this book, but didn’t get. In fact, Creed didn’t even come close to having that terrifying effect on me which one would expect from an entire book dedicated to the horrors a zealot can inflict on his followers.

To create the ultimate religious fanatic you need to make him patient, charismatic (no, not only for two paragraphs), forceful in a way that would inspire fear in the reader without using cheap horror movie tactics. If he must have toddler tantrums, let him have his fits a few chapters later when it’s really necessary. Also, you need to make Mr Evil Cult Leader so convincing that I can – for a moment there – get swept up in his madness, or at the very least allow me to have a little moral conflict. Make me understand why his people would follow him blindly, and why it’s not any small matter to just get away from such a leader. Creed fails with flying colors to do any of that. There was so much potential here, such a great idea, but incredibly poorly executed. So by the way, bloodletting is just gory; it doesn’t so much mess with my mind as with my stomach. Plus, Dee was so rebellious and outraged the entire time that I wanted to shake her at some point and tell her to shut up so I can just try and understand what the story is with Elijah and his faithful followers and why they’re blindly following his dumbass ways. But with Dee shouting and screaming the whole time, I couldn’t wait for this book to end.

What also frustrated me were sentences like this one:

I got out of the bed, began the frantic search for my clothes. I wanted my shoes. I wanted a pair of jeans. I wanted to walk out of this place and back to Purity Springs so I could haul Elijah Hawkins dead body back here and make him tell the truth.

Did you get that, folks? She is going to make a dead man talk.

And then you have the cherry on the cake. The ending. Blunt, some things left unexplained, and a much too convenient conclusion. If Creed was a movie, it would’ve easily been classified under B-rated. The beginning was promising when these three kids got into town and discovered everything abandoned, no fuel, a dilapidated graveyard, and then finding the books outlining different sorts of punishments for kids as young as twelve-months-old. But once Joseph and Elijah come into the picture, everything falls flat and turns into an extravaganza of ridiculous and unbelievable.  

Also, the timeline was really messed-up. I’m not even going to go into that other than to say I found it laughable when Dee reflected on the DAYS she spent held captive by Elijah, when in fact it was barely three days and at most she spent maybe two hours or less in his presence.

I would not in a million years recommend this book to any true fan of horror, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who isn’t a fan of horror and who is afraid of their own shadow. The only shining points for me in this entire ordeal were that it’s a quick read that can be finished in a day, and, as far as I can tell, it’s not the first book in a series.

* Quote was taken from an uncorrected e-galley sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley. I received this eARC in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Trisha Leaver resides on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather excitable black lab. Her YA Horror novel CREED is coming in Fall of 2014 from Flux. Her YA Contemporary THE SECRETS WE KEEP coming in the Winter of 2015 from FSG/Macmillan.

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Lindsay Currie lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and one adorable, but irreverent Bullmastiff named Sam.

She is a proud member of SCBWI, The YA Scream Queens, The Horror Writers Association and OneFourKidLit, a community of authors with debuts upcoming in 2014. Her debut novel, CREED (co-authored with Trisha Leaver), releases from Flux on November 8, 2014 and a second stand-alone novel, HARDWIRED releases Fall 2015.

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