The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Book review: ‘The Creeper Man’ by Dawn Kurtagich

on October 25, 2016


The Creeper Man (also published as And the Trees Crept In). Dawn Kurtagich. Orion Children’s Publishing. July 2016.

There’s a man in the trees, a man with no eyes, but still he watches, that’s the surprise. Stay away from the woods, it couldn’t be clearer, but the trees are creeping nearer and nearer…

Beware the creeper man.

I picked up this wonderful book at YALC, where I was lucky enough to meet Dawn Kurtagich herself and get my copy signed. I’d wanted to read this book ever since I first heard about it, but I couldn’t have predicted just how deeply in love with it I would fall. I adore horror and psychological thriller books, but so many of them lack the re-readability factor – once you know which scares are lurking around which corners, they tend to lose the magic they once possessed. But this book is different… it’s sprinkled with a far more powerful magic. This novel is dark and creepy, but it’s also heartbreaking and heartwarming – it’s the kind of book that stays with you, and I can’t wait to read it again.

The story follows a girl named Silla, and her mute younger sister Nori, as they flee their abusive father in London, running away to live with their ‘Crazy’ Aunt Cath in her rambling manor house ‘La Baume’, next to the dark and mysterious Python Wood.

Despite her eccentric, hermit-like existence, and her seemingly irrational fear of Python Wood, Cath is warm and welcoming, and as the girls settle into their new life they begin to feel safe and loved for the first time in their lives. But the feeling of safety is not destined to last…

From the day Cath completely flips when Nori wanders too close to the border of Python Wood, everything begins to change. Cath descends into a pacing madness, confining herself to the attic, leaving Silla and Nori to fend for themselves. With a rapidly decreasing supply of food, the surrounding land failing to yield any crops, and no neighbours to help the girls out for miles around, their health slowly begins to deteriorate as they continue to go hungry, day after day.  Feeling like she might as well be all alone in the world, Silla also starts to absorb and inherit Cath’s fears about Python Wood and the ‘Creeper Man’ who supposedly lurks there… but is he really coming for them, or is Silla simply losing her mind like Cath?

This book was thoroughly creepy, filled with a prickling unease from the beginning which builds and builds with Silla’s dawning realisation that something is very wrong with La Baume, and the woods surrounding the house which seem to have a consciousness of their own. But even more so than the sinister woods, and the creepy idea of the Creeper Man, it was the plausible-in-reality parts of the girls’ story which scared me the most…. The idea of slowly starving to death, with nobody to come and save you is, quite frankly, terrifying.

This novel becomes increasingly surreal and weird as the story unfolds, which is something I absolutely adored, but I also adored the warmth and relatability the characters brought to the tale, amidst all the creepy strangeness. Silla was a courageous character, despite her fears, and I admired that she was constantly facing the things she was most terrified of to protect her little sister. What I loved most about her characterisation, however, was that she wasn’t perfect – she was prickly, she struggled, she took her fears out on the people she loved, she kept secrets, and she wrestled with guilt. She was flawed and complex, and that’s why I found her so relatable, and her surreal experiences so believable.

I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally blown away by this novel, but sections of it had me in floods of tears, and others filled my heart with warm and fuzzy feelings. With all of this, plus the unsettling creeps which grew and grew into full on heebie-jeebies, this book left me a total mess, in the best possible way.

I would recommend this book to everyone, even those who don’t normally read horror, because it’s quite simply a fantastic story. It’s beautifully told, fairytale-like in places, with creepy little poems at the beginning of every chapter, passages where certain words are highlighted to reveal secret messages, and all kinds of other awesome unique details like that. This book was put together with so much thought and care, and I dare you not to fall in love with it the way I did. The ending was so clever, so perfectly executed, and socked me with so many emotions that I couldn’t give this book anything less than five stars.


17 responses to “Book review: ‘The Creeper Man’ by Dawn Kurtagich

  1. Wonderful review, thank you – it’s now on my TBR😊

  2. Eek. Too scary for my blood. You are a far braver woman than I!

  3. I finished this recently too and really enjoyed it! I’m glad you did too. I loved how atmospheric and poetic it was. The broken book entries were my favourites. It’s so awesome that you have a signed copy. Great review 😀

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks Lauren! I’m so glad you loved it too. I agree that the writing was very atmospheric, I almost wished I’d saved it for Halloween as it would have been the perfect book for today 🙂 The broken book entries were awesome, such a clever idea. Have you read Dawn Kurtagich’s other book The Dead House?

  4. Brilliant review! Just wanted to let you know that we nominated you for the versatile blogger award 🙂 Hope that’s ok – we really love your blog!

  5. Lectito says:

    I’ve seen the cover of this one around and been absolutely intrigued by it (so sinister) and you’re review has sold me on the book! I love a creepy, atmospheric read. 🙂

  6. Hmm it is rare for a review to get me this hyped to reading the material. Thank you! 😊 I just hope I can find one in our local bookstore…

  7. Fabulous review! I love how creepy and eerie this sounds – definitely going on my TBR.

  8. thebookraven says:

    I want to read this book so bad! I read the dead house by Dawn and I loved it! The creeper man seems like it is a great read 🙂

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