Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Mr B's Reading Year - Hideous Creatures

In Hideous Creatures, Lister tells the story of Arthur Hallingham who is on the run from his aristocratic family in England, where he had to leave because of some dark occurence – we don't find out the truth until near the end of the novel. He starts out for Africa, before travelling on a slave ship to America, hoping to lose himself in the New World. What transpires goes entirely beyond his worst nightmares, lost in the destructiveness of a native medicine man, Shelo, and another companion, Flora, daughter of an outlaw. The trio journey through the wilderness, as Shelo's true intentions come to the fore...

There are two interlinking stories: one starting from Arthur's passage on the ship, moving to the present, and the other starting in the present and moving forward. This could have been confusing, but Lister handled the change of time effectively without having to resort to dates etc, which is quite refreshing. Despite this, I did find the plot a little hard to follow at times, but I believe this was intentional: Lister wants the reader to be as in the dark as Arthur is.

The prose is beautiful and well constructed, but my main problem was that I just didn't really like Arthur very much! I'm not sure that we are meant to like him exactly, but his cowardice and general uselessness really grated on me! Flora, I liked, and Shelo was scary, as I'm sure was intended.

Overall, a promising début from Lister, and nice to read something a bit different from a young author – not just another apocalyptic teen novel! Thank you Mr B's and Emma!

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