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A riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always t A riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world of their own making, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and their shared world. By the time Annie was in eighth grade, it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half. And then, one day, he disappears. Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered the world they created, and who believes that she's the only one who can bring him back. But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother's disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive. As they follow the lives of Annie, Jamie, and the friends and family around them, acclaimed author Phoebe North weaves an unflinching, unforgettable story of the empty spaces inside all of us, and the devastating sacrifices we make in order to become whole.


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A riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always t A riveting, unexpected, and beautiful contemporary novel about a girl whose brother mysteriously disappears, the family and friends he leaves behind, and the stories—real and imagined—that they tell themselves to fill the empty space. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world of their own making, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and their shared world. By the time Annie was in eighth grade, it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half. And then, one day, he disappears. Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered the world they created, and who believes that she's the only one who can bring him back. But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother's disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive. As they follow the lives of Annie, Jamie, and the friends and family around them, acclaimed author Phoebe North weaves an unflinching, unforgettable story of the empty spaces inside all of us, and the devastating sacrifices we make in order to become whole.

30 review for Strange Creatures

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phoebe

    This book is mine. I lived it. Shrinking into myself in high school, doodling in the notebook margins, not telling anyone the secrets I was living, dreaming of an escape. This book is mine. I wrote it. Starting with the imaginary kingdom we built in the woods in ninth grade, when we were too old to build such things--much less speak of them aloud. This book is mine. I gave it to myself. When I thought everything was lost, especially books, I stayed up all night with my daughter sleeping next to m This book is mine. I lived it. Shrinking into myself in high school, doodling in the notebook margins, not telling anyone the secrets I was living, dreaming of an escape. This book is mine. I wrote it. Starting with the imaginary kingdom we built in the woods in ninth grade, when we were too old to build such things--much less speak of them aloud. This book is mine. I gave it to myself. When I thought everything was lost, especially books, I stayed up all night with my daughter sleeping next to me, determined to finally write the novel that had been coiled inside me all these years--a book as strange and as beautiful as I was. The story of How We Get Out. If I ever faltered, then it was Annie, Vidya, and James who showed me the way. This book is mine. It contains (view spoiler)[sexual assault, child abduction, realistic depictions of grief and the therapeutic process, a paracosm, sibling rivalry, closeted queer sexuality, suburban hometown drama, skin picking, pirates, stream of consciousness, interfaith families, feral children, and exactly one magical element--no, I won't tell you which. (hide spoiler)] Every single person I know who has read it has told me they've cried. That's okay. And it's okay if you cry. I cried, too. This book is mine. Was mine. Because I'm done with it. Now, this book is yours.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    5/5 stars I can't remember the last time I swore in a review, but as I'm sitting here in my puddle of raw emotions I don't think I have any other way of putting it. This book was fucking brilliant. It's a deeply personal and honest depiction of childhood trauma, grief, paracosm and the cost of an almost symbiotic relationship between a brother and sister. It's also a version of the story I've been looking for for years... I hope to write a proper review after I've collected my thoughts a bit. For 5/5 stars I can't remember the last time I swore in a review, but as I'm sitting here in my puddle of raw emotions I don't think I have any other way of putting it. This book was fucking brilliant. It's a deeply personal and honest depiction of childhood trauma, grief, paracosm and the cost of an almost symbiotic relationship between a brother and sister. It's also a version of the story I've been looking for for years... I hope to write a proper review after I've collected my thoughts a bit. For now, all I want to say is that this is my favourite book of the year so far, and I want it to make its way to any of you who need it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    I can't stop thinking about it, it was perfection. Strange Creatures is an expansive novel of struggles with mental health, queer love (sapphic desire), and adolescent trauma. It was everything I didn't know I needed as a queer nonbinary reader, it was poetic catharsis. Be careful, you might find yourself crying on the floor. Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story dedicated to all those that feel forgotten. Siblings Annie and Jamie are thick as thieves, as they create a Terabithian world in I can't stop thinking about it, it was perfection. Strange Creatures is an expansive novel of struggles with mental health, queer love (sapphic desire), and adolescent trauma. It was everything I didn't know I needed as a queer nonbinary reader, it was poetic catharsis. Be careful, you might find yourself crying on the floor. Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story dedicated to all those that feel forgotten. Siblings Annie and Jamie are thick as thieves, as they create a Terabithian world in the woods behind their house, named Gumlea. This world is an escape from society and the gendered expectations that come with coming of age. Gumlea is a place of witches, pirates, and sirens. It is lush and atmospheric and has that mystical magic that can only be found in a child's mind. One day, Jamie is gone, and Annie refuses to believe he has left without her. As her family's lives move on, she knows that he has made it to Gumlea, even if her therapist says otherwise. But she has to ask herself, why would Jamie leave her behind. With beautiful prose, and experimental writing, this upper YA novel will satisfy and delight fans of Her Body and Other Parties and The Last True Poets of the Sea.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sage Agee

    I’ll never be the same

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    1.5/5 Link to TikTok explaining the plot: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdDJaA8M/ Strange Creatures follows a pair of siblings who have drifted apart over the years. Whilst Jamie, the older brother, seems to have moved on from the boy he was and the childhood him and his sister shared, Annie seems to still be very attached to the past and has hope that Jamie will one day return to how he used to be. However, things take a turn for the worse when one day Jamie mysteriously disappears, seeming to have run 1.5/5 Link to TikTok explaining the plot: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdDJaA8M/ Strange Creatures follows a pair of siblings who have drifted apart over the years. Whilst Jamie, the older brother, seems to have moved on from the boy he was and the childhood him and his sister shared, Annie seems to still be very attached to the past and has hope that Jamie will one day return to how he used to be. However, things take a turn for the worse when one day Jamie mysteriously disappears, seeming to have run away without a word. I'm not really sure what I expected going into this novel but it wasn't this. Strange Creatures is a contemporary novel with fantasy elements interwoven in the narrative at the beginning of each chapter, telling a whole new story, which I loved. However it does get a little confusing as you don't learn until well into the book the significance of it. On the whole, I felt that this was a very slow book, though particularly at the beginning so it took a while to get into. I also couldn't connect to any of the characters because they - especially Annie - were generally so annoying and unlikeable. I could never understand her reasonings and found myself getting very frustrated, to the point where I had to close the book and walk away. Also as the book is told from multiple perspectives, the writing style was kind of weird, specifically for Jamie's character which had me rereading several pages because I was so confused. What the characters experienced is definitely heartbreaking and shocking, but I really didn't feel anything whilst reading about it, mostly because of the lack of connection between me and the characters (or maye I'm just very coldhearted lol). Overall I think this book had a nice idea, but the execution of it fell a little flat for me. TW: violence, rape, abuse, kidnapping, abduction, assault, neglect(?)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sakina Carter

    This is going to be a hard one for me to review. First if this is categorized as YA, this is not a YA book. Second, this is not a fantasy book, while it has some fantasy elements, it is also not a fantasy book, it is a contemporary book and a dark one at that. This book is told from three different perspectives, Annie, James/Jamie and Vidya. Jamie and Annie are brother and sister born exactly one year apart. Jamie is not like typical boys, he likes to write fantasy stories, poetry and read, he is n This is going to be a hard one for me to review. First if this is categorized as YA, this is not a YA book. Second, this is not a fantasy book, while it has some fantasy elements, it is also not a fantasy book, it is a contemporary book and a dark one at that. This book is told from three different perspectives, Annie, James/Jamie and Vidya. Jamie and Annie are brother and sister born exactly one year apart. Jamie is not like typical boys, he likes to write fantasy stories, poetry and read, he is not into sports and things like that and Annie is not a typical girl, she does not dressing up and tea parties, she likes to play in the mud and follow her brother. Because they don't fit in, they make up a fantasy world in the woods behind their house called Gumlea, they have their rules and they spend their days having fun. When Jamie turns 11, he starts to change, he is moody, he doesn't want to play in Gumlea anymore, he is friends with the popular kids, he is into sports and he has a girlfriend. For two years, the two of them drift apart and one day when Jamie is 13, Annie sees him step backwards into the woods behind their house and even though he hasn't believed in Gumlea in a long time, Annie is slightly happy that he is going there, and then Jamie disappears..... Two years later we have Vidya (Jamie's girlfriend before he disappeared) telling the story and we see how she and Annie become close and eventually start a relationship. I didn't have a problem with the two of them being together, in grief we see stuff like this all the time. During this time, I felt for Annie because she was obsessed with getting Jamie back, she was convinced he was in Gumlea and that because Jamie had shared it with Vidya that she could help her get him back. Then we have Jamie's point of view. This is the part of the story that I struggled with. I am not doubting that Jamie was at one point a victim, he was betrayed and manipulated by someone he trusted and held captive, but..... I didn't buy Jamie's reason for staying, maybe because when we finally gets his point of view he doesn't seem like a captive. I understand that this is supposed to be a YA book so we don't know what he went through during those first six months and for me that took away from the story. Also, I never got the impression that his father would have an issue with him being bisexual, maybe that should have been fleshed out more considering that one was of the main reasons his captive was able to keep him subdued in the beginning. I will always wonder if Jamie left because He brought that other boy home, and if he left because he knew what was going to happen to that boy and he wanted to help him or if it was another reason altogether. I was happy that Annie was finally able to let all that shit go and move on and have some semblance of happiness. This was a good book but I struggled with believing Jamie and as creepy as it would have been, I would have liked it better if he said he stayed because just for a while he wanted to be free and do shit he didn't think his father would approve of.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Librow0rm Christine

    Harper 360 / Harper Collins gifted me an arc of Strange Creatures by Phoebe North and this is my totally honest and unbiased review. On first starting this book, it felt like I was diving into another fantasy. This time based in the world of Gumlea ruled by a wicked king to whom tithes must be paid by the feral children, ongoing battles are fought against mermaids and other fantastical creatures, and against whom the Emperata Annit and the nameless boy fight. However, before I’m totally sucked int Harper 360 / Harper Collins gifted me an arc of Strange Creatures by Phoebe North and this is my totally honest and unbiased review. On first starting this book, it felt like I was diving into another fantasy. This time based in the world of Gumlea ruled by a wicked king to whom tithes must be paid by the feral children, ongoing battles are fought against mermaids and other fantastical creatures, and against whom the Emperata Annit and the nameless boy fight. However, before I’m totally sucked into Gumlea, I’m pulled back into the real world by Annie and her older brother Jamie; Born exactly 1 year apart, the two have been inseparable since Annie’s birth and between them created Gumlea. Gumlea is their playground, their escape from reality and all the brightness and harshness of the real world. As they grow older, moving towards adolescence the age difference and life begins to build a separation between them, but it’s nothing that Gumlea can’t help them resolve, until one day Jamie disappears, and Annie is left behind. Annie left behind, retreats into Gumlea, convinced that Jamie is there and she needs to rescue him, convinced that she just needs to find the right magical formula to help him escape. Meanwhile, she still has to live in the real world and face the realities of adolescence and the loss of her brother. In Strange Creatures Phoebe North focuses on the characters of Annie, Jamie and latterly Vidya - Jamie’s first girlfriend. The book is predominantly character led and I was totally drawn into each of their very distinct lives. These strange creatures are tied together within this haunting tale of lost innocence, lost and found love, and lost youth. This is a story that will stay with you and will come back to you at the least expected moment. It brings depth, insight, loss, peaceful and reflective moments, and takes a journey to self-acceptance that is ultimately very rewarding.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vee

    [ARC Provided by Harper360, my review is unbiased] Wordpress Blog | Twitter I was really hoping this book could be what I've been looking for after I finished The Light Between Worlds, a book that was about children who went to a fantasy kingdom, but when they came home everything changed, and one of them went missing. However unlike Light, Strange Creatures is purely a contemporary story. The problem I had with it being a contemporary when I was hoping for more fantasy elements, was the length. At [ARC Provided by Harper360, my review is unbiased] Wordpress Blog | Twitter I was really hoping this book could be what I've been looking for after I finished The Light Between Worlds, a book that was about children who went to a fantasy kingdom, but when they came home everything changed, and one of them went missing. However unlike Light, Strange Creatures is purely a contemporary story. The problem I had with it being a contemporary when I was hoping for more fantasy elements, was the length. At over 500 pages, this book is a commitment, and I dig have to slog through it at times. It's a great story, told from three POVs, and discusses topics of growing up and traumatic events that are rarely seen in YA. But it was just. So. Long. I loved the queer rep in this book. Unapologetic bisexuals, women of colour, lesbians and later on, who I believe to be a non binary character, that was very well written. This talks about puberty and sex and the anxiety of seeing yourself growing up unashamedly, which was refreshing. I loved that was followed Annie and Vidya as they grew up, and Annie's struggles with letting go of the fantasy world that her and Jamie created, as she is convinced that he is trapped in Gumlea. It was also brutally honest about teenage relationships, and showed that your first love doesn't have to be your forever love in YA.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    So beautiful and amazing!!! This is a must-read for any lover of YA fiction!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    i'm so dazed i haven't been this sucked into a physical book in ages i -- Phoebe North is a genius. i'm so dazed i haven't been this sucked into a physical book in ages i -- Phoebe North is a genius.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Wolfe

    Strange Creatures is hand-delivered for all current and former “weird kids” who have ever escaped to the magic of fictional worlds. I loved this book and wrote a full review of it for theyoungfolks.com. Strange Creatures is hand-delivered for all current and former “weird kids” who have ever escaped to the magic of fictional worlds. I loved this book and wrote a full review of it for theyoungfolks.com.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    I initially marked this "To Read" because I got a Bridge to Terabithia vibe from the synopsis. Maybe with a touch of The Museum of Us mixed in. All this was good. Made me excited for the book. But the more I read, the more this, instead, started to feel a little too much like Too Far, a book I prefer to forget about because it made me extremely uncomfortable in some very, very negative ways. Even gave me a nightmare or two. *shudder* Had I NOT read the later book, I may have been able to read and I initially marked this "To Read" because I got a Bridge to Terabithia vibe from the synopsis. Maybe with a touch of The Museum of Us mixed in. All this was good. Made me excited for the book. But the more I read, the more this, instead, started to feel a little too much like Too Far, a book I prefer to forget about because it made me extremely uncomfortable in some very, very negative ways. Even gave me a nightmare or two. *shudder* Had I NOT read the later book, I may have been able to read and enjoy Strange Creatures, but as things stand I'm going to mark it as DNF and forget about it and the awful book it reminded me of.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carina Olsen

    I don't even know where to begin with this book. I requested it along with several other ARCs from the publisher, yet I had not really read anything about it. Just thought it looked cute. Then this was the only book I got. And I saw how huge it was. And contemporary. So I got scared that I would not like this at all. But I was wrong. Because this book was pretty amazing most of the time. Heartbreaking and evil a lot of the time too. And a few things I did not like at all. I'm giving it three star I don't even know where to begin with this book. I requested it along with several other ARCs from the publisher, yet I had not really read anything about it. Just thought it looked cute. Then this was the only book I got. And I saw how huge it was. And contemporary. So I got scared that I would not like this at all. But I was wrong. Because this book was pretty amazing most of the time. Heartbreaking and evil a lot of the time too. And a few things I did not like at all. I'm giving it three stars. It was a four, until certain things at the ending that I did not like at all. But oh. I'm glad that I was wrong about this book. As I ended up liking it. I will begin by saying that the writing was pretty much perfect. Which has so much to say for me when it comes to reading. I had no trouble connecting to this story and these characters. I liked getting to know them. Contemporary books are not always my thing. I don't like the whole school thing and people living in our world. Which was very much the case with this story. School, which I did not like. References to popular books, which I still did not like, haha. But I did not mind all of this too much. Though it's just not for me. But what was for me was the characters and getting to know them. The book begins with Annie and her point of view. I thought for a time it would be only her view of the story. But that was not the case. I liked the others, but not as much. This book tells the story of Annie and her brother, Jamie. He is one year older than her. And they have been close ever since she was born. Always being together, always having fun. They made up their own world, called Gumlea. It was a world they had in the forest not far from their house. Annie could never really tell if it was truly real or not. Annie and Jamie spent so much time together as children. But then it stopped, when he became a teenager. When he got new friends and didn't spend time with Annie more. This book is told in a weird way, to be honest. It is a book told about Annie growing up. It begins when she is very small. And continues that way for a long time, her slowly getting older. We get to see so much of her up to age fourteen, when Jamie disappears. He is just suddenly gone. And no one can find him or know what happened to him. Their whole family went into such grief, which was hard to read about. But written well too, I think. I did not really like their parents. They were not nice and treated their kids badly. But I did like Annie. At least for a long time, until near the end of the book. Sigh. Getting to know her and Jamie was so interesting to read about. I hated reading about how they fell away from each other. How they started not talking to each other. It was so rude. They both had issues and problems, but we only learned about Annie at first. This was very much a character book. A little fantasy, which was so great to read about. Wish there had been more. It is a book about Annie growing up and changing into an adult. We also get a point of view from Vidya. When she starts dating Annie. And how all that goes down. I thought that their romance was sweet. Despite being fully rushed and them not really having that much in common. Except for the missing Jamie, whom Vidya had been together with for over a year before he disappeared. And now she's with Annie. It was a little weird, but I'm glad that time had passed before it happened. I just wish Annie had treated her better. I did like Vidya's parents, though. Vidya was loving. There is very much to say about this book. And my review is all kinds of long, but I just could not stop writing. And yet I still have not said all that I want to. There was so much that I could connect to in this book. I could connect to being different, like Annie and Jamie. And so much else too. I could not connect to being gay, or her troubles with that, but it was so good to read about. There is religion in this book too. Not for me, but written well. The characters were all different and I liked that a lot. Thought it was great. Strange Creatures was such a difficult book for me. It was strange and lovely and heartbreaking. I grew to truly care for the characters. I wanted to know more about Jamie most of all. I liked the writing so much. I wanted to know more about their fantasy world, about their stories together. It was a little too much family drama for me, too much school drama too. The time was moving so slow most of the time, which was fully annoying, yet I liked just reading about their lives even so. But yeah. It was slow and boring at times. And I did have a few issues with this book too. I did not really like Vidya, and it broke my heart how she was kind of being used by both siblings at different times. She deserved better, despite me not liking her fully. I did not like who Annie was near the ending of the book. I did not like how she treated one person, how she did not talk to this person, did not care, did not help. For so many years even. What. I am not forgiving that. And it hurt. I wish it has not been written that way. So yeah. Not really a fan of the ending. I will not say what happens near the end. Just that it was a shocking thing. And it lasted for years, so many years went by. It was the most heartbreaking thing, getting to read about a third point of view in this book. It was only for a little while, but it was what broke me most and what I also liked most about this book. But when things should have been better after, they only got worse and worse and worse. And I could not stand that. Not at all. Wish the ending had been different. So, so much. Still. It was not all bad. Big thank you to the publisher, Harper360YA, for sending me this gorgeous ARC to read and review. I am glad that I gave it a chance. It was not really a book for me, and yet I still liked it a whole lot. It did break me, though. As I had not realized how very dark it would be at times too. So yeah. Be prepared for that before reading. It is dark and there should be trigger warnings. I don't know if the finished copy has those. But despite the darkness, it was a book of small hopes too. And I would recommend that you all read it. --- This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2021...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lexi Roth

    Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an Arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story split into three perspectives. Since the minute Annie was born, she and her brother Jamie were very close with each other. In their free time, they would go into the woods behind their house and create a fantasy world together that they called Gumlea. Once they got to middle school Jamie and Annie grew apart. They barely Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an Arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story split into three perspectives. Since the minute Annie was born, she and her brother Jamie were very close with each other. In their free time, they would go into the woods behind their house and create a fantasy world together that they called Gumlea. Once they got to middle school Jamie and Annie grew apart. They barely even talked anymore. Then one day while Jamie is in 8th grade he goes missing. Annie’s world is completely shaken up as her entire family and town deal with her brothers’ disappearance. This story was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I was drawn into the story at the beginning because it was unlike anything I had ever read before. Though I was engaged near the start, some parts were a bit slow and hard to get through, specifically the sections from Jamie’s point of view. The way his parts were written was very unique but I felt that it made me less interested in them. My favourite perspective would have to be Annies. I did enjoy Vidyas as well, but I felt very connected to Annie and she was the most interesting to read about. While she could be frustrating at some parts, I just really loved her as a character. One of my favourite things about this story was the queer representation. There are so few coming-of-age stories that deal with sexuality that are done well. All three of our main characters are queer and they all have very different journeys in discovering their sexualities. It deals with religion, sex, relationships, and mental health in a very real way that wasn’t glossed over, which was very refreshing. Overall I enjoyed my time reading it, but I just felt that it dragged on a bit too long. It was such a unique story that will definitely stick with me. I recommend this for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Trigger Warnings: rape, abuse, kidnapping, assault, violence, neglect

  15. 5 out of 5

    cait

    i was so shocked to find that i really enjoyed this. it's not something i would ever pick out myself because me and fantasy are far from friends, but i received it in a book subscription box and figured it was worth a go. i'm very glad i did. the fantasy elements were relatively minor in contrast to the main narrative, which is what made it so accessible to me. granted, there were parts that i skim-read, but that was literally all my fault because i was reading a fantasy-based book with no intere i was so shocked to find that i really enjoyed this. it's not something i would ever pick out myself because me and fantasy are far from friends, but i received it in a book subscription box and figured it was worth a go. i'm very glad i did. the fantasy elements were relatively minor in contrast to the main narrative, which is what made it so accessible to me. granted, there were parts that i skim-read, but that was literally all my fault because i was reading a fantasy-based book with no interest in fantasy. the plot as a whole though was amazing - it felt unique and handled hard-hitting issues in what felt like a delicate yet realistic way. at points i genuinely couldn't put the book down because i was so invested in the characters and the way the story was going. i suppose it did feel a bit long as it's really easy to lose interest once the "dilemma"(?) has been resolved (and you've struggled through jamie's pov chapters - fucking hell). i didn't mind too much because by this point i felt quite attached to the characters, but if you aren't particularly a fan of them then the last third or so may be a bit boring. overall vv impressed with this book. lots of great representation and nothing like anything i've read before.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ry Herman

    Wow. Just wow. A glittering jewel of a book, and one that takes an unflinching look at the tangled emotions of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood - as jagged, confused, vibrant, horrible, and sweet as they can be. I very much hope it finds its audience, because it's one of those books that sits between the boundaries of genre. While marketed as YA, it doesn't fit comfortably within its confines. The fantasy elements are subtle and highly ambiguous. The Rift by Nina Allen is perhaps the Wow. Just wow. A glittering jewel of a book, and one that takes an unflinching look at the tangled emotions of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood - as jagged, confused, vibrant, horrible, and sweet as they can be. I very much hope it finds its audience, because it's one of those books that sits between the boundaries of genre. While marketed as YA, it doesn't fit comfortably within its confines. The fantasy elements are subtle and highly ambiguous. The Rift by Nina Allen is perhaps the closest equivalent, maybe with some shades of The Interior Life by Katherine Blake. But the book really stands unique on its own, and for those who have a fondness for stories that blur the boundary lines, this one is something special.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Kozma

    This is a beautiful book filled with prickly characters who are weird and lonely and glorious and desperate to find a way to live in a world that doesn't seem to want them. By the end, I loved the main characters and though the ending wasn't happy, it was happy-ish. One aspect I really loved about the narrative was how the magic--introduced when Annie (pretty much the main character) created imaginary worlds with her brother--was never fully removed from the world, adulthood be damned. By which This is a beautiful book filled with prickly characters who are weird and lonely and glorious and desperate to find a way to live in a world that doesn't seem to want them. By the end, I loved the main characters and though the ending wasn't happy, it was happy-ish. One aspect I really loved about the narrative was how the magic--introduced when Annie (pretty much the main character) created imaginary worlds with her brother--was never fully removed from the world, adulthood be damned. By which I mean this story has magic in it the book never explains away, and I love that.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    This is beautiful, and needs to be on more people's shelves. There's amazing rep, important discussions, beautiful writing, a harrowing, emotional plot...North, you've earned yourself a reader and a fan. If you're looking that this eerie, ubran fantasy, read it! This is your sign! This is beautiful, and needs to be on more people's shelves. There's amazing rep, important discussions, beautiful writing, a harrowing, emotional plot...North, you've earned yourself a reader and a fan. If you're looking that this eerie, ubran fantasy, read it! This is your sign!

  19. 5 out of 5

    여리고

    This sounds almost like Here There Are Monsters but I still like to give this a chance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Her Bookish Obsession

    Overall I think this book had a nice idea, but the execution of it wasn't the best... TW: violence, rape, abuse, kidnapping, abduction, assault, neglect(?) Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story dedicated to all those that feel forgotten. Siblings Annie and Jamie are thick as thieves, as they create a Terabithian world in the woods behind their house, named Gumlea. This world is an escape from society and the gendered expectations that come with coming of age. Gumlea is a place of witches, pir Overall I think this book had a nice idea, but the execution of it wasn't the best... TW: violence, rape, abuse, kidnapping, abduction, assault, neglect(?) Strange Creatures is a coming-of-age story dedicated to all those that feel forgotten. Siblings Annie and Jamie are thick as thieves, as they create a Terabithian world in the woods behind their house, named Gumlea. This world is an escape from society and the gendered expectations that come with coming of age. Gumlea is a place of witches, pirates, and sirens. It is lush and atmospheric and has that mystical magic that can only be found in a child's young, innocent mind. One day, Jamie is gone, and Annie refuses to believe he has left without her. As her family's lives move on, she knows that he has made it to Gumlea, even if her therapist says otherwise. But she has to ask herself, why would Jamie leave her behind. Strange Creatures is a contemporary novel with fantasy elements interwoven in the narrative at the beginning of each chapter, telling a whole new story, which I loved. However, it does get a little confusing as you don't learn until well into the book the significance of it. The story was slow to begin, as it took about 100 pages for the story to really develop. I was slightly confused if Annit was a typo because the synopsis said Annie and I have an ARC but everything sorted itself out by the second chapter. The tale of Gumlea is told in short paragraphs at the starting of each chapter based in the real world and it usually relates to the emotions and revelations in the world everyone sees. The book is told from multiple perspectives, the writing style was kind of weird, specifically for Jamie's character which had me rereading several pages because I was so confused and lost to what was going on. The problems I had with it being contemporary when I was hoping for more fantasy elements interwoven because of the synopsis and the length. At over 500 pages, this book is a commitment, and I did have to push myself to keep reading it at times. It's a great story, told from three POVs, and discusses topics of growing up and traumatic events that are rarely seen in YA. But it was just. So. Long. I stopped when I reached 500/544 pages and decided not to go on. It was a good enough ending for me. I laughed, cried, and cringed at some parts but to be completely honest the plot twists were a bit much for a contemporary and sadly, this wasn't very fulfilling for almost 600 pages. I’m not saying this was a bad book and it wasn’t the greatest but I recommend you pick this up and if you do, you’re in for a LONG and slightly confusing ride.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Thank you to Harper360YA for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world of their own making, where no one else could find th Thank you to Harper360YA for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world of their own making, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and their shared world. By the time Annie was in eighth grade, it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half. And then, one day, he disappears. Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered the world they created, and who believes that she's the only one who can bring him back. But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother's disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive. Unfortunately, I’ve had to DNF this book which I really hate doing because I always give books a chance and feel I should see it through. However, I just couldn’t with this one. The idea is brilliant, blending contemporary and fantasy into one. But come 20% into this book and all I felt was confusion - the main plot device of the brother going missing wasn’t anywhere in sight! The plot was also a little confusing. I kind of understood the idea that the two siblings created their own world and wanted to live in it but jumping between real life and their imagination was difficult - it never felt as if we left one for the other. It just felt too much like child’s play, which it initially was, and just didn’t develop enough. The characters for me just felt a bit too one dimensional. It was just repetitive and not at all engaging for me which is truly a shame. There is potential in them but I feel they could have been written much better. Overall, Strange Creatures is an interesting concept that sadly missed the mark for me. Thank you again to Harper360YA for an advanced copy of this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Annie is the central character in North’s newest book, Strange Creatures. We get a few perspective changes and Annie isn’t our narrator throughout, but this feels like Annie’s book (as it becomes evident that it should). We grow up with her and her brother Jamie a bit as we read, and we become intimately familiar with the imaginary land of Gumlea they dream up as children. The two have the kind of bond fiction writers like to attribute to twins (though they aren’t twins) and it feels more earned Annie is the central character in North’s newest book, Strange Creatures. We get a few perspective changes and Annie isn’t our narrator throughout, but this feels like Annie’s book (as it becomes evident that it should). We grow up with her and her brother Jamie a bit as we read, and we become intimately familiar with the imaginary land of Gumlea they dream up as children. The two have the kind of bond fiction writers like to attribute to twins (though they aren’t twins) and it feels more earned and believable than the lazy twin-power we see so often. You’re going to have feelings while you read this book. I’m confident about that because I’m not the kind of person who goes around having feelings all over the place and I had feelings reading this one. Sadness and excitement and frustration and all that – sure – but for me it was a bittersweet nostalgia left in my chest as I put the book down each night. I found myself transported at times to my own fantasies from my childhood – the worlds I inhabited in the woods behind my own house, the parts I had played in epic fantasies. I realized that so much of that magic is still hidden away in me somewhere – sneaking out in my daydreams and musings and the doodles in the margins of legal pads during dull meetings. Our character, Annie, uses her fantasy in way the rest of us haven’t. She is more attached to it than she ought to be as she approaches puberty – like a child who refuses to outgrow a favorite stuffed animal perhaps – and a certain event seems to fix Gumlea in her ontology and makes it truly real for her. As a reader we know it’s a coping mechanism, a response to trauma, but at the same time we wonder how certain we are. As she reaches out to her brother through this fantastic connection they share – is that imagined or is it a real and believable kind of magic – and as she makes plans to use the magic of Gumlea to fix the tragedies in the real world we have to wonder. Magic felt real to me as I read Strange Creatures the same way it felt real to Annie. Buy this book and read it. Buy another copy for the imaginative youth in your life (even though I taught 8th grade for a time, I have a hard time picking the right age range for this – but I'd be hesitant to go below 7th grade). Buy it for someone who can remember the magic of childhood and who wishes it could help them in the real world. Fair warning if you’re considering it for a kid in your life – it deals with some mature situations and though it’s never explicitly described on the page – sex happens.

  23. 5 out of 5

    amanda wade

    From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world, called Gumlea, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school, when Jamie grew dark and distant. From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world, called Gumlea, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school, when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and Gumlea. Soon it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half. And then, one day, he disappears. Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered Gumlea, and who believes that she’s the only one who can bring him back. But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother’s disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive. First of all this book wasn’t at all what I thought. I was expecting a fantasy book and although there is a touch of fantasy involved it’s primarily a contemporary book. If you like a dark thought provoking contemporary book then it’s an absolute must for you. The book switches between characters and between the real live of brother and sister Annie and Jamie and the fantasy world they build between them. For fans of The perks of being a wallflower.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    Strange Creatures by Phoebe North. Thanks to @balzerandbray for the gifted copy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Annie and her older brother, Jaime, are very close. They tell each other stories and live within their fantasy land in the woods behind their house. As Jaime gets older, Annie finds him more distant. Until one day, he goes missing. Annie is convinced he is trapped in their fantasy land and it’s up to her to get him. This was a very unique read; you have never read something quite like this! I am not a fantasy Strange Creatures by Phoebe North. Thanks to @balzerandbray for the gifted copy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Annie and her older brother, Jaime, are very close. They tell each other stories and live within their fantasy land in the woods behind their house. As Jaime gets older, Annie finds him more distant. Until one day, he goes missing. Annie is convinced he is trapped in their fantasy land and it’s up to her to get him. This was a very unique read; you have never read something quite like this! I am not a fantasy person. I enjoyed how this book had fantasy stories, but they stayed on the sides.. it didn’t become part of the story itself. I loved the overlap and think it was very well done. I love coming of age stories and this had several characters who were working on themselves, their identities, and how they fit with their families and the world around them. This was a fairly long book, but don’t feel overwhelmed. It reads fast and parts of it are stories within the story. “We’d invented elaborate rituals that made the impossible read. We needed knives, salt, blood sacrifices, potions. All of this had existed only in our minds, only in fantasy. I needed them now here, with me, in my actual hands. I needed real, actual magic. But our world was ordinary and drab, without the least bit of magic in it.” Strange Creatures comes out 6/1.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ágnes Köteles

    I WENT INTO THINKING I WILL GET A LIGHTHARTED LOVELY YA FANTASY BOOK ABOUT SIBLINGS. THIS BOOK TURNED INTO BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA FASTER THEN I COULD ASK WHAT IS GOING ON? I am thorn between 3.5 and 4 stars. But I will give it that extra little half star. Let me explain. I enjoyed this book, but not with my right mindset I would ever EVER put this book into the cathehory of YA fantasy. This is not a YA fantasy at all. There should be some serious trigger warning at the beggining at every book that I WENT INTO THINKING I WILL GET A LIGHTHARTED LOVELY YA FANTASY BOOK ABOUT SIBLINGS. THIS BOOK TURNED INTO BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA FASTER THEN I COULD ASK WHAT IS GOING ON? I am thorn between 3.5 and 4 stars. But I will give it that extra little half star. Let me explain. I enjoyed this book, but not with my right mindset I would ever EVER put this book into the cathehory of YA fantasy. This is not a YA fantasy at all. There should be some serious trigger warning at the beggining at every book that deals with r*pe, grooming, abduction and a completely delusional and toxic coping mechanism of the main character. This is a something everyone should be aware starting this book. Heavy on page mentions of r**pe. Please be cautious stating this book. Now that’s out of the way… it was an interesting story. I really enjoyed it, but I did not get the fantasy experience I was expecting at all. Therefore can’t give it 5 stars. The horror that the children in this book had to go trough… it is terrifying.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Toby Murphy

    I’m going to need to think about this book. There was a lot going on and North covers a lot. My initial reaction was the voice of the characters didn’t seem to always fit. While the book is a little lengthy, it certain paces itself well, especially one that’s more about characters.

  27. 4 out of 5

    CR

    Strange creatures is right! This book was strange and I am not really sure what to say about it. I loved the haunting and heartbreaking story. It was beautifully written and the myth and the bonds of the characters was wonderful. Family, love, sorrow, and more await the reader of this story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Annie and her one year older brother Jamie are as close as twins. They create a fantasy world in the woods behind their house. Jamie disappears and Annie thinks he's stuck in their make believe world even though she's too old to believe in such nonsense. Annie and her one year older brother Jamie are as close as twins. They create a fantasy world in the woods behind their house. Jamie disappears and Annie thinks he's stuck in their make believe world even though she's too old to believe in such nonsense.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Calei

    A beautiful contemporary fantasy that hits on so many aspects of living, that will make you bawl and feel all the feels, and reminds me once again why I'm so happy contemporary fantasies are becoming more popular, because they're my favs. A beautiful contemporary fantasy that hits on so many aspects of living, that will make you bawl and feel all the feels, and reminds me once again why I'm so happy contemporary fantasies are becoming more popular, because they're my favs.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This ended up being very different than I had been expecting from the description. I hear been hoping for a mystery novel but it was more of a very sad coming of age Novel. However I couldn’t deny the quality of the writing and it was still a very good story.

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