A few weeks ago, there was a deal on the e-book edition of Hideous Creatures by S. E. Lister. I’d never heard of the book before, but it sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Synopsis provided by Old Street Publishing¹:
Arthur Hallingham is the youngest son of an English earl. He’s on the run from his former life – from a family where painful, half-understood secrets lurk. Arthur travels on a slave ship to America, hoping to lose himself amidst the teeming squalor and vaulting ambitions of the New World. Before long he meets Flora, the tough daughter of an outlaw, and Shelo, a native medicine man with mysterious powers who seems to have a plan for him.
The three set off on a journey through the thick forests and along the wide rivers of the lush southern wilderness. As they near their destination, Shelo’s terrible and destructive purpose is gradually revealed.
Hideous Creatures is mainly set in colonial North America. For me, the setting had a very dark tint to it, so it felt like most of the book was set at nighttime even though many scenes do take place during the day. Nevertheless, S. E. Lister describes a beautiful and enchanting forest setting near the end that stuck with me.
Arthur Hallingham, the main character, is described as a young gentleman with a strange body. Having read the book, I still don’t know what’s wrong with his body exactly and why it is that people shun him. I also wasn’t able to connect with Arthur. Shelo, the native medicine man, on the other hand, is a guy I like. He is mysterious and he too has an odd body but in a very different way. Many people draw back in fear when they see Shelo, while others seek him out for help.
With Hideous Creatures, S. E. Lister wrote a book that reads like an original 19th century Gothic novel. It took quite some time to get used to the writing style and to find into the story, but when I did, the unusual plot gripped me. Hideous Creatures is a novel for fans of 19th century Gothic novels and those who like to read something different once in a while.