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What Strange Creatures

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  645 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young woman’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.
The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years after starting her PhD program—one marriage, one divorce, three ca
Paperback, First edition , 366 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  645 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What drew me to Emily Arsenault's book was that it revolved around an adult brother-sister relationship. That's not something you see all that frequently; there are many books with sisters' stories- Lisa See's Shanghai Girls, John Searles' Help For The Haunted and Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women to name a few- but stories featuring brother-sister relationships are not as numerous.

Arsenault's book pulled me in from it's opening line: "What are you supposed to do on the second night your
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
The description on the book jacket is a lot more exciting than the actual book. Not that it's terrible. But if you're like me, "not terrible" isn't really a sufficient reason to read a book. One thing that stood out to me (and that has never stood out to me in a novel before) is the descriptive filler the author used whenever the characters in the book would engage in dialogue. It really felt pointless a lot of the time. It was so mundane. Here's a paragraph from p. 244 of the paperback, to give ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a mystery by this author written in 2014. In it, Theresa Battle's brother, Jeff, is arrested for the murder of young Kim Graber, who had been researching possible miscarriages of justice by a politician currently in office. Kim ends up dead; she had been strangled. Kim had been Jeff's girlfriend, and his sister Theresa was dog-sitting Kim's dog, when she disappeared. Theresa decides that she will take up Kim's search in order to prove that her brother had nothing to do with Kim's murder. ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Theresa Battle has already been divorced, and she has the houseful of pets, an unfinished dissertation, and a dead-end job to prove it. She’s not surprised though – as she says repeatedly, the Battles are used to disappointment. Even her brother Jeff wanders through life, with his girlfriend Kim as his only solace. When Kim is found dead, and the evidence stacks up against Jeff, Theresa is determined to prove her brother’s innocence. And no, it’s not just to get rid of Theresa’s puggle, who she ...more
Thomas Edmund
Arsenault's offering 'What Strange Creatures' is itself quite the strange creature. The novel can't seem to work out whether it is a thriller, Nancy Drew mystery, or literary novel of family dynamics. Unfortunately this is not a brilliant piece that melds all three, but a mediocre tale that falls short in each.

The first warning sign was the beginning, the dramatic start of a the protagonist's brother being accused of murder very quickly prompts a massive groan at we jump back 3 weeks in a blatan
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read and enjoyed two of Arsenault’s previous novels, so I admit to having some high expectations for this latest novel. And it actually surpasses those hopes! The humour and realism of the relationship between the adult siblings, Theresa and Jeff, leaps off the page. Jeff’s first appearance on the page actually made me laugh out loud! It is this consistent humour that really sets this book apart from her other novels. The mystery itself, while certainly engaging, is far from unpredictable ...more
Lea Wait
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Emily Arsenault is a wonderful writer, and Theresa, her protagonist in WHAT STRANGE CREATURE, is very likeable. Charming, strange ... but not unlike someone you might know. She has a weakness for men (including her brother - although not in a sexual way) who are just plain strange .. and I won't even mention Emily's mother. This is a mystery .. Emily's brother's girlfriend is found dead, and he is blamed for the crime. But her investigation heads in sundry corners ... where she finds out a lot m ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
an easy & enjoyable read, though I didn’t love the ending. doesn’t really stack up against say a Liane Moriarty mystery, but wasn’t terrible either.
Mahala Church
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

The first paragraph of Emily Arsenault’s What Strange Creatures sets the tone for the entire book. “What are you supposed to do on the second night your brother is in jail on a murder charge? Should you watch The Colbert Report? Should you clean the black crud from behind your kitchen faucet? Should you make yourself a smoothie with protein powder?” The protagonist doesn’t get much further than that in making decisions or solving problems. I suppose,
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 star read

You wouldn't think a divorced doctoral student, her older unemployed brother, a former juvenile delinquent turned author turned college professor, a former Hare Krishna member cum bartender, and a waitress would have much in common (especially when the waitress winds up dead). Throw into the mix the life lessons learned from a 14th century holy woman (want-to-be saint and author of the first autobiography) and murder and you have the makings for what first sounds like a disaster. Am
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library, 2014-reads
Two star on Goodreads says "it was ok," and that describes this book quite well.
Theresa Battle and her brother, Jeff, have always had bad luck. Theresa is divorced, works in an unfulfilling job, and can't finish her doctoral dissertation on Margery Kempe. Jeff seems aimless, working odd jobs, and not really amounting to much, considering he's supposed to be a 'genius.' Then, Jeff's girlfriend goes missing and is found dead, and Jeff is the primary suspect. Theresa doesn't believe that her broth
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I loved the first novel I read by Emily Arsenault ("In Search of the Rose Notes"), but I found this one so boring that I nearly stopped reading it 3 or 4 times within the week-and-a-half it took me to finish it. I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and instead their quirks just made me dislike them. It dragged on and on while nothing happened for about 80% of the novel.

1.5 stars
Sarah Anderson
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bought on a whim because I could relate to the main character's bio and ended up liking it a lot more than I thought. Will have to check out the author's other books now.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hoopla-read
I've recently discovered Arsenault and binge-read four of her books, this one being the fourth. Unfortunately, it was definitely my least favorite, and had I read it first, I probably would not have read the other three, which I very much enjoyed.

This one had neither a historical (The Evening Spider) nor an occult (The Leaf Reader) angle, nor a bibliophilic (if that word exists - The Broken Teaglass) slant, so it left me with a regular mystery in the modern day which was just so-so.

Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
“We’re Battles. What chance did we have?” That one sentence says it all. This is the main characters’ view of their lot in life – and it make them approachable, believable and interesting. I don’t see them as pathetic or self-pitying, but as sardonic with a wry sense of humor – and oh so likable.

Arsenault once again shows her skill in wrapping an interesting mystery inside a semi-non-fiction story about the life and writings of Margery Kempe. That subject matter could be dry or boring, but she w
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in 2014 in exchange for an honest review. I tend not to read my books right away - rather, I save them for when I am in the right emotional space and context to do so in order to be able to absorb the book wholly. Three years later, I found myself in that space, and I am glad I waited. I loved this book. Arsenault spoke to existentialist thoughts that we all have in a very real way - I felt each character's unique personality and believed in ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this author's style of writing. Her characters were obviously flawed but you still liked them, which is quite a difficult thing to do. I enjoyed the mystery unfolding most likely because I haven't read a mystery book in a while! So I'm giving it an average review because it wasn't ground-breaking, but it was enjoyable.
Kelsey Hanson
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was a very unique mystery. It seems a bit more plausible than other mysteries and has a bunch of characters with very original personalities. They are flawed, well-rounded characters that do not fall into any cliched characters. I also found the sections about Margery Kempe surprisingly interesting and I want to learn more about her. The plot was complex and interesting, but I have to admit that I was a bit lost a few times. Still, it was a refreshingly different standalone mystery.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, adult
Ok, I settled on the bad guy pretty early on, but I still enjoyed the book because of that tension: was I right, or wasn't I, as well as for the characters. Also, this book was given to me by a student, which makes it special.
Kenneth Funk
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge2018
This is my second book by this author. I am truly enjoying how she spins a tale. I am looking for more books form this author.

I really can't describe what it is that draws me into the story but once in, I am hooked.
Katie Pressley
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and thrilling book!
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super charming mystery that was more about the leading lady discovering herself than discovering whodunit.
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely tangled story, which kept me guessing. Haven't read this author before, but will certainly read more from her.
April Mayer
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars

I received this book from It is available for sale right now in Paperback, E-book, and Audio Formats. The book was released for sale in July of 2014.

Please keep in mind, the copy of What Strange Creatures I received is an Uncorrected Proof. This means that changes may be made in this proof copy before books are printed.

About The Novel:

The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years ago, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a dog later, Theresa still h
Uma Vaidy
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Started well but got too confusing with the different characters. I read the first 200 pages and then went on to the ending. I kind of guessed the ending halfway through
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Kind of like reading Nancy Drew mixed with Stephanie Plum. Easy reading detective work.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Probably my favorite of her books to date.
Brad Erickson
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pretty bad.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book description made me think this was a life story sort of novel. And it is, but with a good crime story and a surprise ending! A quick, enjoyable summer read.
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

It's been such a fantastic year for mysteries, at least it seems that way to my reading belt. There has been such diversity among narratives, such solid and imaginative dodging and covering up of truths. There are a few stand-outs for me thus far, in the mystery genre, and What Strange Creatures has been added to that list. I find myself hand-pressed to describe the way main character Theresa Battle got under my skin. Her almost drab air of existence set the entire
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I haven’t had a terribly interesting life, so I won’t share too many details. But the highlights include:

• When I was a preschooler and a kindergartner, I had a lazy eye and I was Connecticut’s “Miss Prevent Blindness,” appearing on pamphlets and television urging parents to get their kids’ eyes checked. I wore an eye patch and clutched a blonde doll wearing a similar patch. I imagine it was all r