It was with great reluctance that I re-read Creature of the Night. My lack of enthusiasm was in great part due to the fact that I found Bobby, the main character, incredibly unsympathetic and unlikeable. I just didn’t want to spend more time with him. Regardless, I re-read and although I still disliked Bobby, I was once again impressed with the incredibly skilled writing. This is serious craftsmanship people.
I was completely immersed in Bobby’s world. It is a world filled with poverty. Poverty of the mind, poverty of the soul, and in the economic sense too. Bobby’s mother was 14 when she had him. Ill prepared for motherhood, she attempted to get ahead, but was unable. She submitted to a life on the dole, is grossly unhappy, obviously feels out of control, and is completely unable to regulate her finances (two words: Money Lenders).
Now Bobby is 14, forcibly removed to the countryside, away from his loser (my words, not his) friends, and is basically having the teenaged version of a midlife crisis. Basically, Bobby has to decide whether he wants to end up a drugged out thug or choose a life that is productive. After some time in the country, he clearly has more food for thought.
Bobby’s struggle is very well drawn. His harsh reality of theft, substance abuse, violence, etc. is clearly set up. You understand what appeals to him about this lifestyle. The quick rush, the camaraderie, the way you can forget your troubles. What is equally clear is how Bobby is finding it less and less satisfying. The drugs leave him feeling worse, his friends abandon him without any second thought – the closeness he thought they had was not as substantial or deep as he believed.
Bobby’s progression is very subtle. Thompson makes it clear, but she doesn’t spell it out for you. It is in every regrettable thing Bobby does. Every time he gets drunk or high and then loathes himself for it. The anger and hatred he projects on his mother is clearly an expression of his hopelessness. Bobby’s psyche is a dark and unhappy place.
And don’t even get me started on the fairies. The fairy lady was totally ‘freakin creepy. *shudders* I’m sure there is some sort of amazing thematic parallels going on here, but they totally went over my head. I was, however, amazed that two totally divergent stories (city juvenile delinquent and countryside folklore) could be coupled in such a smooth and cohesive story.
And so despite all my reluctance, I was very glad to have spent another couple hours with ol’ Robser.
Book Source: Library Copy