This is a novel I read as a kid/teen in the 90s, I'm not sure if it was new at the time or not.

I believe it was set in a small town, possibly in England. There was a farm, where some kind of creature was evolving throughout the novel. One big reason I remember this book so strongly is that the book featured illustrations of the creature at different stages of its evolution throughout the book. I can't remember if it was an alien or a genetic experiment of some kind.

There was a romance between a boy and a girl, they were probably teens.

Every few chapters there would be a new illustration of this creature growing. These were the only illustrations in the book, it was not a graphic novel.

I vividly remember how the creature looked, it was pretty scary - it started looking like a simple organism, evolved into a long "eel" like form, and finally a larger beast. It reminded me of a prehistoric sea-dwelling creature of some kind.

I wish I could remember more specifics! I can't remember how the farm was involved exactly but I believe it was connected with this evolving creature in some way.

  • Someone else is looking for a similar book at goodreads.com/topic/show/… and accidentally posted an "answer" stating as much.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 16, 2019 at 20:02
  • Are you sure it's a novel? Gahan Wilson wrote a short story for Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous Visions whose title is a black ink splotch, sometimes rendered as {spot}. The story is punctuated by several illustrations by Wilson, (really just bigger and bigger ink splotches, showing the blob as it grows throughout the story.
    – Spencer
    Jul 16, 2019 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


Could this be Robert Heinlein's 1954 young adult novel The Star Beast?
Teenager John Thomas Stuart's pet Lummox, found on a distant planet by his grandfather, has been with his family for three generations slowly growing larger and more complex. However it didn't start out eel like, but was described as an eight legged dachshund that grew to the size of a triceratops. Along the way it learns to talk and then swelling bumps turn out to be budding arms. It is very childlike but the townsfolk are scared of it because of its size. When it causes too much damage the town orders it destroyed. John Thomas and his pet run away to the countryside to escape and are joined by his girlfriend Betty. In the end, a powerful, space traveling race has have been looking for Lummox since he went missing all those years ago.
I don't remember my copy having illustrations beyond the cover, but as a young adult novel I can easily see an edition being that way and the artist taking liberties. While the boy doesn't live on a farm, a farm and several greenhouses do play into the story line as the creature wanders loose.
You can read the original serialization at Archive.org
And see various covers here www.isfdb.org


Could it be Hydra by Robert Swindells?

As per the Goodreads page for this book, originally published January 1, 1993. Synopsis reads as follows:

When Ben and Midge sneak out at night to investigate mysterious corn-circles which have begun to appear in the fields around Cansfield Farm, they discover that a dilapidated barn conceals a terrifying secret.

As for the illustrations, these are found at the beginning of all chapters and show the creatures evolution into a long "eel" like form.

These can be seen by checking the book out on the Internet Archive. Page 7 shows the creature at the beginning of its evolution and page 140 shows the fully formed creature. https://archive.org/details/hydra0000swin/page/140/mode/2up

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 10, 2023 at 1:29
  • @Becca - Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by editing it to specify the ways in which this matches the book described in the question, and any ways in which it doesn't. Specifying the year in which this book was published would be helpful too. Mar 10, 2023 at 1:33

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