Published By: Atmosphere Press
Released On: 26/07/2021
This gripping drama follows Tom Duncan, the sole survivor of the largest cult mass suicide in US history, as he works to rebuild his shattered life. After a Netflix documentary accuses Tom of masterminding the plot that led to the deaths of one hundred and thirty seven people, including his wife, he finds himself exiled from his home and family. Tom seeks redemption through a weekend memorial with other cult members who escaped before the grisly end.
Thanks to Atmosphere Press for the gifted copy of this title in return for an honest review.
I couldn’t tell if this was a fiction or non-fiction book at first, and the link to a 2020 Netflix documentary (also fake) didn’t help me. I had to do some googling before found out it was indeed all a fictionalised novel. And I’m very glad it is, as imagining this could you happen is quite horrifying.
I am fascinated by stories – real or fictional – about mass deaths, serial killers and cults as I find I (thankfully) cannot get into their headspace, so it’s always a real eye opening and endlessly interesting.
I did find it difficult to read at times, with the main narrative interspersed with interviews, TV footage, and screen captions. Each section also rolls into the next so you’re not always sure what bit you’re reading. There are also no chapters, which personally I don’t like. I enjoy short chapters that I can get stuck into. However, once you’ve wrapped your head round the formatting, you can lose yourself in it.
It is more about the aftermath of the incident rather than the cult itself, and I would have preferred a bit more detail about the actual cult. But that’s what fascinates me personally.
It’s a dramatic book that – considering the unusual and niche storyline – is steeped in realism. It is entertaining and engaging and emotional.