I picked up The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly looking for a chilling October read, and that's exactly what I got. From the first page to the last, Stephanie Oakes's debut had me terrified (though not in the ghosts-and-monsters sense—this book deals with real-world villains). But before I get too ahead of myself, here's what the story is about.
Release: June 9, 2015
Release: June 9, 2015
The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.
And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.
three reasons to read it
Minnow Bly has just escaped an extremist religious cult that exemplifies what happens when faith goes too far. Not only does the Prophet feed his followers blatant lies for the purpose of manipulation (he tells them, for example, that everyone outside their secluded community is out to kill them), but he responds to disobedience with violent, even deadly, punishments. Life inside the cult's compound is horrifying and dangerous, full of rituals and lies you have to read to believe, and learning the details of Minnow's escape is a heart-stopping experience.
After escaping her home of twelve years, the protagonist embarks on a mission to understand herself, her beliefs, the world around her. She learns about science and the history of the universe, dabbles in Christian ideology, and speaks with people of varying belief systems—and she gleans something meaningful from each activity. Her journey is difficult, her tangled thoughts full of un-answerable questions, but she learns so much throughout the few-month-long story. I loved watching Minnow come to her own conclusions after years of attempting to accept the Prophet's incongruous teachings, and her journey will resonate with any reader who has similarly analyzed religion.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly alternates between past and present, with segments of Minnow's escape story interspersed with scenes from her-post cult recovery. Stephanie Oakes weaves the two storylines together brilliantly, providing new information about the protagonist's past with perfect timing—not slowly enough to seem dull, not quickly enough to seem unsatisfying. The result is a suspenseful, absorbing story that I could hardly stand to put down; I finished it in two days and would have raced to the final page sooner if I could have.
Have you read The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly? If so, did the cult terrify you as much as it terrified me? And what other books would you recommend to get in the fall mood?