Without a doubt, cults capture our imagination. Raising so many questions, famous cults demand we scrutinize ourselves to acknowledge how susceptible we are to following down the path of a mesmerizing leader. Stories of cults and extreme beliefs ask uncomfortable questions about how far we’d go to belong to a family-like community. In the seven books about cults profiled here, readers can safely experience the cult experience through the distance of fiction.
This riveting thriller braids the paths of two women living on the edge. Trying to rebound after trauma, Freya is fiercely protective of her young son and dog. Amy is fifteen, a teenager growing up in the Clearing, a cult that has insulated her from the real world until a young girl becomes the new "daughter" of the family and shatters Amy with questions of what lies beyond. Freya has also lived a sheltered life, but her remote existence is by design. In the Clearing brings whiplash twists and aching suspense as Frey and Amy's stories hurtle towards each other.
A chilling police procedural is the second book featuring unflappable Detective Betty Rhyzyk. Not long after a cult calling themselves The Family takes her hostage, Betty finds herself recovering from PTSD. Appointed to desk work while she recovers, Betty can't let the beat go and soon embarks on a mission to find out who is responsible for the mounting deaths of drug dealers. As the signs point to a connection between her fellow officers and a Houston drug cartel, Betty flirts with danger in the pursuit of justice. But moving forward with her independent investigation puts her right back on the path to her past and the dangerous leader of the apocalyptic Family.
From the dynamic duo of Preston and Child comes a heart-pounding novel of suspense, the ninth starring Special Agent Pendergast, who once again faces a formidable foe. After the sinister murder of a prominent reporter and his archaeologist wife, the police are baffled when security footage shows the villain to be the couple's neighbor, who by all accounts had been dead and buried for a few weeks. To find the truth, FBI Special Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta seek to infiltrate a covert Manhattan cult that no outsiders have ever seen and lived to tell the tale.
In the twelfth book featuring the detective buddies Hap and Leonard, the partners get drawn into an investigation of a radical revivalist cult. As Jackrabbit Smile opens, Hap is about to get married to the love of his life until a group of Pentecostal white supremacists demand Hap and Leonard investigate the case of Jackrabbit, the beloved daughter of one of their members. No one has seen Jackrabbit for ages, and her mother, Judith, has never given up hope. When they bring the case to Hap and Leonard, the duo reluctantly agree to get involved, just the first start on a wild journey with a group of extremists convinced that Jesus will return to humanity, accompanied by lizard people.
This edge-of-your-seat thriller is laced with page-turning intrigue and suspense. Humanity is stunned when four planes crash on different continents in a matter of hours. The sole survivors are three children. While the world sorts through the aftermath, ruling out terrorism and other obvious examples, an evangelical pastor proclaims the children's miraculous survival signals the beginning of the apocalypse. With officials scrambling for answers to the mystery behind the crashes, the children receive widespread interest. Meanwhile, each child begins to display bizarre and uncharacteristic behavior, prompting a search for answers, a journey that sheds light on the extremist fringe who might be involved. Written in the form of an author's report about the so-called Black Thursday events, The Three is unputdownable.
In this searing and provocative book, the world has burned into a wasteland. Ten men and their families set sail for an island where they could thrive isolated from the continent's dangers. But their new community quickly adopts a radical system split along lines of gender and age. Only the original ten men can return to the mainland, and women are expected to engage in breeding activity. Children, however, enjoy carefree summers, ones that kids like Caitlin Jacob should enjoy free from adults. When Caitlin witnesses a shocking event that makes her question everything she knows, 17-year-old Janey Solomon steps up to investigate. Janey is already starving herself to avoid the fate she'll face as a woman. Together, Janey and Caitlin search for answers...and finds mystery after mystery.
What to Read Next
A freelance librarian, Sarah S. Davis, MLIS, writes about books on Book Riot, Electric Literature, PsychCentral, and others. She has published the bestselling quote collections Brave Brain and A Reader’s Library of Book Quotes. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at VCFA.