Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie

Fifteen years have passed since David, Deacon, Beth, Angela, and Emily escaped the Family of the Living Spirit. Just five children, out of a group of over 100, survived what happened at Red Peak on that final day. And they've never told anyone about it. 

But now Emily is dead, bringing the group—minus Angela—together once more to mourn her loss. As David, Deacon, and Beth recount their final days, it becomes clear that they should return to Red Peak and face those final hours once again. But each of them has a different recollection of the events of that last day. And each of them has been haunted by it ever since. Emily was just the first to succumb.

This latest by Craig DiLouie is a little hard to sum up. It's also one I'm still mulling over how I feel about. 

There seem to be an absolute bevy of cult books on the market of late. Given DiLouie's backlist, I went into this one expecting a horror novel about a cult. And it is that, but only in part. 

David and Angela, siblings whose mother joined the Family of the Living Spirit when they were children, have grown up to be a counselor focused on cult extractions and a cop, respectively. Deacon, whose mother was in love with their leader, is trying to make it as the lead in a band. And Beth, whose parents also found solace in the group when she was young, is a therapist. 

All of them are struggling with the fallout of their time with the Family. In fact, all of them share their own POV, with the exception of Angela (who I found to be quite interesting, maybe because we never really get her story). 

The Family of the Living Spirit was, as they can all agree, a safe and trusting environment to grow up in for a time. Led by a charismatic, if narcissistic, man who believed joy in life was just as important as faith, it was more a commune than a cult at the start. And the story unfolds with each character telling their piece of the tale as it led to its tragic end. 

As each of them examines their internal struggles and their memories of the final days with the Family, they each have their own revelations about those days. I don't want to spoil anything by giving too much away, but I thought the book took a turn that didn't feel as satisfying as I had hoped. And I really think that it's because beyond David and the build up to what really happened at Red Peak, I wasn't as interested in Deacon and Beth. I wanted Angela's story (which we don't get). 

Ultimately, I wanted more resolution. And more horror. 

The Children of Red Peak is a weird book that will inevitably appeal to different readers for different reasons. Those who come at it with the mindset that I did are likely to have the same take away that I did. But those who are a little more open to gray endings are probably going to get more out of the read. 

It is a book that sticks with you because it asks the reader, as well as the characters, to draw their own conclusions. I admit, though, that I'm not always the best audience for those stories. (Or, a better way to say it is, it depends what mood I'm in when I read it. Given the things going on this year, I've certainly been gravitating towards easier reads.)

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

1 comment:

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

It does seem to be somewhat of a trend, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.