Title: The followers
Author: Rebecca wait
Genre: romance/ crime/ religion
Review: The novel opens with 22-year-old Judith visiting her mother in prison and continues switching between Judith now and Judith the child of ten years ago as she tries to cope with her mother’s new relationship. The reasons behind Judith’s anger and resentment unfold as the reader learns more about her mother Stephanie’s new man, Nathaniel, and their life as part of The Ark of God, a cult commune on the moors. Details are gradually revealed as to the reasons for Stephanie’s imprisonment and a full explanation is withheld until tantalisingly close to the end building tension and a sense of menace.
This is a powerful book about an interesting and little-treated topic. In shifting the narrative focus from Judith to Stephanie and then to other members of the Ark, Rebecca Wait creates sympathy for a range of characters. The reader sees how loneliness and need create a space in Stephanie’s life which Nathaniel can exploit and how the vulnerability of other characters, notably Jess/Esther have brought them to accept the cult lifestyle. Most heart-breaking of all are the voices of the children, Moses, Peter, Abigail and Mary, born into the cult and never having known any different, their conversations with Judith are fascinating.
This is a novel unafraid to tackle difficult topics which examines charisma and hurt and how they can warp relationships. It is about power, faith and love used for good and bad ends, despair and the possibilities of redemption. With the exception of Nathaniel no characters are entirely black and white and the degrees of guilt and complicity are intriguing. The natural world of the moors and the hemming in by mist and rain is beautifully depicted and mirrors the emotional landscape of the characters themselves.
The Followers is a haunting and beautifully wrought novel with characters and a story that will stay with you long after you have closed the book itself.
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