When 14-year-old Evie befriends a group of girls she meets in a park, she is soon pulled into their isolated ranch community, which revolves around one charismatic leader. Driven by the intensity of her relationship with an older girl named Suzanne, Evie doesn’t realize how far she is falling to the whims of this Manson-like cult.
Under the Banner of Heaven
Starting with the murder of a woman and her infant child, Krakauer meticulously examines the origins and intricacies of a Fundamentalist and polygamist community that continues to exist in large numbers today. Shocking and compelling, this one is a must-read.
In February 1974, 19-year old Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by a group calling itself Symbionese Liberation Army. Several months later, she came forward saying she had joined the group, then spent the next year on the run as she became complicit with the SLA’s crimes. Now, New Yorker writer and bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin records this bizarre and fascinating chapter in American history, from the kidnapping to the dramatic trial following Hearst’s arrest to the media frenzy that captured it all.
The Girl Before
Held for questioning by the police, Clara Lawson is forced to examine every facet of her life as she slowly comes to terms with the truth behind her upbringing and her beloved husband’s secretive business. Told through a split narrative of “Then” and “Now”, the unraveling of Clara’s life is a psychological thriller you won’t want to miss.
Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies
The title of Arthur Goldwag’s anthology says it all; this book is perfect for readers looking to learn about a breadth of cults, conspiracies, and secret societies across history, including the Freemasons, the mafia, the Kennedy assassination, and of course, the Illuminati.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Seventeen-year-old Minnow is imprisoned in a juvenile detention center for a crime she committed after her escape from the tyrannical Kevinian cult, at whose authority she lost everything—including her own hands. In this dark work of fiction, Minnow must be willing to admit what she knows about the cult’s demise in order to reclaim her life.
Cartwheels in a Sari
Jayanti Tamm not just born into a cult, with parents who were avid followers of the spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy—she was born as the “Chosen One”, handpicked by Guru to be set apart. In this insightful memoir, Tamm reflects on her unusual upbringing and her ultimate decision to break free.
Simultaneously alluring and horrifying, cults are fascinating to us because we don’t inherently know much about them. In real life, they are so isolated that most people don’t think about them during their day-to-day. In literature, however, cults are everywhere. Countless memoirs have given voice to survivors and escapees, while investigators continue to research and write about them in sweeping works of journalism or true crime. In fiction, cults allow readers to consider the human psyche, the motivations that drive our choices and our sense of belonging. These titles, both fiction, and nonfiction, explore these complicated themes of survival and psychology with nail-biting narratives that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Featured image: Lightspring/Shutterstock.com.