The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton
The Brotherhood: When a young woman becomes pregnant in a religious sect, how far will she go to escape the abusive leader and save the people she loves?
The Brotherhood – safe haven or prison?
After her parents’ sudden death, a grieving Melissa falls back on her faith and into the welcoming arms of a religious sect. Captivated by their leader, Dominic, she leaves her old life behind and moves to the countryside to join them.
But life in The Brotherhood is not as safe as it first appeared. When engineer Mark joins The Brotherhood, Melissa finds herself conflicted between her growing feelings for him and her crush on Dominic. With their leader's initial encouragement, Melissa and Mark grow close.
But as her haven becomes a prison, Melissa's newfound happiness is destroyed by Dominic’s jealousy. How can she escape and save the ones she loves?
The main character Melissa is a woman duped into joining a cult. She is fully rounded, not necessarily a hero, but not a victim either. Because of this and because the book is written in the first person, she is easy to identify with. The turmoil she endures becomes personal, wringing every sweaty emotion from the reader.
I can't say where the turmoil stems from as it gives away a twist. What I can say is that it gets dark and uncomfortable at times, which is to the author's credit. There are certain scenes I wish I'd never read, but they are important to the narrative and never gratuitous.
The pace doesn't rush. It keeps at a steady rate, increasing the sense of claustrophobia. The characters are trapped and so is the reader. We are cheek by jowl with some unsavoury situations. The author uses tropes from Gothic horror - a crumbling, stone building, mysterious corridors and locked doors, a pervading sense of gloom – to create an oppressive atmosphere.
The stakes keep getting raised. Rarely have I felt this tense when reading a book, but there was never a question of putting it down. When a book convinces you to ignore Netflix, then you're onto a winner.
I can heartily recommend The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton, which is available from Amazon. Should you enjoy it, please consider leaving a review. It makes a big difference.