The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie

After Emily’s suicide, her childhood friends meet again at her funeral for the first time in 15 years, and it brings up a lot of unresolved trauma. They were the only survivor’s of a mysterious death cult that was based at Read Peak. What really happened there that day? And should they go back and face their fears?

I think up front, something that I didn’t realise about this book is that they weren’t going to go to Red Peak until the end. I kept expecting the adventure to begin, so to speak, and it wasn’t happening. So, I wish that I’d known that and could have just relaxed into it.

The plot and the characters are all really interesting and I actually really liked this book, despite what I just said. The book goes into the current lives of 3 of the survivors and how they are dealing with their trauma, and it moves seamlessly into their memories of their time in the cult too. There’s not alternating chapter, now/then trope here, and I love that. I also like the way that the backstory was revealed. It didn’t hold back, but it left you wanting more. Which is a great balance. It keeps you turning pages. And the characters are all really vivid and not at all stick types, so I cared about them and how they had dealt with what happened and the different ways that turned out for them.

The atmosphere as a whole is ominous and doom laden. At the funeral, the California fires coat everything with ash, and it feels apocalyptic. There’s the sense that the world might be coming to an end. Or not. Or maybe just the worlds that the characters created for themselves were ending. It creates a wonderful dark, intriguing mood that I really liked.

I was drawn to this because it was about a cult. There’s always a mystery at the core of cults. The whys and hows of it all. How could it have happened? Why were people sucked in? Here there is a further mystery, which isn’t a spoiler because we know this hint early on: in this cult, the bodies of the dead were never found. I do love a good mystery. Actually, this book does something I didn’t expect, and moves with it’s apocalyptic mood. In other words, some of the survivor’s of the cult saw things that made them wonder if the cult was actually right or on to some truth. And that was really well handled. It was thought provoking and interesting and a little different. You pick it this book up to learn about the cult and the mystery, but you keep turning as you wonder where it’s all really going.

There were a couple of slow points for me in the middle, probably because I kept wanting them to get going to Red Peak and maybe because I had a personal preference for one character over another. But I enjoyed reading this a lot and it did get under my skin a few times.

Read It If: Obviously this is about a cult, so it’s dark. (Not as dark as many actual cults, but still) So, if you like stories about cults and true crime, check this one out, I think you’ll like it.

Big thank you to the lovely people at HBG Canada for the review copy of this book. I appreciate it. All opinions are of course my own honest thoughts. The Children of Red Peak is out now.

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