Ashline does a great job describing the slow, and then incredibly rapid, Word of Life transformation from a church to a cult. Because the Irwins documented everything they did, she was able to draw from hours and hours of videos, text messages, journals and more ...
Without a Prayer is terrifying stuff, and Ashline’s clear journalistic narrative style never gets in the way of the story she is telling. There are a lot of characters here and a great deal of action, not to mention the steadily increasing tension that is key to the events. Ashline has control of it all, resulting in a fascinating, heartbreaking and fraught page-turner. The moments in which the book slows down or becomes repetitive are few and far between. More exploration of the distinction between churches and cults would’ve been useful. Still, because Lucas is kept at the center of the book, it remains cogent and cohesive ... Ashline avoids easy judgments in favor of letting the story unfold and the evidence speak for itself ... a powerful and absorbing contribution to the libraries of true crime, sociology and long-form journalism.
Award-winning journalist Ashline’s first book is an in-depth portrait of a cult and its downfall after the murder of one of its members ... Ashline relates the compelling story in painstaking detail, and it can be difficult to keep straight everyone involved (even with a name reference at the beginning), but readers looking for a cult origin story will find this a captivating read.
Basing her work on extensive interviews with former churchgoers, as well as police, prosecutors, and public documents, Ashline skillfully unfolds the events in a compassionate, thoughtful voice ... Readers interested in true crime and cults will be enthralled by this expertly rendered tale of extremism.