Deep in the remote wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Nora is growing up within a militant apocalyptic religious cult. When her father, the group's charismatic leader, discovers his young daughter's gift for speaking in tongues and prophesying, he employs her to recruit people in their community. But as she grows older, Nora begins to question her faith, her father and her predesignated role.
Generous, unblinking ... Hurley stipples Nora’s story, which alternates between a harrowing past and an unsettled present, with erudition ... If moments read overly cinematic, and stretches of dialogue improbably polished, Nora’s endeavors to learn the fates of her family and the cult, even as she knows she must exorcise both from her life, give thoughtful voice to the power of doctrine.
Hurley captures the area's harsh natural beauty in glorious prose, providing the reader some respite in a novel with very few points of light. The visceral descriptions of the cult’s survival techniques... draw the reader into the dark, insular world hidden among the trees. Hurley’s writing is beguiling, working analogously to the rhetoric of the cult ... This is a deeply intimate novel, capturing what is in essence a survivor’s tale.
The story is told through long sequences of flashbacks rendered in convincing biblical intonation, culminating in a major twist that reveals what happened on the day Nora defected, as well as the depth of the manipulation she endured in her childhood. Readers will have a tough time turning away from this chilling dive into fanaticism.