Five Great Books set in Cult Communities

9th February 2019

Five great books set in Cult Communities. Living in a cult community can provide ample material for a good storyline, so we have chosen five novels that delve deep into the attractions and then oftentimes the chill of being caught up in a cult.

Five Great Books set in Cult Communities

Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein, thriller set in SWEDEN

The deadliest trap is the one you don’t see…

Sofia has just finished university and ended a troubled relationship when she attends a lecture about a New Age movement, Via Terra. Its leader is Franz Oswald, young, good-looking, urbane and mesmerizing.

When Sofia meets Franz Oswald, the handsome, charming leader of a mysterious New Age movement, she’s dazzled and intrigued. Visiting his headquarters on Fog Island, Sofia’s struck by the beautiful mansion overlooking the sea, the gardens, the sense of peace and the purposefulness of the people who live there. And she can’t ignore the attraction she feels for Franz.

So she agrees to stay, just for a while. But as summer gives way to winter, and the dense fog from which the island draws its name sets in, it becomes clear that Franz rules the island with an iron fist. No phones or computers are allowed. Contact with the mainland is severed. Electric fences surround the grounds. And Sofia begins to realize how very alone she is and that no one ever leaves Fog Island… (This is the first book of a trilogy)

See you in September by Charity Norman, mystery set in ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND

Cassy smiled, blew them a kiss.
‘See you in September,’ she said.
It was a throwaway line. Just words uttered casually by a young woman in a hurry. And then she’d gone.

It was supposed to be a short trip – a break in New Zealand before her best friend’s wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they’d see her again.

Having broken up with her boyfriend, Cassy accepts an invitation to stay in an idyllic farming collective. Overcome by the peace and beauty of the valley and swept up in the charisma of Justin, the community’s leader, Cassy becomes convinced that she has to stay.

As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group’s rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home – before Justin’s prophesied Last Day can come to pass.

A powerful story of family, faith and finding yourself, See You in September is an unputdownable new novel from this hugely compelling author.

The Girls by Emma Cline, mystery set in CALIFORNIA

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

The Room By The Lake by Emma Dibdin, set near MONTICELLO, New York State

When Caitlin left London for New York, she thought she’d left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the unrelenting pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a strange city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she finds Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. And he wants her to meet his family.

He takes her to a lake house in the middle of the woods – in the middle of nowhere. The community there live off-grid. They believe in regular exercise and group therapy. And they’re friendly. Really friendly.

Turns out they’re not Jake’s real family – but isn’t family exactly what she’s running from?

But as the days drift by, Caitlin starts to feel uneasy. Now that she’s no longer running, does she risk getting lost forever?

The Lingering by S J I Holliday, thriller set in CAMBRIDGESHIRE

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem.

As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

BONUS BOOK:

Halcyon by Rio Youers, novel set in Lake Ontario

Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.

A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Do tell us in the comments below which titles you would add to the list!

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  1. User: barbara baer

    Posted on: 09/02/2019 at 5:53 pm

    “The Lingering” sounds the most unusual of this interesting category that centers around charismatic leaders, girls seeking solace and meaning, and where things ALWAYS go wrong when power over others is not checked. The line between a charismatic personality and a dangerous dictatorial leader is hard to distinguish.

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    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 10/02/2019 at 3:57 pm

      Absolutely…. wise words. The Lingering is certainly an interesting choice!!

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