Ahh, cults. Every once in a while, something pops up in the media about these self-contained groups that appear from the outside to be so inherently crazy. When they do surface in the media, it is usually because the cult is smack in the middle of something truly bizarre and dangerous, maybe even sinister.
If you have ever wondered why these groups are appealing to its
members, or how these groups get numbers at all, you could do one or
both of the following: one, take a college level social psychology
course, which I did, and which was fascinating, or you can read
Renewal by H. Perry Horton. Renewal is a lot cheaper and a lot less
time-consuming, and it captures the jist of why cults are appealing and why they survive.
Renewal is another self published gem that I unearthed for the
purposes of my blog, and getting good self published books a little
I chose it because I liked the sample of writing in the description,
and the writing of the actual novel does not disappoint. It is the
story of a man with not much to lose joining a cult to discover what
happened to his half-brother and the resulting mess. There are snips
of sharp, pointed descriptions and lyrical writing and moments that
were clearly painted in my mind’s eye.
In The Better Novel Project, a blog by Christine Frazier where she
breaks down common elements in popular books (and absolutely worth a look),she talks about character’s ultimate needs and desires are love and acceptance, which is his or her ultimate motivation. Renewal demonstrates this through the journey of the main character, Lee, who does not set out for love and acceptance but rapidly becomes sucked into the appeal of having the family that he never really had.
At the beginning of the novel, Lee is a hollow shell, just existing, but the author takes us through a series of events where his character is deepened and becomes increasingly more conflicted and complex. He is not one person throughout the book but experiences many aspects of himself through participation in the cult and the first real experience of love and acceptance. The group makes him a better person, despite its own significant dark side, and makes an intriguing but not initially appealing character appealing. Horton, through his character Lee, shows how cults offer people things that they have never been able to find in the world that they started out in. He shows how with love, acceptance and a purpose people can change within and without. Certainly, positive and self-actualizing change is impossible without it.
The other main recommendation of this book is that the plot is intense
and engaging the entire way through. I was definitely sucked into the “what will happen next?” and I questioned motives of the other players all
the way through, which I liked. It kept my curiosity baited. I
thoroughly expected things to go badly but I wanted to know just how it was going to go badly. And how bad it was going to get. I wanted to know what happened to Lee’s brother and how Lee was going to change along the way. Lee has a knack for of painting himself into corners and the resolution was satisfying.
Renewal is absolutely worth a look if you are into mystery and thriller. I look forward to more novels from H. Perry Horton.