By Brennan LeFaro
Readers, prepare yourselves, for The Cult Called Freedom House is now upon us. Stephanie Evelyn has unleashed her debut novel upon the world, and so long as you think you can take it, you don’t want to miss it.
Evelyn introduces us to Officer Sophia Rey, our protagonist who comes with a bit of baggage. We get to know a bit of her backstory, but I suspect there may be more to unpack in future adventures. In this, the first book in the series, Sophia Rey is investigating the disappearance of a teenager named Samantha. Despite Rey being the titular character, we spend a great deal of time with Samantha. One does not find it over difficult to empathize with the situation Samantha is running from, or the one she’s walking into. We’ve all been that teenager looking for our place in the world.
Maybe it’s the parent in me, but I found myself wanting to take Samantha under my wing. The story hinges on Sophia Rey going undercover to infiltrate Freedom House, not only to find Samantha, but to bare witness to any illegal activities the cult may be party to. The scenes where Sophia is initiated into the house, and makes attempts to contact her unit, are dynamically paced and terrifyingly tense. Then again, there are a lot of moments that are going to have you on the edge of your seat.
This novel has all the makings of a bullet thriller, but what Evelyn puts her characters through knocks it much more neatly into the realm of horror. The book is full, seriously full, of bad things happening, and doing so in a graphic manner. The cult leader, Cyrus, is a miserable hunk of human being, that latter term being applied rather loosely. What makes his characterization work so well is how real he feels. Not to accuse Ms. Evelyn of anything as untoward as being part of a cult, but the novel reads like she certainly did her research.
By the time you close this book, I expect you’ll find yourself stunned and emotionally ravaged. Also, please note that I’ve already anticipated you adding it to your wish list. If you have an interest in cult horror, or even if you just have a strong stomach and enjoy a horror story with well-developed characters, The Cult Called Freedom House needs to be on your radar. I, for one, can’t wait to see what horrors Stephanie Evelyn has to unveil to us next.
I received a copy of the e-book from the author for review consideration