Books about cults and cult members

Do they exist? Those secret societies and cults? Real or not, they flourish in the minds of the writers' imagination for sure. These books will tell you how.
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Stupid Children

by Lenore Zion

About the book:  Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers & mdasha cult focused on the?cleansing" of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of the internal organs of farm animals. Jane is quickly initiated into the Second Day Believers, but her father's lingering voice prevents her from becoming entirely indoctrinated. Despite Jane's resistance, she is revere.

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Kraken

by China Miéville

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Children of Paradise

by Laura Secor

About the book:  In the opening pages of this novel, an accident brings a young girl to the attention of the Preacher, the all-powerful leader of a religious cult secluded in the jungle. Trina has only dim memories of the life she lived with her mother before they joined the community and the closed, close society is all she knows. When she is singled out for special favour, it becomes clear that the gaze of the Preacher can be a dangerous thing. As the Preacher's behaviour and the demands he places on his followers become more extreme, Trina's mother begins to question her faith in the charismatic but fatally flawed leader and to dream of an escape from his control.In this powerful re-imagining of the infamous Jonestown tragedy, D'Aguiar writes with the lyrical intensity of a poet, examining the motivations and obsessions that lead to religious fanaticism. This is a novel about the betrayal of faith and of innocence, a story about love, devotion and mania that is a brave attempt to understand the reasoning of people who would, in the end, kill their own children in the prelude to a mass suicide that shocked the world. Although history tells us that the ending of this story can never be anything other than a tragedy, D'Aguiar's compassion, and his ability to draw the reader into the intimate and terrible reality of lives lived at the whim of a corrupt and dangerous cult leader, ensure that in the end this is a story of hope.

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Thinner Than Thou

by Kit Reed

About the book:  In a world that preaches a religion of youth and thinness, middle-aged Jeremy joins a cult health spa only to discover that it is actually a concentration camp, anorexic Annie and her obese friend strive to escape a health convent, and Annie's twin siblings and her boyfriend search for her throughout a gluttonous underground. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.

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Geek Love

by Katherine Dunn

About the book:  Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset. As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Sway

by Ori Brafman,Rom Brafman

About the book:  Three dramatic and emblematic stories intertwine in Sway - the early days of the Rolling Stones; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers. Together they illuminate a decade's rise and fall; its gods and devils; and a particular hour in American history when many young revellers seeking joy, fellowship and liberation fell under a darker spell, leading to unprovoked and inexplicable violence.

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The Shelter Cycle

by Peter Rock

About the book:  An American original, Peter Rock brings our strangest beliefs to vivid and sympathetic life in this haunting novel inspired by true events. The Shelter Cycle tells the story of two children, Francine and Colville, who grew up in the Church Universal and Triumphant, a religion that predicted the world could end in the late 1980s. While their parents built underground shelters to withstand the impending Soviet missile strike, Francine and Colville played in the Montana wilderness, where invisible spirits watched over them. When the prophesized apocalypse did not occur, the sect’s members resurfaced and the children were forced to grow up in a world they believed might no longer exist. Twenty years later, Francine and Colville are reunited while searching for an abducted girl. Haunted by memories and inculcated beliefs, they must confront the Church’s teachings. If all the things they were raised to believe were misguided, why then do they suddenly feel so true?

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Gated

by Amy Christine Parker

About the book:  A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths. Appearances can be deceiving. Lyla Hamilton is a loyal member of the Community. Her family was happy to be chosen by Pioneer to join such an lovely gated neighborhood. Here, life seems perfect. But after meeting Cody, an outsider boy, Lyla starts questioning Pioneer, her friends, her family--everything. And if there's one thing not allowed in the Community, it's doubt. As Pioneer cleverly manipulates his flock toward disaster, the real question is: Will Lyla follow her heart or follow Pioneer over the edge? From the outside looking in, it's hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker's beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike. "A tense psychological thriller that will leave you gasping for breath as you race to the very last page." --Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten HelloGiggles.com, August 3, 2013: "When I found out that there was a YA book about cults, of course I had to read it. As it turns out, Amy Christine Parker’s Gated is an awesome, creepy book that reminds me of my favorite cult films while still being surprising." Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2013: "Parker doesn’t pull punches, indicating a level of brutality that will appropriately disturb even as it successfully conveys Lyla’s complete entrapment in the Community. Compelling and not that distant from real-world cults that have ended in tragedy." Publishers Weekly, June 10, 2013: "Parker skillfully explores the mindset and inner workings of an apocalyptic cult, steadily building toward the inevitable moment of truth...As for the apocalypse itself, Parker keeps things suitably ambiguous, resulting in a complex, intriguing tale rooted in real-world events." School Library Journal, October 2013: "This well-plotted tale will allow readers a glimpse into the possible world of a doomsday cult...The language is accessible, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. After the last page is turned, the question will linger: 'Could I ever be deceived like this?'" Examiner.com "A well-rounded and thorough look into cults while still remaining entertaining throughout. I look forward to reading more of Parker's works in the future." From the Hardcover edition.

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Under the Banner of Heaven

by Jon Krakauer

About the book:  Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Fathermothergod

by Lucia Greenhouse

About the book:  Chronicles the author's coming-of-age in a family whose Christian Science faith forbade consultations with doctors or the use of mainstream medicine, a belief system that caused doubt and bitter divides when the author's mother became seriously ill. A first book. 30,000 first printing.

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The Witness Wore Red

by Rebecca Musser

About the book:  Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family's polygamous lifestyle from the "dangerous" outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people's prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren's father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family. The church, however, had a way of pulling her back in-and by 2007, Rebecca had no choice but to take the witness stand against the new prophet of the FLDS in order to protect her little sisters and other young girls from being forced to marry at shockingly young ages. The following year, Rebecca and the rest of the world watched as a team of Texas Rangers raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a stronghold of the FLDS. Rebecca's subsequent testimony would reveal the horrific secrets taking place behind closed doors of the temple, sending their leaders to prison for years, and Warren Jeffs for life. THE WITNESS WORE RED is a gripping account of one woman's struggle to escape the perverse embrace of religious fanaticism and sexual slavery, and a courageous story of hope and transformation.

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Survivor

by Chuck Palahniuk

About the book:  Tender Branson, the last surviving member of the Creedish death cult, has commandeered a Boeing 747, emptied of passengers, in order to tell his story to the plane's black box before it crashes. Brought up by the repressive cult and, like all Creedish younger sons, hired out as a domestic servant, Tender finds himself suddenly famous when his fellow cult members all commit suicide. As media messiah he ascends to the very top of the freak-show heap before finally and apocalyptically spiralling out of control.

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Trance

by Cathy O'Brien,Mark Phillips

About the book:  In 1974, a tiny band of self-styled urban guerrillas, calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army, abducts a newspaper heiress, who then takes the guerrilla name 'Tania' and shocks the world by choosing to remain with her former captors. Has she been brainwashed? Why else would such a nice girl disavow her loving parents, her adoring fiancé, her comfortable home? Why would she adopt the SLA's cri de guerre, 'Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys Upon the Life of the People'? Soon most of the SLA are dead, killed in a suicidal confrontation with police in Los Angeles, forcing Tania and her two remaining comrades - the pompous and abusive General Teko and his duplicitous lieutenant, Yolanda - into hiding, where they will remain for the next sixteen months. These are the months of Tania's sentimental education.

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The Patron Saint of Butterflies

by Cecilia Galante

About the book:  When her grandmother takes fourteen-year-old Agnes, her younger brother, and best friend Honey and escapes Mount Blessing, a Connecticut religious commune, Agnes clings to the faith she loves while Honey looks toward a future free of control, cruelty, and preferential treatment.

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The Leftovers

by Tom Perrotta

About the book:  From the author of ‘Little Children’ and now a major new TV series, ‘The Leftovers’ asks what if one day some of us simply vanished? And some were left behind?

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Blood and Salt

by Kim Liggett

About the book:  Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror “When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.” These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time. Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt. From the Hardcover edition.

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

by Stephanie Oakes

About the book:  "A handless teen escapes from a cult, only to find herself in juvenile detention and suspected of knowing who murdered her cult leader"--

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Devoted

by Jennifer Mathieu

About the book:  A powerful coming-of-age story from the author of The Truth About Alice Rachel Walker’s family and community have turned away from the world. Every part of Rachel’s life is controlled, from what she reads to where she goes and what she wears. Her parents dictate how her life must be: marriage, modesty, children, and obedience to her future husband. But when a former member of her community, a girl who escaped, moves back to her small Texas town, Rachel’s world turns upside down. She realizes that her life is her own—if only she can find the courage to fight for it. Devoted: A Novel by Jennifer Mathieu is an empowering young adult contemporary novel about self-discovery, by the author of The Truth About Alice and Afterward. An Amelia Bloomer List Top Ten Book "Jennifer Mathieu put her name on the YA map with last year’s heart-wrenching high school bullying novel The Truth About Alice. . . . her sophomore novel is tackling subjects just as difficult: religion and cult, particularly as they relate to young women. Rachel grew up in the Quiverfull movement—one similar to the Duggars’ practices on TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting—but as she finds herself connecting illicitly to the outside world, she starts to wonder if there’s more for her as a woman outside of bearing children." —Bustle

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The Violet Hour

by Whitney A. Miller

About the book:  Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life. As the adopted daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. The other Ministry teens must see her as a paragon of integrity. The world must see her as a future leader. Despite the constant scrutiny, Harlow has managed to keep a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control . . . Praise: “The Violet Hour takes readers on a dark, delicious thrill ride . . . [a] gripping debut.”—Gwenda Bond, author of The Woken Gods

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No Parking at the End Times

by Bryan Bliss

About the book:  Abigail's parents believed the world was going to end. And—of course—it didn't. But they've lost everything anyway. And she must decide: does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut. Abigail's parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the "end of the world." Because now they're living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it's too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss's thoughtful debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.

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