Review published on July 29, 2016.
Judith has been visiting her mother, Stephanie, in prison once a month for the last eight years. Even now, they find it impossible to talk about what brought them here – Stephanie’s transformation under the influence of a charismatic yet manipulative man, and the horrifying act of violence that changed everything. Do you have to love a parent unconditionally? Can you forgive the things you will never forget ……?
The book’s main theme is extreme Christian fanaticism. Her relationship with Nathaniel, leads Stephanie to take her young daughter, Judith, to a closed off cult where everyone is answerable to the ‘Prophet’.
The book alternates between the ‘then’ and ‘now’. The reader knows the outcome isn’t good as Judith is visiting her mother in prison – which could be described as a ‘spoiler’ but doesn’t detract from the story.
I was unnerved when reading. There is an atmosphere of violence, physical and emotional. Nathaniel’s character evolves slowly until there is no doubt he is a nasty, evil person. He rules the house with a rod of iron putting the fear of god into his ‘disciples’. How far would Stephanie go for Nathaniel. She is totally dominated by him. He preys on weak and lonely people and I wondered if it was totally realistic that adults could be so easily taken in and put themselves under such a person’s control.
The Followers is certainly unsettling and quite dark. However, it does have a happy ending. There are lots of areas for discussion so would recommend it to book groups.
Dorothy Flaxman 4/5
The Followers by Rebecca Wait
Picador 9781447224754 pbk Apr 2016
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