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Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense. David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense. David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind. When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.


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Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense. David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense. David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind. When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

30 review for The Children of Red Peak

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    All the star's! All the star's!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I know I have quite a few friends who love a book involving a cult. I have one right here. This is also the perfect atmospheric read for the transition between fall and winter. The author, Craig DiLouie, is a Bram Stoker Award nominee. David, Deacon, and Beth are survivors of a religious group’s final days living on Red Peak, a remote mountain. They were children at the time, and a lifetime later, the trauma has left its mark. Another survivor passes away, causing the three to reunite. When they d I know I have quite a few friends who love a book involving a cult. I have one right here. This is also the perfect atmospheric read for the transition between fall and winter. The author, Craig DiLouie, is a Bram Stoker Award nominee. David, Deacon, and Beth are survivors of a religious group’s final days living on Red Peak, a remote mountain. They were children at the time, and a lifetime later, the trauma has left its mark. Another survivor passes away, causing the three to reunite. When they do, they begin to question all that happened and why. The secrets are well buried at Red Peak. The Children of Red Peak is both chilling and compelling. There’s a tiny touch of horror here, but mostly it felt like mystery and suspense, while the characters examine their pasts in search of healing from the trauma they experienced. I was completely invested in the mystery of this slow-burning cult novel. I received a gifted copy. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennnifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.D. Barker

    Absolutely riveting... A tapestry of past and present come together in this chilling tale of family, faith, and redemption. Craig DiLouie has a new fan.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    DNF @ 30% no rating I loved DiLouie's Suffer the Children but sadly this one just didn't do it for me. Most of that 30% I spent skimming or distracted by everything around me so it's time to call it quits. DNF @ 30% no rating I loved DiLouie's Suffer the Children but sadly this one just didn't do it for me. Most of that 30% I spent skimming or distracted by everything around me so it's time to call it quits.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    2 Stars "...In all endings there is a beginning."- The Children of Red Peak. REVIEW: Thank you to NetGalley, Redhook Books, and Craig DiLouie for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book follows a group of adults who as children survived a cult's last days at an isolated mountain called Red Peak. Throughout their lives, their experience at Red Peak has caused them significant trauma and has never left them. However, when one of the adults in their group co 2 Stars "...In all endings there is a beginning."- The Children of Red Peak. REVIEW: Thank you to NetGalley, Redhook Books, and Craig DiLouie for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book follows a group of adults who as children survived a cult's last days at an isolated mountain called Red Peak. Throughout their lives, their experience at Red Peak has caused them significant trauma and has never left them. However, when one of the adults in their group commits suicide, they reunite and decide to share their stories and memories of their time in the cult. The group knows that the final answers to all their questions can only be found by going back to Red Peak, but they are afraid of what they might have to sacrifice. I was super excited to read this book because I love books about cults or religious groups. Overall, I thought the story was okay. The story is told through two different timelines: one in the present day, and one when the characters were children and in the cult. I much preferred the timeline that showed the characters in the cult. I wasn't able to really connect with any of the characters and was not invested in their present day-to-day life. Part of this story was a little confusing to me. Sometimes the text would randomly switch between two different character's point-of-view and I would have to reread the section to try to figure out who it was. Also, the story occasionally shifted between the past and the present without a clear indicator of this, and also who's perspective we were reading from. I thought the overall plot was fantastic, and there was so much to work with. I, unfortunately, just think it wasn't executed as well as it could have been. SYNOPSIS: David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind. When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding, and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice. RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2020

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    I cannot wait to dive into my experience with this one for Cemetery Dance. Unique psychological cult horror

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    Cult, the atonement of sins and sacrifice. The ultimate act of faith committed by an entire community who followed their Reverend to cross over to be with God and only 5 children survived to tell about that awful night. It’s been 15 years, and those five children, now all adults, are down to just four. They all received the same letter: I couldn’t fight it anymore. Sweet Emily took her life. They haven’t seen each other in years. Not since their time in group therapy after the incident until e Cult, the atonement of sins and sacrifice. The ultimate act of faith committed by an entire community who followed their Reverend to cross over to be with God and only 5 children survived to tell about that awful night. It’s been 15 years, and those five children, now all adults, are down to just four. They all received the same letter: I couldn’t fight it anymore. Sweet Emily took her life. They haven’t seen each other in years. Not since their time in group therapy after the incident until each of them was sent to foster care or was adopted, but they all struggled in different ways to cope with their past while growing up. This Bram Stoker award-nominated novel tells the story of these cult survivors in their pov’s alternating between the present and the past. It starts of so normal, not perfect by any means: broken families of oftentimes just one parent seeking refuge with Reverend Peale in his community near Red Peak, California. David and his sister Angela, for instance, commute for two days to make a new beginning with their mother, after their father cheated on her and left them. With the signs of an impending apocalypse per Reverend Peale, shortly after 9/11, their mom couldn’t give a darn about what would happen to him or his new girlfriend, as long as she brought her kids to safety. Now, years later, David practices Exit counseling for those trying to get away from Cults, which are plenty around in this country. Unlike Deacon, who now pours all his feelings into music gigging from one low-brow bar to the next trying to catch a break, Beth is a phycologist and has it all together. Somewhat OCD, it is her way of coping: order, patterns, regularity, and that nightly glass of wine that keeps her centered and sane. Angela was the most skeptical of them all during her childhood, and now that they are back in touch with each other, convinces them to go back to Red Peak to fully process and make peace with what happened. In painstaking bits, we follow the characters in this eerie novel into the deepest and darkest places of their souls. There is this slow-burn element of events, that begins to become creepier and creepier giving insight into how easily manipulated the mind can be in the most vulnerable situations as well as the torment to overcome something so horrific. I read this novel rather quickly because I became fairly glued to the suspense and lured into the drama with a need to find out what happened and what these characters will ultimately end up doing. I can’t say this was the most heart-pounding or engrossing novel I have read, but it certainly has the “I can’t look away from this train wreck” attributes. Most awful was the mutilation of the members/parents in the cult that voluntarily starved and sacrificed body parts of themselves to ready for the ultimate passage. Throw in the innocent children, helpless and brainwashed, and you have yourself a subtle and disturbing read such as this one. Like I mentioned, the characters offer an array of personalities and I found myself connecting to many of their thoughts because deep down, they all exhibited vulnerable human traits easily to connect with such as underlying fears, worry, and anxieties, etc. But there were also positive vibes to come across such as their deep childhood connection and friendship, firsts of things like stolen kisses, and straight-up happy child’s play. While the entirety of this mysterious cult unfolds, the reader gains a real sense of the characters in it. If you enjoy a little shock and chill…this could be your next read. Enjoy! I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. All opinions are my own. Thank you! More of my reviews here: Through Novel Time & Distance

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    Thank you Craig DiLouie, NetGalley, and Redhook Books for the opportunity to read this book! The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie is a horror novel mixed with religious cultism. Beth, David, and Deacon are reunited at a funeral for their friend Emily. However, the reason for their friendship remains secretive. They are the survivors of a religious cult when they were children. They all suffer from PTSD and memories that have yet to fully be uncovered. At their reunion, they begin to reveal w Thank you Craig DiLouie, NetGalley, and Redhook Books for the opportunity to read this book! The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie is a horror novel mixed with religious cultism. Beth, David, and Deacon are reunited at a funeral for their friend Emily. However, the reason for their friendship remains secretive. They are the survivors of a religious cult when they were children. They all suffer from PTSD and memories that have yet to fully be uncovered. At their reunion, they begin to reveal what they do know. And what they know is that they need to go back to Red Peak to get answers. This book had me at horror and cult. I thought it would be more of the psychological effects that the cult had on the survivors. It wasn’t. It is more about the characters taking a really long time to decide to go back to Red Peak and then with a supernatural twist at the end. The book ultimately follows two timelines, the past, and the present. I found the past way more fascinating as it showed the days in the cult and how it ultimately devolves. It is horrific. There are moments of mutilation that are pretty descriptive. However, the present storyline added absolutely nothing to the story. It dragged on and on. Then it all came to a point where the author made it seem like cults aren’t that bad. It was bizarre. Then that ending. Ugh. Instead of answers, they get a supernatural twist that just left me like…that’s it? So unfortunately this book was not a win for me. It also may not have been the greatest choice of a read during the 2020 election. I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, it releases November 17th.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    The Children of Red Peak is a horror novel about the survivors of a doomsday cult. When one of the survivors dies by suicide, the remaining survivors set out of discover what truly happen the last night everyone was still alive. The Children of Red Peak is told from three of the survivors’ perspectives, David, Beth, and Deacon, and jumps from the present to the past. I enjoyed David and Beth’s perspectives as they both offered two different viewpoints on the trauma. Though they all suffer from p The Children of Red Peak is a horror novel about the survivors of a doomsday cult. When one of the survivors dies by suicide, the remaining survivors set out of discover what truly happen the last night everyone was still alive. The Children of Red Peak is told from three of the survivors’ perspectives, David, Beth, and Deacon, and jumps from the present to the past. I enjoyed David and Beth’s perspectives as they both offered two different viewpoints on the trauma. Though they all suffer from psychological damage, David seems to have suffered the least. He was focused on his family and career as an exit counsellor. Beth is a psychologist so her perspective offered a more clinical look at the characters and what happened to them. Finally, Deacon is a rock star. His chapters were unbearable. DiLouie often got lost in the nuances of music and music making that I found myself skimming through multiple pages in hopes of getting back to the story. I ended up rating the novel 3.5 stars for two reasons. First, the horror elements do not come into play until later in the novel. DiLouie takes his time situating the characters and setting making the novel feel long at times and not all that spooky. Secondly, the ending didn’t work for me. This is a purely subjective observation. It didn’t work for me, but it may work for me. Though most of my review is negative, I did enjoy my time reading The Children of Red Peak. It’s an interesting story with enjoyable character dynamics. I especially enjoyed Beth’s more clinical perspective contrasted with David’s more human perspective. Overall, The Children of Red Peak is an interesting enough horror novel centered around a mysterious doomsday cult. The horror scenes are brutal and not for the faint of heart. *** I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn in FL

    This story will haunt you long after you finish. It is very consistent with my own experiences being raised in a cult. I find it more than ironic that the group who I ran from still harasses me to the point, that among the many things they hack, they removed my original review... How is that for true to life!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.0 Stars This is a horror story written for anyone obsessed with stories about religious cults. After reading this, I realized that I only have a mild fascination with the topic so the story didn't appeal to me as much as it will for other readers.  Told over two timelines, I found both the past and present to be equally compelling. Most of the story read like general fiction, following the characters as they faced the realities and consequences of cult life. The horror elements really didn't com 3.0 Stars This is a horror story written for anyone obsessed with stories about religious cults. After reading this, I realized that I only have a mild fascination with the topic so the story didn't appeal to me as much as it will for other readers.  Told over two timelines, I found both the past and present to be equally compelling. Most of the story read like general fiction, following the characters as they faced the realities and consequences of cult life. The horror elements really didn't come into the narrative until late into the story and I personally wanted the creep factor to start sooner.  The strongest aspect of this story was the mystery behind the disappearances. I kept turning the pages because I really wanted to know what happened to the rest of the cult on that mountain. Endings in horror books are notoriously finicky and, unfortunately, this was one of those endings that did not entirely work for me. If you are one of those people that are fascinated by the psychological power of religious cults then I would definitely recommend this novel. While it was not a personal favourite, I still appreciated the author's creativity in writing a unique horror twist on such a classic narrative. Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publicist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    This book had me at a cult. All things to do with cults hold a near magnetic fascination for me. And in that respect it certainly didn’t disappoint. The cult here is front and center and remains the most prominent feature of the novel. A peace loving Christian commune that evolves/devolves into a terrifying doomsday cult and results with its members self mutilating, dying and…disappearing. Yes, just vanishing. Dubbed The Medford Mystery after the cult’s second and most lethal location, it remain This book had me at a cult. All things to do with cults hold a near magnetic fascination for me. And in that respect it certainly didn’t disappoint. The cult here is front and center and remains the most prominent feature of the novel. A peace loving Christian commune that evolves/devolves into a terrifying doomsday cult and results with its members self mutilating, dying and…disappearing. Yes, just vanishing. Dubbed The Medford Mystery after the cult’s second and most lethal location, it remains unsolved for 15 years. Meanwhile, it’s only survivors, five kids, had what seemed like sufficient amounts of therapy and managed to have pretty normal lives. Surprisingly normal, considering that they were teenagers and almost teenagers while witnessing these tragedies and the scarring on one’s psyche from such things must be considerable. Each of the five has developed their own coping techniques, drinking, music, denial, etc. One became a cult deprogrammer, one a shrink. And one killed herself just as the fifteen year anniversary of the tragedy approaches. It is her funeral and subsequent reunion of the now adult survivors that triggers a variety of unresolved emotions and it seems that the only way to get the answers they need is to do the very thing they’ve been so deliberately avoiding all this time and go back to the source. And so there you have it, the children of the Red Peak, young people indelibly emotionally crippled by a terrible tragedy, confronting their demons. Quite literally. So first off, while undeniably horrific, this is much more along the lines of dark psychological drama/thriller and very much a character driven one at that. As such, the characters are crucially important, but not all created equally. Some are most compelling, some less so. Deacon, the musician, is over the top emo, though he’d hate that, because he thinks of himself as more along the lines of punk goth. With his Latin and Greek profundities inked body and his unrealized romantic longings and his black clothing, he is goth, all right, but kind of emo mopey about it. Though his greatest tragedy seems to be no talent for song writing, from early years to now his song lyrics are just crap, very basic, very flat. If they hadn’t been included, my imagination would have provided him with much nicer writer tracks. Beth, the shrink, and Deacon’s love interest for all these years, is a tightly controlled mess of a person, with neatly organized life and career and wine for whenever the control threatens to slip away. There’s David, the soul of the novel, really, the youngest of the bunch, who went on to have a productive life as a family man and a talk therapist for cult members, not quite a deprogrammer, but an exit consultant. And his sister, the gorgeous cop, the eldest and therefore most cynical and most brave. And there was Emily, the suicide. So that’s the main cast of characters, variously unevenly likeable, but all admirable in their own way having been able to actively build a life overcoming such a devastating event. The thing of it is, though, the trick they all seemed to have employed, is putting their past aside, either deliberately of subconsciously, forgetting or forcing themselves not to think about it, which is arguably the best way to deal with this sort of thing. Though not according to the therapy ideology, which demands it all analyzed and processed. Well, some processes are deadly. And what if the thing they all agreed on had to be hallucinated by their disturbed minds was in fact real? Did the bodies levitate and disappear? Follow them to the Red Peak and find out. Frankly, the ending was something of a letdown for me, I expected more than vagueness provided and more from the characters, but it worked and I can (intellectually if not emotionally) understand how it did. But the book itself was really good, so well written, so excellently atmospherically dark, so engaging. Terrific introduction to a new (to me) author. Fans of dark supernatural tinged fiction ought to enjoy this. Fans of fiction about cults…it’s a must. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    Reading The Children of Red Peak gave me serious chills — but I’m not sure whether this story needed the horror/supernatural element to have that effect. How can a story about childhood survivors of a death cult be anything but horrifying? In The Children of Red Peak, we meet the three main characters — David, Beth, and Deacon, at the funeral of their childhood friend, Emily. Emily has committed suicide, leaving a note that says simply “I couldn’t fight it anymore”. Fifteen years earlier, these fo Reading The Children of Red Peak gave me serious chills — but I’m not sure whether this story needed the horror/supernatural element to have that effect. How can a story about childhood survivors of a death cult be anything but horrifying? In The Children of Red Peak, we meet the three main characters — David, Beth, and Deacon, at the funeral of their childhood friend, Emily. Emily has committed suicide, leaving a note that says simply “I couldn’t fight it anymore”. Fifteen years earlier, these four people, plus David’s older sister Angela, were the sole survivors of a brutal yet mysterious mass suicide out in the desert at a location known as Red Peak. A religious congregation, led by their pastor, endured weeks of starvation, hard labor, and mutilations before finally drinking poison (and murdering those who balked) — all with the goal of gaining eternal life in heaven, leaving behind the rest of the world to suffer the end times. The survivors were all teens at the time, and after their rescue and extended psychological treatment, they eventually went their separate ways and made lives for themselves. But none are truly happy, and none can really explain what happened on that terrible day at Red Peak. Through chapters that alternate between Beth, David, and Deacon’s perspectives, we learn about their varied current lives — Beth is a psychologist, Deacon an up-and-coming rock star, and David a cult exit counselor. We also see the characters start to allow their memories to resurface, so we get the backstory of the Family of the Living Spirit, its road to ruin, and the events of the final day in bits and pieces, until they eventually add up to a disturbing, terrible whole. While there is a mysterious supernatural (religious?) element that comes into play, for me the true impact of this book lies in the description of the Family of the Living Spirit’s trajectory toward destruction. When we’re introduced to this community, they are a peaceful, religious, spiritual group living off the land on a small farm, devoted to the worship of the Living Spirit, but also living a joyful, celebratory life. It’s only when the pastor discovers a miracle in the desert that the group’s emphasis on gaining eternal life kicks into high gear. With growing fervor for the apocalypse and their crossing over, the congregation evolves quickly into a doomsday cult. Choices are removed, blind obedience is emphasized, and increasingly destructive behaviors are held up as testaments to faith. It’s horrible, especially as we see these events through the eyes of people who were children at the time. I’m not sure that I loved the climax and conclusion of The Children of Red Peak. The story of the cult and its destructive power is the true horror — for me, the addition of a supernatural element seems almost beside the point. Yes, it’s all very scary and horrifying, but even if this story were just about the delusions and failings of a group of brainwashed people, it would be just as scary and horrifying. Maybe even more so? The ending gives us a way out, so to speak. It allows for the possibility that the group’s beliefs might actually have had some sort of fulfillment, in its own awful way. And truly, there are no excuses. Whether the events were the work of a supernatural or divine being, it still resulted in suffering, death, and the permanent psychological damage done to the children who survived. The Children of Red Peak is thought-provoking and utterly devastating. I came to really care about the characters, and found the entire story and the characters’ various endings heart-breaking and tragic. This is a powerful read, and I just wish I had someone to talk about it with! Craig DiLouie is a gifted writer, and I will gladly read whatever he writes next. Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Craig DiLouie’s THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK is a terrifying look into life in a religious cult where the children are the innocent victims. From memories suppressed to memories that are continual nightmares four adults attempt to cope with their pasts and one take the final escape and then there were three who will come together to finally put the ghosts of the past to rest. Thought-provoking and frightening, one leader will use abuse, fear and religion to control his flock. Years later, will delvi Craig DiLouie’s THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK is a terrifying look into life in a religious cult where the children are the innocent victims. From memories suppressed to memories that are continual nightmares four adults attempt to cope with their pasts and one take the final escape and then there were three who will come together to finally put the ghosts of the past to rest. Thought-provoking and frightening, one leader will use abuse, fear and religion to control his flock. Years later, will delving into the mysteries of Red Peak free three souls to heal and move forward? The element of horror and mystery is excellent, the atmosphere is dark and heavy as long buried secrets come to the surface. My only issue: the characters fell rather flat for me as adults although the reliving of their pasts was very well done. A little horror, a lot of veiled mystery and pain in this intense read. I received a complimentary ARC edition from Redhook Books! This is my honest and voluntary review. Publisher : Redhook (November 17, 2020) Genre: Psychological Thriller Print Length : 384 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    The Children of Red Peak is one of those books whose premise offers up a lot of tantalizing potential and demands your attention, but which ultimately fails to fully live up to expectations. Branded as "Heaven's Gate by way of Stephen King's IT" in author Peter Clines's blurb, I was fully expecting Craig DiLouie's latest to captivate and excite me. I mean, CULTS! Religious Terror! Ritualistic human sacrifice and group massacres! Unfortunately, while certain aspects of the story and execution wor The Children of Red Peak is one of those books whose premise offers up a lot of tantalizing potential and demands your attention, but which ultimately fails to fully live up to expectations. Branded as "Heaven's Gate by way of Stephen King's IT" in author Peter Clines's blurb, I was fully expecting Craig DiLouie's latest to captivate and excite me. I mean, CULTS! Religious Terror! Ritualistic human sacrifice and group massacres! Unfortunately, while certain aspects of the story and execution worked me, I found an almost equal number of problems that ultimately left me cold. Fifteen years ago, the Family of the Living Spirit packed up from their commune and headed into the desert, following the visions of their leader, Father Jeremiah. At the top of Red Peak, they sacrificed themselves, leaving behind only five children. In the present day, one of those former cultists, Emily, has taken her own life, and at her funeral the four remaining friends begin to reconnect and confront the traumas of their past. They begin to realize that if they're ever going to recover from the traumas of their old lives, they have to face their own personal demons -- real or imagined -- head on and return to Red Peak. As far as set-ups go, DiLouie has a corker here, to be sure. The Living Spirit cult, in order to prove their love for God, subject themselves to self-inflicted mutilations and deprive themselves of food and water while constructing a massive staircase to the top of Red Peak. The emotional tolls and psychic damage that was inflicted upon this small group of surviving children, who we come to know as adults, is enormous, and the things they were forced to observe is absolutely horrific. Unfortunately, The Children of Red Peak is a slow-burn, and I mean slooooooow. I almost hesitate to even call this book a work of horror, and if it weren't for the occasional and super brief glimpses of an ancient entity, this book would more easily be classified as literary psychological suspense. It deals with horrific elements to be sure, but DiLouie is heavily focused here on the aftermath of those incidents and the ways this group has learned to cope. It's not even until 70% of the way through that DiLouie begins to start revealing the awful memories buried in Beth's mind. Up to that point, we're treated to plodding visits to psychiatrist conferences and emo goth rock concerts where Deacon, the cult survivor turned band leader, plots out a concept album inspired by his childhood. While the examination of cults and the long-term psychological abuse that is religious extremism (some might argue, not incorrectly, religious belief, period) are supremely fascinating and well researched, it literally takes forever for this book to go anywhere. This small group of survivors talk repeatedly about returning to Red Peak, and then talk about it some more, and then discuss it again, and then think about it for a while, and then think about discussing it again, and then wonder what the others in the group think and whether they should hash it all out once more, and then, holy fucking shit, are they EVER actually going to go there?! Hold on, let's talk about this some more! Sorry, Peter Clines, but the return to Derry, this is not. Yes, The Children of Red Peak does have a few sparks of interesting ideas, and yes, it is emotionally impactful. But. There's no real energy to it, and by the time we reach the big climax, the grand reveal, it all feels like such a massive copout that I wondered why I had invested so much of my time in this book when I could have just watched Star Trek V again. Sure, it would have been just as painful and numbing, but it would have been so much quicker...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: DiLouie explores the emotional aftermath of surviving a doomsday cult in his latest, a dark and atmospheric tale steeped in mystery. The Children of Red Peak is my third Craig DiLouie book, and once again I’m in awe of his storytelling skills and the way he is able to evoke emotions. DiLouie tends to choose dark topics for I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: DiLouie explores the emotional aftermath of surviving a doomsday cult in his latest, a dark and atmospheric tale steeped in mystery. The Children of Red Peak is my third Craig DiLouie book, and once again I’m in awe of his storytelling skills and the way he is able to evoke emotions. DiLouie tends to choose dark topics for his stories—racism, war and now cults—and his books are not always easy to read, but each one has been a powerful experience for me, and his latest is no exception. And while Our War is still my favorite of his books that I’ve read, I thought The Children of Red Peak was a solid story with plenty of emotional impact. DiLouie alternates between the past and the present and tells the story of a group of children—now adults—who were the only survivors of a doomsday cult called the Family of the Living Spirit. Back in 2005, Deacon, Beth, Angela, David and Emily managed to escape that horrifying night when over a hundred cult members died. Despite a bloody crime scene, none of the bodies were ever found, and the infamous event is now referred to as the Medford Mystery. Now fifteen years later, the survivors find themselves together again under unfortunate circumstances. Emily has committed suicide, and the other four are attending her funeral. This fateful meeting triggers horrifying memories and emotions, as Deacon, Beth, Angela and David are faced with the biggest mystery from their past: what actually happened that last night on Red Peak? With the anniversary date of the event approaching, the four must come to terms with their feelings about the cult by confronting their past one final time. I’ve always been fascinated with cults, and I have vague memories from childhood of some of the more infamous ones. I remember the Jonestown Massacre and how shocked I was that something like that could even happen. DiLouie bases his story on cults like that one, giving the Family a charismatic leader named Jeremiah Peale who convinces his followers that only by dying can they hope to escape the coming apocalypse. The most horrific part of all this, at least for me, was that so many children were involved in his scheme, forced into it by their parents and brainwashed to believe that death was the way to salvation. DiLouie’s most emotional scenes were the ones when the bad shit is going down and the kids suddenly realize that they are actually going to die. It would have been heartbreaking enough without children involved, but adding them to the mix made it nearly unbearable. Overall, I really loved the structure and the author’s decision to use a dual timeline to tell his story. We get to see the effects of childhood trauma and how each survivor has been able to move forward with their lives—or not, in some cases. Beth seems to be the most settled, and has become a successful clinical psychologist. Her personal life is neat and tidy, at least on the outside, but we later learn that Beth is not doing well at all emotionally, and has suppressed her memories of the final night at Red Peak. Over the course of the story, her weaknesses are revealed little by little. David is the only one who is married with children, his family acting as an anchor of sorts and allowing him the semblance of a normal life. David has dealt with his trauma by becoming an “exit counselor,” someone who tries to get cult members to leave their cults before it’s too late. His job is hard and emotional, but it makes him feel like he’s helping others, the sort of help he wasn’t able to get himself. Then there’s Deacon, who hasn’t really grown up at all. He fronts a rock band called Cats are Sad, which seems to be on the brink of success, but Emily’s suicide changes his focus. Deacon feels compelled to write a concept album with fellow band member Laurie about his experiences in the cult, but the emotions it stirs up make him question everything he’s doing. The fourth surviving member, David’s older sister Angela, decides that the only way to put the past to rest is to revisit Red Peak on the day of the fifteenth anniversary, and the others reluctantly agree to join her. I loved that all four adults are dealing with the aftermath of their experience in different ways, which all seemed on point and believable. Interspersed among the chapters that take place in the present, DiLouie slowly reveals how these characters came to be part of the Family of the Living Spirit, the idyllic beginnings when the Family lived on a remote farm in central California, growing their own crops and raising livestock for food, the carefree days when the children of the group were free to wander the land and form bonds with each other. The author drops hints about the impending horror to come—hard labor, starvation and even mutilations—but the reader doesn’t get the full story until much later in the book.  And this might be a good time to throw in a couple of trigger warnings, although you’ve probably already guessed what they are. The “mutilation” teaser obviously comes into play near the end, as well as murder, withholding food and drink (especially upsetting with the children), and forced suicide. DiLouie packs a lot of action and pain into the final chapters of his story, and he even suggests a supernatural reason for the disappearance of all the bodies. But it isn’t until the four survivors make the fateful trek back to Red Peak that we finally get some answers about what happened. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending, to be honest. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it was DiLouie’s trademark emotional gut punch, and even if it was a bit over the top, it certainly made an impact on me.  I do have one issue that might be fixed in the final book as I write this review, but I want to mention it anyway. Obviously DiLouie wrote his story before Covid, hence the present day setting in 2020. However, I have to admit the "2020" chapters felt awkward to me, knowing that the 2020 I was reading about wasn’t the 2020 we’re all experiencing today. I did read an ARC, however, and it's possible the dates were changed in the final edition. Writing this has made me realize that Covid has forever changed the way we think about 2020 (and probably 2021), and that writers are going to have to decide whether or not to set their books during this time period. I guess that’s a topic for another blog post, but I had to mention it because it did affect my reading experience. Craig DiLouie’s books always give me plenty to think about, and I’m still mulling over the events of The Children of Red Peak , days after I finished reading it. Readers who aren’t afraid to dive deep into the realities of cults will most likely find this book both fascinating and terrifying. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review in the October 1, 2020 issue of Booklist Magazine and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/09... [link lie on 9/30/20 at 7am] Three Words That Describe This Book: Beautiful, Terrifying, Religious Cults Last sentence of draft: This is an emotionally devastating, yet ultimately hopeful horror story about trauma, the healing power of love, family, and friendship, and the unexplainable forces, with unknowable motives, that surround us all. A great choice for fans of The Only Good Ind Review in the October 1, 2020 issue of Booklist Magazine and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/09... [link lie on 9/30/20 at 7am] Three Words That Describe This Book: Beautiful, Terrifying, Religious Cults Last sentence of draft: This is an emotionally devastating, yet ultimately hopeful horror story about trauma, the healing power of love, family, and friendship, and the unexplainable forces, with unknowable motives, that surround us all. A great choice for fans of The Only Good Indians by Jones, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Tremblay or The Hunger by Katsu.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Thanks to NetGalley and RedHook for the chance to read the eARC of this! The Children of Red Peak is about child survivors of a cult, reunited years later after one of their friends commits suicide. After meeting up at the funeral, and sharing stories, memories start to resurface and they all begin to question what really happened that night that everything fell apart - what happened to their families? The Children of Red Peak has two timelines, the present day where the characters reunite, and l Thanks to NetGalley and RedHook for the chance to read the eARC of this! The Children of Red Peak is about child survivors of a cult, reunited years later after one of their friends commits suicide. After meeting up at the funeral, and sharing stories, memories start to resurface and they all begin to question what really happened that night that everything fell apart - what happened to their families? The Children of Red Peak has two timelines, the present day where the characters reunite, and look at returning to Red Peak, and the past when they were growing up and their commune slowly grew into an unstable cult, culminating at their final days at Red Peak, I did have a marked preference between the two timelines, far preferring what happened over what was currently happening, but both timelines are important and interesting in their own way. I do have an exceptional fondness for books about cults, so I did have a bit of a bias with this one, immediately enjoying the background story in their lives as children, showing how the commune began, the friendships they built, and the evolution from backwoods commune to religious cult. I continued to enjoy the book, and the story about the cult, right up until the very end. It felt abrupt and was sort of unfulfilling, which was disappointing after such an intriguing build up. It wasn’t a bad ending, it just felt a bit lacklustre compared to the memories the characters were rebuilding as the story went on. Despite the ending not working great for me, the rest of the book is really fun, and for any other reader with that unhealthy interest in reading all the stories they can about cults, this is definitely one to add to the reading list.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brandy {The Review Booth}

    Children of Red Peak was a slow burn story, and you unearth what happened to the Family from the survivor’s memories as they do. Given what the children went through leading up to the last days at Red Peak, I can see why they spent their entire lives trying to have any semblance of normalcy in their lives with varying degrees of success. While the story itself was interesting, had good pacing, and kept my interest, it lacked that spark for me. I’m undecided on how I feel about the ending – it fe Children of Red Peak was a slow burn story, and you unearth what happened to the Family from the survivor’s memories as they do. Given what the children went through leading up to the last days at Red Peak, I can see why they spent their entire lives trying to have any semblance of normalcy in their lives with varying degrees of success. While the story itself was interesting, had good pacing, and kept my interest, it lacked that spark for me. I’m undecided on how I feel about the ending – it felt a little predictable and not genuinely believable. The story unfolds through three different points of view – David, Deacon, and Beth. Each survivor bears the burden of their past with the Family in their own way. I was surprised that we never experience Angela’s point of view, and it makes me wonder what it would be like – especially since she was a skeptic of the Family, at best. While Angela wasn’t mentioned in the synopsis, I held out hope that she would get a chapter or two. In addition to the three points of view, there are also two separate timelines – past and present. At times I had to go back a little bit to see whose viewpoint I was currently in and what time frame I was currently reading in. Craig DiLouie did a top-notch job at encompassing how groups like the Family have positives as well. If delving into religious subjects isn’t your thing, you may not enjoy this book. It also contains extreme religious beliefs, self-harm in the form of religious purification, suicide, and homicide – they’re described in detail. For a minute there the psychology speak and terms bogged the story down. I’m not one for having to look things up while reading for clarification. I would recommend Children of Red Peak to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers, cults/doomsday cults, religious organizations, and the supernatural. A big thank you to Redhook Books for the gifted copy to read and review – all opinions are my own. *Rounded from 3.5 stars*

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    This is my first Craig DiLouie book and it definitely won't be my last.. I know it sounds wrong to say I enjoyed a book about a doomsday death cult....but I really did. I was riveted. The Children of Red Peak is a mystery that evolves into a bit of a horror novel. It bounces back and forth between present day and fifteen years prior when the "cult events" took place. This story follows three main characters, David, Deacon and Beth. They each survived the suicide/death pact of the cult, along with This is my first Craig DiLouie book and it definitely won't be my last.. I know it sounds wrong to say I enjoyed a book about a doomsday death cult....but I really did. I was riveted. The Children of Red Peak is a mystery that evolves into a bit of a horror novel. It bounces back and forth between present day and fifteen years prior when the "cult events" took place. This story follows three main characters, David, Deacon and Beth. They each survived the suicide/death pact of the cult, along with two others. We get a lot of their perceptions of the events leading up to the fateful day fifteen years ago. The day that everyone either committed suicide or killed those who were unwilling to. Then the bodies mysteriously disappeared. The five teenagers who survived have each struggled with the events of that day and dealt with it in their own way. For the most part, they are each still haunted by it. Early in this book, one of their friends has committed suicide. Her funeral brings them all together for the first time in years. With the fifteenth anniversary quickly approaching, they discuss revisiting Red Peak to try to put their "ghosts" to rest. I think the author did a great job of demonstrating how this experience has shaped David, Deacon and Beth. He shows how damaged they each are and that they aren't sure how to fix it. I would have liked to know more about David's sister, Angela who was also a survivor. We get a small portion of her insight later in the book. I think she was a character that had a great deal of potential. I loved the flashback scenes when the reader had an opportunity to see how each of these young people cared about their parents and the leader of their cult. It was easy to see how caught up in it all they were. Then things took a bizarre turn and they were quickly frightened of where it was heading. I was a fan of blending past and present this way. I really liked the way it helped the overall storyline to flow. I liked the premise of the cult as the basis for this story with the extra add-0n of an unknown force. It amped up the creep factor and made the book even harder to put down. Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to review this book and the opinions contained within are my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    "The hardest thing about escaping a cult wasn’t leaving but making sure it had left you." I really loved this book almost all the way through (even though I'm not usually a big fan of books about cults). But, for me, the ending was not good. Some people will be okay with it but, for me, it was too ambiguous. The story focuses on five adults in 2020 that lived through a mysterious mass death cult experience in 2005. Now one of the members decides they can't go on anymore and that triggers the group "The hardest thing about escaping a cult wasn’t leaving but making sure it had left you." I really loved this book almost all the way through (even though I'm not usually a big fan of books about cults). But, for me, the ending was not good. Some people will be okay with it but, for me, it was too ambiguous. The story focuses on five adults in 2020 that lived through a mysterious mass death cult experience in 2005. Now one of the members decides they can't go on anymore and that triggers the group into wanting to go back to the death site and try to regain their memories and find answers. This was an in-depth look at growing up in a cult, both from the positive and negative sides. The character development was done in depth, giving the reader an insider look at different viewpoints at living in a cult. There were definite supernatural and horror aspects in the story, which added to the storyline. So I highly recommend this book, after you take into account what I've written above. I received this book from Redhook Books through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie. Thanks to @redhook for the Arc in exchange for an honest review ⭐️⭐️ A group of cult suicide survivors band together to try to figure out what happened to their families as kids. I enjoyed the story of when they were children, but had a really difficult time keeping interested in their lives as adults. Each had their own story, but I didn’t feel they were developed well enough. Their time as kids in the cult were really the only parts that I found enjoya The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie. Thanks to @redhook for the Arc in exchange for an honest review ⭐️⭐️ A group of cult suicide survivors band together to try to figure out what happened to their families as kids. I enjoyed the story of when they were children, but had a really difficult time keeping interested in their lives as adults. Each had their own story, but I didn’t feel they were developed well enough. Their time as kids in the cult were really the only parts that I found enjoyable. I wish there had been a lot more of that, and less present day. The ending left me a bit uncomfortable, as I’m still not entirely sure what happened.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve Stred

    First off, huge thanks to Netgalley, Redhook the publisher and Craig DiLouie for approving me for a digital ARC of 'The Children of Red Peak.' I would've had this read and reviewed by release date, but I didn't find this until late last week after seeing Michael Patrick Hicks post that he was reading it. I hit request, believing whole-heartedly I wouldn't get approved with the release date looming, but thank you for the approval. Saying that - AHHHHHHHHHHHH and ERRRRGGGHHHHHHHH I absolutely loved First off, huge thanks to Netgalley, Redhook the publisher and Craig DiLouie for approving me for a digital ARC of 'The Children of Red Peak.' I would've had this read and reviewed by release date, but I didn't find this until late last week after seeing Michael Patrick Hicks post that he was reading it. I hit request, believing whole-heartedly I wouldn't get approved with the release date looming, but thank you for the approval. Saying that - AHHHHHHHHHHHH and ERRRRGGGHHHHHHHH I absolutely loved this book and absolutely hated this book. I blame you MPH, you SOB! haha! In July of this year, I came across a complete paperback set of The Dark Tower series on Facebook Marketplace. I immediately went to pick it up and while chatting with the man (aka capitalbookreview on Instagram) we shared some books we'd read that were page turners. He asked if I'd read 'Suffer the Children' by DiLouie and I was pretty sure I had. Turns out - I hadn't. Turns out - I didn't even own it. So, I snagged the Kindle version and was going to start it last week... until this approval! What I liked: 'The Children of Red Peak' follows a group of child hood friends, now grown up, trying to come to terms with the events in their burgeoning teens. While they were all 14 and 15, their parents moved them to a religious group in search of the Holy Spirit. While here, their enigmatic leader, Jeremiah, hears of a miracle at the top of Red Peak. DiLouie puts forth that the Family of the Living Spirit is a cult and as such treats it as one, but for the most part, I found it sounded a lot like devoted religious people who have turned their backs of society. Of course, with the promise of ascension and eternal life, we fall more into Heaven's Gate cult territory, but for the first 75% of the book, it's fairly mundane worship stuff. I loved the small snippets of flashbacks and even the memories shared of the final night. DiLouie does have a very easy way of writing and I found I was feverishly turning the pages, even if I was growing frustrated at times. I just simply wanted to know what happened, which I think at the heart of any phenomenal writer and any stunning book, is the biggest key to unlock that door for the reader. The draw, the pull, the intrigue. Along the way we get to learn more and more about the fall out from the survivors shared horrors and more pointedly, just what happened in the weeks leading up to and then the final night itself. DiLouie has woven such a stunning story within the story that this was truly what wrapped around my readers brain and pulled me through the rest of the book. Because... What I didn't like: At its heart 'The Children of Red Peak' is a philosophical look at life and religion. While this can work well, for me it took up far too much property. Time and time again, we'd get small snippets of back story and then chapter after chapter of what was happening now. The entire premise of the story was the survivors returning to Red Peak 15 years later and seriously - this doesn't even occur until about the 80% mark. I also want to mention the 15 year anniversary idea. We get a lot of present day story. About David being a cult exit counsellor, and Beth being a psychologist and Deak being a rock star (with far too much time dedicated to his concept album, his shows) etc, but the entire time I read this I was picturing them all as 40 somethings, not recently having turned 30. The age was jarring and at times had thrown me for a loop. And lastly (I mean there's other things but I won't spoil everything!) the climax. The finale. A few pages for each person, a few pages of finale. I was pissed off. I wanted to throw my Kindle. I immediately messaged Michael to complain about how I wanted so much more. GODDDDDD! I'm still furious haha! DAMN YOU DILOUIE! You had me chasing that carrot all the way up the friggin' hillside only to learn nothing. Maybe that was part of it? Maybe that was a thematic door jam. Popped in there to work metaphorically about the nature of faith and blind following? You die and then it's over? The book definitely had me thinking, but at the same time, I'm still angry about how it played out. Why you should buy this: DiLouie is an absolutely beast of a writer. I'm ashamed to not have read 'Suffer the Children' now and even more ashamed that I had no idea he was only three hours south in Calgary.  'The Children of Red Peak' will be one of those books where you either love it or hate it. Either way, it is a fast-paced read that will have you thinking and while it didn't answer the questions I wanted answered, it may for you. I'm sticking with my initial assessment here - I absolutely loved this book and absolutely hated it. Which for many folks would indicate DiLouie did his job perfectly.

  24. 5 out of 5

    coty ⚡

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. a very tense and atmospheric cult thriller. dilouie writes cleanly but with heart, attentive to the plot and the details; multiple points of view merge nicely over the years they're explored, from childhood to adulthood, as we journey through the family's shift from peaceful-if-a-little-creepy to certifiable cult. i enjoy the care with each dilouie depicts trauma, both when it's inflicted and as his characters begin to heal; it really feels as if he cares about a proper portrayal of mental healt a very tense and atmospheric cult thriller. dilouie writes cleanly but with heart, attentive to the plot and the details; multiple points of view merge nicely over the years they're explored, from childhood to adulthood, as we journey through the family's shift from peaceful-if-a-little-creepy to certifiable cult. i enjoy the care with each dilouie depicts trauma, both when it's inflicted and as his characters begin to heal; it really feels as if he cares about a proper portrayal of mental health, rather than weaponizing it for the horror, as is so common in the genre. while for me, personally, the ending is a little flat (too cliched; though predictability isn't a bad thing, especially if you have the style to make it feel fresh) i wanted something more. my main issue stems not from the conclusion, however, and rather from the presentation of the women within the narrative; there's definitely an attempt for them to be more than just love interests, with beth especially, but even she falls victim to being primarily characterized by her relative attractiveness and romance with deacon. david's wife is so unmemorable i can't even recall her name, existing solely as his wife and nothing more - while emily also only serves as a lover, even in the flashback chapters, rarely given personality beyond that of a childhood romance for david. it drags down the work and makes it difficult to appreciate the story when the story feels to obviously favor the men. had the characterization been more balanced, even with such a lackluster ending, this could've easily been a 4 star read; but it serves as a nice introduction to dilouie, and i am interested in exploring more of his work. i received an arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ann Reinking

    Well, who doesn’t like a good doomsday cult novel, right?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Patrick Carolan

    Leisure reading time is rather hard for me to come by right now, so whenever I start a new book I want to be sure it’s one I’ll like. Well, as sure as one can be about such things, anyway. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Craig DiLouie’s earlier books ONE OF US and OUR WAR, his latest novel THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK was among my most anticipated releases of 2020. Classified as Horror, this is a book that defied genre tropes and explores the darker aspects of human nature, both in groups and in Leisure reading time is rather hard for me to come by right now, so whenever I start a new book I want to be sure it’s one I’ll like. Well, as sure as one can be about such things, anyway. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Craig DiLouie’s earlier books ONE OF US and OUR WAR, his latest novel THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK was among my most anticipated releases of 2020. Classified as Horror, this is a book that defied genre tropes and explores the darker aspects of human nature, both in groups and in individuals. Fifteen years ago, five youngsters survived the grisly final days of the Family of the Living Spirit in the shadow of Red Peak. The bodies of the dead were never found, leading to the incident being known as the Medford Mystery (after the nearby town) and sowing confusion about what really happened among the survivors. When one of their fellow survivors commits suicide as the anniversary draws near, David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris find themselves reunited at her funeral and forced to face those lingering questions from the cult’s final days. Craig DiLouie excels in creating compelling, complex characters, and intertwining their individual stories to create something that is more than a sum of its parts (a technique he employed to great effect in both ONE OF US and OUR WAR). Any one of David, Deacon, or Beth could’ve carried an entire novel on their own, but by braiding their narratives the reader is given a richly layered examination of theme and different perspectives on events both present and long past. THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK is a slow burn, but certainly a rewarding one, as the reader follows each of the three coming to terms with their past in their own ways. Each draws on their childhood experience in their current professional lives; David as a cult exit counselor, Beth as a psychologist, and Deacon as a black-clad, heavily-tattooed musician. As the story progresses, we also see how their personal lives have been affected by what they went through. They’re all coping in the best way they can, with varying degrees of success. In each of their stories, we see how David, Deacon, and Beth have internalized their trauma and built some sort of life over the last fifteen years. DiLouie is not one to gloss things over, though, and rightly portrays these characters as troubled and flawed, each a maelstrom storming under a veneer of functionality. Mild spoilers; fairly warned be thee, says I: (view spoiler)[Flashback chapters trickle out vivid remembrances of life with the Family of the Living Spirit, tracing the group’s metamorphosis from an idyllic commune focused on simple living and piety, to a fanatical cult defined by acts of physical sacrifice and repentance that go well beyond flagellation, a shift marked when the Family moves from their farm to nearby Red Peak. The cultists, believing their ascension is imminent, eagerly submit to bodily mutilation as a rite of purification with the offending articles being given as burnt offerings at the altar of their new temple. The willingness with which the practice is embraced by most of the faithful is one of the true moments of horror in the book; while it would’ve been easy for this to have read as a caricature of cult behavior, the few dissenting voices present make the passage feel all the more real. The question threaded through the novel, both in the present and flashback chapters, remains “Is there really anything at the top of Red Peak? And if there is... is it God, or something more sinister?” It turns out the Family of the Living Spirit are not the first (or last) group to think there’s something to it, and the latter chapters of the book find the survivors seeking answers of their own as the anniversary of the Medford Mystery draws near. (hide spoiler)] I won’t go into the details (as that would spoil the book’s truly worthy ending) but the final scenes for David, Deacon, and Beth are as introspective and deeply personal as any found in the book and are, for each character, wholly satisfying. Suffice it to say, there’s much in the ending that is left open to the reader to interpret, and while that ambiguity may leave some feeling cut loose without answers, it’s also a reminder that the answers to life’s questions typically aren’t handed to you in an envelope with a big gold seal.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘All those years ago, five children survived. Now there were four’ American-Canadian author/journalist/educator Craig DiLouie has published many novels in the genres of thriller, apocalyptic horror and sci-fi fantasy fiction, winning myriad awards and securing a wide audience. One area of focus in which he excels is his uncanny ability to create novels about the causes, impact, and devastation of war and other human foibles. His insight into the impact of cults, though depicted as fiction, is as ‘All those years ago, five children survived. Now there were four’ American-Canadian author/journalist/educator Craig DiLouie has published many novels in the genres of thriller, apocalyptic horror and sci-fi fantasy fiction, winning myriad awards and securing a wide audience. One area of focus in which he excels is his uncanny ability to create novels about the causes, impact, and devastation of war and other human foibles. His insight into the impact of cults, though depicted as fiction, is as fine as any novelist writing today. He lives in Calgary, Canada. The new terrain of THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK is the dark (and currently active!) theme of cults, those sequestered sects that manage to influence and harbor gullible people needing to ‘belong‘ or venerate some ‘ideal.’ Craig uses this ingeniously as a means to reflect on youth’s ‘search for the meaning of life and the yearning for existence beyond death.’ A newspaper clip is included – ‘The Family of the Living Spirit: in 2005, a teenager burst into a sheriff’s station in Medford, California, with a bizarre story. More than 100 members of the group founded by Reverend Jeremiah Peale had committed mass suicide and murder at its commune at nearby Red Peak, preceded by months of ritualized mutilations. The sheriff drove to the site to discover the group had vanished, leaving behind five children in all to be rescued. An extensive search turned up no other survivors or bodies, resulting in the “Medford Mystery” that has endured 15 years. In his distinctive manner of drawing the reader into his novel, Craig opens with a contemporary (adult) funeral for one of the former cult members – Emily – as the narrator David reflects on his childhood drama: ‘‘After years of outrunning the past, David Young now drove straight toward it. His Toyota hummed south along the I-5 as the sun melted into the coastal horizon. The lemon trees flanking the road faded into dusk. Most nights, he enjoyed the solitude of driving. He’d roll down the window and disappear in the sound of his tires lapping the asphalt, soothing as a Tibetan chant. Not this time. California was burning again. The news blamed the wildfire on a lightning strike in the sequoias. Dried out by the changing climate, the forest went up like a match. Outside the car, the air was toxic. A crimson glow silhouetted the Sierra Nevadas like a mirror sunset. Red Peak called to him from all that fire and ash. David turned on the radio to drown out his memories. He’d spent years forgetting. In all that time he hadn’t kept in touch with others. He hadn’t even told his wife about the horrors he’d survived…’ Craig’s plot outline succinctly condenses the scope of the story: ‘David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind. When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.’ Craig DiLouie’s prose is eloquent, deeply compelling, and explores those encumbrances in the path from youth to maturity. It touches many chords of recognition, and that is yet another trait of a brilliant writer. Very highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Minde

    Intense and character-driven, The Children of Red Peak is not a horror story in the classic sense as I expected, it is more of a psychological thriller with horrific events with a bit of paranormal. It explores the meaning, and existence, of God. It’s a slow burn that does finally catch fire. Three survivors of the religious doomsday cult, The Family of Life, meet as adults at the funeral of one of the remaining members after she commits suicide. A fifth survivor has refused to come, leaving the Intense and character-driven, The Children of Red Peak is not a horror story in the classic sense as I expected, it is more of a psychological thriller with horrific events with a bit of paranormal. It explores the meaning, and existence, of God. It’s a slow burn that does finally catch fire. Three survivors of the religious doomsday cult, The Family of Life, meet as adults at the funeral of one of the remaining members after she commits suicide. A fifth survivor has refused to come, leaving the others to face each other, their memories of their life in the Family, and the final days before the mass murder/suicide of the entire cult. The narrative focuses on David, Beth, and Deacon. It recounts their lives together and explores how their personal experiences have shaped them into the adults they are now. It is Angela, David’s older sister, who has remained physically and emotionally distant since their rescue and refused to attend the funeral. Each carries their pain in different ways. David is an exit counselor for victims of cults but has never told his wife his own experience. Beth is a psychiatrist with attachment issues and a vast wine collection. Deacon is a struggling musician covered in tattoos with Latin phrases and still questions his belief in God. We only know that Angela is a police detective. Knowing the Family ended their lives in the desert in the mass murder/suicide, I expected the survivors’ memories to be focused on the last days of torture and religious zealotry. But the Family lived a happy life of simplicity and religious devotion waiting for Jesus to call them home. I expected their leader, Reverend Peale, to be a megalomaniac like Jim Jones or David Koresh of the Branch Davidians, and was surprised to find not only was he charismatic, but he is also kind and truly believed in the Family, and God. So, what happened those final days? Why would a happy community end so horrifically that the five survivors are burdened with anger and self-doubt? And, why were none of the bodies ever found? The narrative takes place in three different time frames-2002, 2015, and 2019-and is told through the voices of the David, Beth and Deacon. There are flashbacks to them as children. It takes a while to build the background and reach the present day, all the while hinting at what happened in the desert. David and Beth, while both devoted to helping those in psychological need are ironically the most dysfunctional of the group. Maybe that is why I liked their characters. I felt I learned too much about Deacon’s musical career. The man is not the songwriter he is made out to be and the scenes with him planning a show, his idea for a concept album, and his club performance were the weakest parts of the book. I wanted to know more about Angela, we see her as a teenager and she shows up at the end as an adult, but I wanted her story too. The Children of Red Peak goes into great depth exploring the phenomenon of fanatic cults versus religious-based groups. The author has done his research and does a great job incorporating it into his story. It’s well written and I recommend it for those who those who like cult novels, psychothrillers, and anything character-driven. Thanks to Netgalley for supplying me with an advanced reader copy. My opinions and review are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I went back and forth on how I felt about this novel. There were moments when I was really loving it and others when I was wholly unimpressed. The book is about the adult survivors of a fanatic religious cult that committed mass suicide many years earlier, while the main characters were still kids. Three of the five survivors are reunited at the funeral of another, who chose to end her own life. They talk about returning to Red Peak for closure. Can they really go back to such cursed grounds and I went back and forth on how I felt about this novel. There were moments when I was really loving it and others when I was wholly unimpressed. The book is about the adult survivors of a fanatic religious cult that committed mass suicide many years earlier, while the main characters were still kids. Three of the five survivors are reunited at the funeral of another, who chose to end her own life. They talk about returning to Red Peak for closure. Can they really go back to such cursed grounds and still be safe? I loved the cult psychology information and was always fully immersed when the characters were talking their way through that. The problem with this, however, was that the author gave me a lot of information about cult dynamics and told me that the survivors were traumatized, but I didn’t feel this was demonstrated well throughout the story. I wanted to see the effects surface within the characters’ actions. I wanted to feel some piece of their brokenness. That just didn’t happen. There were promising moments within the storytelling. Every so often, I really thought it was about to take off in a genuinely chilling direction, only to watch it all deviate. The main issue here was that the book operated on alternate timelines, digging into the past in one chapter and returning to present day in the next, which can be effective, but present day also alternated between the three main characters’ lives. Any intriguing developments that closed a chapter took entirely too long to get back to. Besides ruining momentum, this also led me to often forget certain details that had taken place in each character’s life by the time the story circled back to them. Within the last one hundred pages, there were some grisly and disturbing scenes that seemed to illuminate the horror the story had promised. I was prepared for a big finish, but that fire fizzled out before everything concluded. I found the ending to be the most disappointing aspect of the book. This wasn’t the dark suspense I had been hoping for, but it had its redeeming factors. This was our recent buddy read pick and I know one of my buddies found it to be fascinating and unputdownable. If it appeals to you, give it a chance, as it might work better for you than it did for me!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    3.5 Craig DiLouie is a new to me author. His latest book is The Children of Red Peak. Five children survived a religious group’s last days at the mountain top of Red Peak. Everyone else 'drank the kool aid.' The five are now adults who have not kept in touch over the last fifteen years. When one of the five takes her own life, they finally reconnect. There are unanswered questions, fractured memories and no sense of closure in their lives. Will they climb to the mountain top one last time for ans 3.5 Craig DiLouie is a new to me author. His latest book is The Children of Red Peak. Five children survived a religious group’s last days at the mountain top of Red Peak. Everyone else 'drank the kool aid.' The five are now adults who have not kept in touch over the last fifteen years. When one of the five takes her own life, they finally reconnect. There are unanswered questions, fractured memories and no sense of closure in their lives. Will they climb to the mountain top one last time for answers? Now, I don't read a lot of horror. I'm not one for overt violence and gore. While The Children of Red Peak definitely has horror elements, it's not wholly dependent on shock elements. Instead, much of the book is a look at each of the four and how their younger years were much different from the last months of the group. How did this tragedy shape their lives, their thinking, their mindsets etc. DiLouie does a good job of building his characters. It did seem like musician Deacon got the lion's share of coverage. I admit, his storyline began to lose me. The discussion around his music and the album he wants to make got tiresome for this reader. It was the more reticent David that I was drawn to. I'm always intrigued by the inner workings of an insular group and the faithful that accept such as their own paradise. As well as the acceptance of the doctrines their leader teaches. DiLouie's original group sounds quite happy, but it seems almost inevitable that cracks will begin to show. When does a 'religious group' become a cult? How does someone become so immersed in a belief system that would make no sense to most of us. (Yes, I am a pragmatist.) DiLouie employs a past and present narrative that goes back and forth until the two collide. The horror elements don't really come into play until that final collision. The ending will be interpreted many ways I think, depending on the reader. I thought DiLouie put his own spin on 'cult fiction.'

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