While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death—delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader—she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.
Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend’s life, she’s pulled into a dark, seductive world, where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay’s obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it—both inside the cult and outside of it—is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?
From the author of the acclaimed In My Dreams I Hold a Knife comes a pitch-black thriller about a woman determined to destroy a powerful cult and avenge the deaths of the women taken in by it, no matter the cost.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(1 / 5) DNF (did not finish). I can’t do it. What started as a fascinating potential murder and investigation turned into a manipulative sex story of college girls and rape. It’s too much.
I need to preface the rest of my review with the fact that Winstead did put trigger warnings at the beginning of her book; suicide, rape, physical violence, sexual violence, trauma, self harm, misogyny, gender essentialism, drug use. So props to her for stating these ahead of time. After reading that, I thought I’d be ok because I’m good at skimming paragraphs if I get uncomfortable and I’ve read many books with these triggers. However, this book took it to such an extreme that I could not finish.
It was the manipulation of college-age girls that really got me. The extent of what happened and kept happening just kept getting worse. It wasn’t just a scene or two here and there, it was encompassing the novel. It became more about dominance and causing pain than anything else.
I loved the author’s previous book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. But I’m not sure I’ll be able to read her books again. Knowing she’s capable of writing these stories turns me away from wanting to attempt her books again.
So take it from me, I do not recommend this book. If you would like more details into what parts I read, I am happy to give you enough information to decide if it is a book for you.
General content summary: Keep in mind I read about 50% of the book before I stopped reading;
Author notes for triggers: suicide, rape, physical violence, sexual violence, trauma, self harm, misogyny, gender essentialism, drug use.
From my (partial) read: F words: 12, language, hanging death/possible suicide (2x), alcohol, rape (vague), previous car accident death, buying and selling sex (few details), drugs, self harm, self intimacy (small reference), misogyny, some intimacy (details), manipulation of young people, physical violence.
Thank you to Sourcebooks for the gifted copy!
The book releases August 16, 2022.
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