A teen raised in an isolated religious cult deals with the aftermath of the fire that destroyed her community.
Hill (Darkest Night, 2015, etc.) loosely bases his story on the 1993 standoff between the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas, and federal agents. Seventeen-year-old Moonbeam has been raised from toddlerhood in the Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion, an arid, closed compound outside the fictional town of Layfield, Texas. Essentially orphaned after the early death of her father and the banishment of her mother, she considers the other cult members her family while at the same time beginning to recognize that their lives revolve not around God but around the will of their dictatorial leader, Father John. But that was before FBI agents invaded and an inferno destroyed her world. Now Moonbeam lives locked inside a federal building with 18 other children from the cult, gradually recounting her life to psychiatrist Dr. Hernandez and Agent Carlyle. The complex, brutal story unfolds slowly, in alternating chapters labeled “before” and “after,” as Moonbeam learns to trust both her captors and herself. British author Hill creates a wholly believable world full of complex, interesting characters; he exposes Father John's madness and the mind control of the cult without denigrating either the people who followed him or religion itself. Characters’ races are not identified.
An astonishing saga of suffering and joy, guilt, evil, redemption and truth. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-adult)