The Children of Red Peak

The Children of Red Peak is an unsettling, frighteningly ambiguous horror novel about a deadly cult and its traumatized survivors. As children, David Young, Deacon Price and Beth Harris were members of a religious group called the Family of the Living Spirit. In an event reminiscent of the mass suicide at Jonestown, the group self-destructed in extraordinarily bloody fashion near a mountain called Red Peak. Craig DiLouie, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of One of Us, takes cues from Stephen King's It in his book's structure: DiLouie alternates between the past and the present, relating the events leading up to the cult's implosion from the perspective of his characters as children and jumping forward to their lives as traumatized adults.

The survivors are brought together by the sudden death of one of their number, eventually setting in motion a plan to return to Red Peak. Their trauma is compounded by lingering mysteries that they hope to settle: How did the cult members' bodies disappear? Was the pillar of fire that they saw a mass hallucination? DiLouie uses these mysteries to dwell on the cult's ambiguities: some of the survivors don't even agree that the Family of the Living Spirit was a cult.

The Children of Red Peak takes the desire to find meaning and the yearning for something beyond ourselves very seriously. The central question of the book is how to reconcile that yearning with its sometimes destructive results. The characters return to Red Peak hoping to make sense of these contradictions. The answers they find might be even more frightening than the questions. --Hank Stephenson, the Sun magazine, manuscript reader

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