Thomas & Mercer, June 14, 2016.
As this novel begins, a woman named Sara wakes up with no memories and no vision – her only anchor to her former life is her husband Jacob, who tells her they live in a northern Alaskan compound, followers of a religion referred to as The Light. She remembers nothing about her marriage or their beliefs, but she feels safe with Jacob and they quickly reignite their relationship. However, there are some bumps along the way, especially as Sara is forced to fully submit to her husband and the other powerful men who run the community.
In alternating chapters, we also follow a journalist named Stella as she searches for her friend Molly – she disappeared while investigating a disturbing trend of missing women from the streets of Detroit. Stella is warned away from the path of her investigation by her police detective boyfriend, especially as her instincts lead her to a cult called The Light. The shadowy organization is run by the sinister Father Gabriel, and Stella risks her own life in an attempt to expose his connection to the missing women.
Meanwhile, Sara struggles to reconcile her independent personality with an oppressive community that preaches obedience to men, and reinforces it with corporal punishment. The cycle of abuse followed by affection that Jacob offers his wife is difficult to witness, especially in the increasingly tender moments between them. For Sara, her relationship with Jacob is brand new, and in spite of his controlling nature, she begins to fall in love with him. Their romance is very unsettling because it is steeped in abuse yet Jacob somehow becomes a sympathetic character. The author manages to manipulate the reader just as Jacob manipulates Sara.
We know almost from the start that no one can be trusted in The Light. Father Gabriel and the leaders of the community speak of acquiring and indoctrinating their subjects in a very methodical and psychologically scientific way. Since we know the members of The Light are unreliable, it increases our sympathy for Sara. The novel is filled with suspense but it is never overdone – in fact, it is eerily believable. There are no gratuitous twists – the whole story is clearly thought out and cleanly plotted.
Romig manages multiple points of view with ease, showing the full extent of brainwashing and extreme control used by The Light. I won’t say any more about the plot, as its best to jump in knowing very little about it – although it does end in a cliffhanger, with the sequel being published this autumn. Into the Light is so original in plot and character, and I really couldn’t stop reading until I got to the last shocking page. Although I guessed a few of the twists, it doesn’t make it less enjoyable because it is just so well written.
I received this novel from Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.