Amanda Sinclair has to fight harder than most for everything she has after fleeing a cult that left her brother dead at her mother’s hands. Amanda works a quiet job in quality control for a small cosmetics company, trying to leave her past behind until she learns that her mother has committed suicide in the mental ward where she’s been locked away for the past ten years.
At first, Amanda believes that her mother killed herself, but when she looks through the personal belongings left behind, it seems her death may be related to the upcoming parole hearing for cult leader Patrick Collier. Teaming up with her mother’s psychologist, Amanda starts to peel away the layer of secrets that she’s built between herself and her own past, and what she finds is a truth that’s almost too big to believe.
I’m quite interested in cults and the psychological techniques they use to draw people in and manipulate them so Cover Me In Darkness really appealed to me.
The story centres around Amanda who, in the past was part of a religious organisation called the Children Of The Greater God with her mother. Following the suicide of her mother, Amanda suspects that all is not as it seems and fowl play may have been involved. What follows is a thriller in which Amanda seeks to uncover the truth putting her own life in jeopardy.
Cover Me In Darkness is a dark tale in which mental illness, religious fanaticism and mistrust all play a part. Amanda’s mother is in a secure psychiatric hospital following an horrific crime and Amanda is trying to move on with her life and keep her past hidden from her colleagues. I found Amanda to be quite a cold character and I understand that Rendahl has deliberately written her this way as the character is trying to conceal her past but I found her difficult to gel with. However, Rendahl effectively makes you question Amanda and her reliability which adds an interesting edge to the story.
Rendahl does a great job of getting across how Amanda’s mother felt in the years following her killing her own child, a tragic event spurred on by her mental health difficulties and her belief that she was protecting the children from becoming ‘bad’. For me, however, it didn’t strongly come across what impact the cult had had on her mental health and the subsequent tragedy. Would she have gone on to commit a similar act if she hadn’t become involved with the Children Of The Greater God? I would have liked more exploration of the psychological impact the cult had on Amanda and her mother.
I found the book a little slow at times. Quite a lot of it focuses on Amanda’s job in a laboratory and while unusual occurrences are taking place within the lab, it just did not grab me or hold my interest. There are some creepy moments, but for some reason it just didn‘t quite hit the mark for me.
I really liked the premise of the book but felt a bit disappointed in the ending despite the fact it was not what I was expecting. I guess I wanted more emphasis on the cult aspect and wanted to get deep within it and it’s wider impact but I didn’t feel I got this. I also found it difficult to ’get on’ with the main character resulting in me not really empathising with her, despite all she had been through. Great idea and I can’t fault the writing, but sadly it lacked something for me.
Thanks to Eileen Rendahl, Midnight Ink and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.
Published on Ebook 8 December 2016 and paperback 1 January 2017 by Midnight Ink.