See You in September by Charity Norman
When Cassy’s family said goodbye to her at Heathrow airport, they never imagined there was a chance that they might never see her again. It was supposed to be a short holiday in New Zealand with her boyfriend, before returning home to be a bridesmaid for a good friend. But in New Zealand, the double blow of finding out she is pregnant and splitting from her boyfriend leaves Cassy in a vulnerable position, and she is lured to a remote valley called Gethsemane. Slowly, she is drawn into the clutches of a doomsday cult, run by its charismatic leader, Justin, and her family fears they will never see her again. As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group's rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home before Justin's prophesied Last Day comes to pass.
See You In September is a fascinating book, that fictionalises what might happen in these extreme cults – that a culture of sustainable living and family values that seems admirable has a dark side, preying on the vulnerable who become dependant on the community and making it very difficult for them to leave. Justin, their charismatic leader, is an interesting character – and although the book ends in tragedy (the reader knows this from the opening page) – it explores what type of personality might create a community like this. And then there is not just Cassy, but others, who have been lured into the community – many who don’t see the danger until the end. Through the book there is considerable tension wondering if Cassy will go back to England to see her parents, or if she will remain in the cult – and the tension builds as the community prepares for the end of the world. See You In September is a riveting, intelligent novel that is thought-provoking and compelling. This is an excellent story and recommended read.
Allen and Unwin, RRP $32.99