Blue grew up in the Black House.
In remotest Wales, Joseph Carillo recruited young, lonely women to join his community and adopt his erratic views. Blue’s mother was one of them. But when the Black House goes up in flames, Blue escapes to freedom and never stops running.
Twenty years later, when Blue’s old dormmate commits suicide, Blue receives a strange call. She has been awarded sole custody of Natasha’s daughter. But things don’t add up. The girls haven’t spoken since the night of the fire.
As Blue begins to dig into Natasha’s life, her suspicions take her all the way back to that fateful night…but will the truth help Blue to face her past, or will it put everyone she holds close in danger?
I have always been fascinated by religious cults and what makes people join them. How you can have such power over someone that you can make them bend to your will (think Charles Manson and the killing of Sharon Tate and her friends). Then there was Jonestown and WACO amongst others, including The Moonies (or Unification Church) – though no killing or mass suicides. I won’t go into too much detail as I have already written about it in another review but suffice to say that Children of God – which became Family International in 2004 – not only permitted sex with children but actually encouraged it, believing it was ‘a divine right’. It still exists today but without the underage sex. Potential members of cults are often vulnerable, unattached and in their late teens/early twenties, making it ‘easier’ for them to be brainwashed.
The Black House is the extreme. Natasha’s mother Sienna was the first to be recruited by spiritual leader Joseph Carillo, whose teachings were based around the evil of the outside world and the suspicion that surrounded figures of authority like the police and teachers. But the evil inside The Black House made the outside world look like Noddyland. Mothers became the ‘Aunts’ who no longer tied themselves to their own children, who were punished for calling them ‘mummy’. Young children were starved and often beaten. The girls would ‘mature’ into sex partners for Carillo and the older boys and eventually married off while in their teens. What they all endured was horrendous, but the loss of their own mother was one of the hardest.
Following a fire at The Black House in which many of the adults died, Blue, Lisa, Natasha, her brother Brodie and Sienna escaped. Once outside the three girls were separated, supposedly for their own good. Blue meets ageing rock star Isaac, who takes her under his wing. She works for him in his record shop Pop Planet. She is recovering as well as can be expected until she receives an unexpected call. Something has happened to Natasha and Blue has been given custody of her 10-year-old daughter Pen, who she has never met or even knew existed. But something doesn’t add up and soon DI Annie Grafton is on the case.
This was a brilliant read and I loved every minute, though some of the abuse was pretty hard to take.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.
About the Author
NJ Mackay is a writer and a bookworm. She studied Performing Arts at the BRIT School. “It turned out I wasn’t very good at acting”, she says, “but quite liked writing scripts”. She went on to take a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Drama and later won a full scholarship for an MA in Journalism.