About the Book:
From the USA Today best-selling and Edgar-nominated author of Darling Rose Gold comes a dark, thrilling novel about two sisters – one trapped in the clutches of a cult, the other in a web of her own lies.
Welcome to Wisewood. We’ll keep your secrets if you keep ours.
Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.
The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.
And then she found Wisewood.
On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world – no internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.
Six months later, Natalie receives a menacing email from a Wisewood account threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.
I loved the author’s first book ‘Darling Rose Gold’ (a must-read!), so I was very excited for her second book. The premise sounded so intriguing! There are definitely elements of both the real-life
NXIVM Cult and the fictional series ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’.
Natalie Collins is a high-achiever and at the top of her profession. Her personal life does not run as smoothly. She has not been able to reach her sister Kit for months. The book is told from the points of view of Natalie, Kit and a third person who suffered a traumatic and abusive childhood. I was confused about who this person was and assumed it was Natalie but I was so wrong!
Kit has found structure and purpose at Wisewood, located on a remote island in Maine, which requires that its “guests” sign nondisclosure agreements. Guests are also not allowed contact with family members. When Natalie receives an ominous email from someone at Wisewood threatening to reveal a family secret, she is determined to find her sister.
Wisewood is run by “Teacher”, who demands loyalty from those at Wisewood. Natalie is alarmed by all of this but Kit seems to have accepted all of the demands and rigors of the program. To the reader, it might seem obvious that Wisewood was a cult, but Kit seems to be thriving. Although she is not the old, friendly Kit that Natalie expected, she seems to be stronger.
It was a little confusing keeping track of the points of view but the story moved very quickly. I found the flashbacks to one of the character’s abusive childhood to be very disturbing, although those events were central to how this person turned out to be as an adult. This book examines the reasons why people are drawn to join a cult, and sadly, how an abused child can turn into an abusive adult.
“What’s the only way you’re going to succeed? … Through my willingness to endure.”
Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the author’s first book, it is an interesting psychological thriller with lots of surprises thrown in.
(Thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced reading copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)