Books Like The Girls
History is filled with stories of destructive or doomsday cults formed around charismatic leaders with sinister intentions. The secretive worlds of many of these cults have made them a source of fascination amongst both writers and readers. The horror genre, in particular, has plenty of chilling novels dedicated to what happens if people become caught up in a cult or become the target of one. For example, The Girls by Emma Cline is loosely inspired by the Manson Family cult and how a young girl got caught up in it after being drawn in by some other girls. For more stories about cults, check out these other books like The Girls.
In The Clearing
by JP Pomare
In The Clearing by J.P. Pomare is the story of a cult called "The Clearing" run by the elders who use methods like deprivation, punishment, and fear to keep members in line. One of the cult members is Amy, a 15-year-old who has been brainwashed by the cult and assists them in kidnapping a 7-year-old girl named Asha. The cult wants 12 blond, blue-eyed children, and Asha ends up being one of them. In The Clearing, Amy takes Asha under her wing but is confused by what Asha tells her of the outside world as it conflicts with what the cult has been telling her. However, tying in with the story is also Freya, a mother in her late twenties living an isolated lifestyle with her young son and dog. The fact that In The Clearing was inspired by a real-life cult called The Family makes it even more chilling.
Children of Paradise
by Fred D'Aguiar
Children of Paradise is a novel by the acclaimed novelist, playwright, and poet Fred D'Aguiar. Children of Paradise is based on the cult known as The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project or "Jonestown," which was located in Guyana and run by Jim Jones. Joyce and Trina are a mother and daughter who followed Jones from California to Guyana to be a part of his "utopian" society. However, Joyce becomes a symbol of the cult leader's charismatic God-like powers when he dramatically "revives" her after she is attacked and killed by a gorilla. Joyce becomes desperate to save her daughter from the control of the preacher and, with Adam, the gorilla who is also a prisoner of the cult tries to make a daring escape.
The Ash Family
by Molly Dektar
The Ash Family by Molly Dektar is the story of Berie, a nineteen-year-old who encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. After he promises her a new life, she is whisked away to the Ash Family farm. Here she renounces her old life and name to settle into a new one under the moniker of Harmony. At first glance, everything is idyllic as the community lives off the fertile land of the mountains and is bound together by high ideals. However, just as Harmony begins making new friends, they start to disappear, and she realizes that living in the cult is not what she expected.
by Diana Clarke
Thin Girls by Diana Clarke shows that cults are not always based on religious principles. The story follows twins Rose and Lily Winters, who have a bond so close that they can feel each other's emotions. However, like other young women, they experience struggles with their bodies and food in high school. This sees Rose becoming anorexic while Lily does the complete opposite and eats everything her sister won't. A few years later, Rose is about to mark her one-year anniversary in a rehabilitation facility for anorexics, where Lily is her sole visitor. However, when Lily joins a cult diet group with an eating plan consisting of questionable non-calorie foods, Rose senses that her sister needs her help and sets out to rescue her.
Those Who Prey
by Jennifer Moffett
Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett is a story about how easy it is for the vulnerable to become caught up in a cult. It is a psychological thriller about Emily, who finds that her freshman year at college is much more lonely than she expected. Instead of making new friends and finally feeling like she belonged, Emily walks the campus alone while still searching for her place or people so far from home. Everything changes when an exclusive on-campus group called The Kingdom finds her. The Kingdom offers everything Emily ever wanted, from acceptance to friends and even a potential boyfriend. Emily jumps at the opportunity when they also provide a chance to spend the summer on a mission trip to Italy. Unfortunately, in the process, she and the others are stripped of their passports and money while The Kingdom's practices become more manipulative and dangerous.
by Adam Nevill
Last Days by Adam Nevill sees a guerilla documentary maker named Kyle Freeman offered the opportunity to shoot a film on a notorious known as the Temple of the Last Days. Kyle is tasked with exploring the paranormal myths surrounding the cult, which was a worldwide phenomenon in 1975 after a massacre that included its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. For Kyle, it's a dream come true as he travels across the world while interviewing those involved in the case, including some who haven't broken silence in decades. However, when uncanny events begin to plague the shoots, Kyle begins to question what the cult managed to awaken and what its interest is in him.