Five children survived a religious group’s last days at the mountain top of Red Peak. Everyone else 'drank the kool aid.' The five are now adults who have not kept in touch over the last fifteen years. When one of the five takes her own life, they finally reconnect. There are unanswered questions, fractured memories and no sense of closure in their lives. Will they climb to the mountain top one last time for answers?
Now, I don't read a lot of horror. I'm not one for overt violence and gore. While The Children of Red Peak definitely has horror elements, it's not wholly dependent on shock elements. Instead, much of the book is a look at each of the four and how their younger years were much different from the last months of the group. How did this tragedy shape their lives, their thinking, their mindsets etc. DiLouie does a good job of building his characters. It did seem like musician Deacon got the lion's share of coverage. I admit, his storyline began to lose me. The discussion around his music and the album he wants to make got tiresome for this reader. It was the more reticent David that I was drawn to.
I'm always intrigued by the inner workings of an insular group and the faithful that accept such as
their own paradise. As well as the acceptance of the doctrines their leader teaches. DiLouie's original group sounds quite happy, but it seems almost inevitable that cracks will begin to show. When does a 'religious group' become a cult? How does someone become so immersed in a belief system that would make no sense to most of us. (Yes, I am a pragmatist.) DiLouie employs a past and present narrative that goes back and forth until the two collide. The horror elements don't really come into play until that final collision.
The ending will be interpreted many ways I think, depending on the reader. I thought DiLouie put his own spin on 'cult fiction.' See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Children of Red Peak.