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Kindle CustomerTop Contributor: Star Trek
5.0 out of 5 starsA dip into hell but worth the read.
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2020
Author Craig Stewart brings us the tale of Nina and her fallen ex-soon to be husband Jacob who has gone to live at a cult compound called the Shared Hart. As the story opens we see that Jacob one of the new Dregs of the Shared Hart has his last night with a woman named Susan before he is castrated and she has her reproductive organs removed. Then as the story continues we're introduced to Nina, the woman who Jacob almost married and she has a plan to deprogram him from what he has been told is to be his life up until their harvest. She goes through everything that she can to deprogram him and turn him back into the man that she still loves but I won't give away the ending and it's something that through out the book you can feel it coming but you just don't know how it will. I highly recommend this book and I'm looking forward to reading Craig's other works.
4.0 out of 5 starsA super unique viewpoint into a world of darkness.
Reviewed in the United States on March 28, 2021
I was given a copy of this book so that I could provide an honest and thorough review.
This is an engaging concept! I liked seeing the cult from the lens of someone who at least to a degree likes/appreciates it -- I felt uncomfortable (in a good way) the entire time. The writing style is gorgeous. The descriptions and flow are truly wonderful. As a not-spoilery example I liked lines like: “Jacob’s mother used to make pancakes in the shape of continents, which Jacob would then have to name before sinking them in an ocean of syrup” -- the entire narrative is full of stuff like this. Dialogue is natural too. I like the different ways/voices people talk.
The plot isn’t insanely “fast”, but this definitely suits this story. We need a lot of buildup to the danger, and I personally as a reader like a "slower" plot because it makes me believe in the danger more. I feel like I’m getting a really good idea of what motivates characters like Jacob especially of course, but also Nina, Zelda, the neighbors, etc. I love how this plot makes you question what you think you know about the cult -- whose perspective is 'right', Jacob's or Nina's? Truly dizzying, therefore, engaging. The ending and climax's pacing is also great.
Without spoiling too much, the following things took me out of the experience enough that this is overall a 4 out of 5 for me instead of a full 5 out of 5: I think the middle parts of the book sometimes lose track of the overall tone and flow. I don’t like the “old lady and animal death” stuff. I know this book is supposed to be dark and unnerving (and most of the time it is in a good way), but I came here prepared for human suffering -- animal suffering is different, and it took me out of the experience.
I also don’t deeply love how often sex scenes are framed as a trauma thing -- I think we’re building up to that many of the characters have trauma related to sex, but I also don’t like the overall trope that's present in a lot of literature: “sexual assault is kind of romanticized and is the catalyst for a woman getting involved in a man’s problems.” This isn't exactly how it's done here but I do feel like the way it's done here toes a line. I don't feel like the assault scenes always help push the plot or the overall tone here -- while most of the violent acts definitely fit, assault scenes (even in dreams/etc.) have different implications than other kinds of violence and I don't think it's always handled carefully or are necessary in general.
Overall, though, this book is poetic and unnerving and has a very unique viewpoint. The beginning is fantastic and the ending is fantastic, and even my issues listed above with some stuff in the middle don't overshadow what I took away from this overall. I've never seen anything like this. Definitely recommend for anyone who loves elegant, dark suspense.
Follow Him falls into that category of horror that draws on the paranormal in the form on an ancient evil, a metaphysical entity of enormous potency. The novel opens with Jacob coming out of a strange trance in which he saw for himself what the worshippers of The Shared Heart thought they knew. He could fly, he could soar, and he had come face to face with the beast. The experience was ecstatic, a privilege, only for the chosen few, and all who worshipped coveted the same. Jacob is lost, doomed and it remains for his ex-fiance to save him. When gutsy Nina appears on the scene, breaking into The Sanctuary to steal Jacob away, the story picks up speed in true thriller fashion.
Stewart has penned a novel with a complex undertow very much pointed at the dangers of religious and spiritual cults. I enjoyed the Biblical overtones. It is no accident that Stewart named his protagonist Jacob – Jacob first appears in the Book of Genesis as the son of Isaac and Rebecca, he who wrestled with God and forced God to bless him. Jacob is said to have experienced a vision of a ladder, or staircase, reaching into heaven with angels ascending and descending, known as Jacob’s ladder. Stewart’s Jacob follows ‘The Collector’, the beast’s messenger, and has out of body experiences that change him forever in the most unpleasant of ways.
The complexities of this theme are cleverly buried beneath an action-led, fast-paced plot laced with sensuality. Well-crafted characters, excellent snappy dialogue, and a sharp and witty narrative style make Follow Him great entertainment. Yet this novel remains ultra-disturbing in every respect. Follow Him is Iain Banks’ Whit on steroids. Recommended to horror/dark thriller fans after their next fix.