My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Night Burns Bright by Ross Barkan is a heartbreaking story of power, ego, and masochism. It is a hard look into the abuse of minors for a “better” tomorrow. It is a story that would make your skin crawl even though Ross Barkan offers nothing new in his narration. We have read it all before, the subtle machinations and megalomaniacal obsessions that form a CULT and how every single one of them bites the dust eventually.
The Night Burns Bright opens thru the eyes of the young Lucien, who from the age of six grows up seeing what his mother and his mentor Jack allows him to see. Lucien’s growth in the collective with his friends, in harmony with the nature, his innocence in justifying the punishments being eked out to him, the ingenious and cunning ways the mentor’s approach to the children changes as they grow older, each bit of the life unraveling in the House of Earth is described thru Lucien and it is HARD. Abuse in any form is difficult to read about but when it comes to children, the words sometimes carve a bit of our soul and this is true for The Night Burns Bright.
There is neither any new information nor any twisty surprise that may come to knock your socks off, there’s a particular track that the story progresses to but the ending came at a very sudden pace after almost 90% going at a steady pace. In the blink of an eye, an expected ending had taken place but I was thankful that the author left the story with a hopeful epilogue of an adult Lucien. What the author, however, has captured efficiently is the desperation and frustration inside Lucien in not getting a clear picture of the things that are happening around him. One can feel the questions burning inside Lucien which have no answers and this has been conveyed brilliantly.
3 stars for the honest portrayal of a child’s life in a cult.
Many thanks to Net Galley, publishers, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
In this coming-of-age thriller, a twelve-year-old boy’s spark of courage to question the harmonious wooded commune he calls home may burn down more than just his own illusions.
Lucien has everything he needs: a loving mama, a library full of books, and House of Earth, a private school nestled safely in the woods of upstate New York. It’s where Lucien is taught the importance of living in harmony with nature and building a peaceful and sustainable future. But when his youthful curiosity draws him into town and to Gabrielle, a public-school student living a life wholly different from his own, Lucien’s inquisitiveness about life beyond the commune and questions regarding the events of 9/11 threaten to unbalance everything he thought he knew.
Slowly, things begin to change at House of Earth. The outside world is off limits. Security measures tighten. New rules are put in place, and anyone who violates them is asked to leave and never spoken of again.
As forbidden questions pile up, Lucien’s willingness to obey weakens. Continuing to meet Gabrielle in secret only reinforces his gnawing fear that something about his world is terribly wrong. Unable to remain silent any longer, Lucien will soon discover that looking for answers at House of Earth may be the most dangerous rule he can break.
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