Sunday, January 12, 2014

'The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman' by Carole Brown

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman
Caralynne Hayman is angry and bitter over the abuse and death of her eleven-year-old daughter at the hands of a radical religious cult—The Children of Righteous Cain. So when her husband, a founding member of the cult, suffers a massive heart attack, Caralynne allows her husband to die.

Caralynne’s secret seems safe until Dayne MacFarland returns, determined to learn the truth about the cult. His investigation and his rekindled love for Caralynne lead the pair toward a confrontation with the group’s elders.

Can Dayne’s love for Caralynne bridge the gulf of anger and bitterness that divides the community? Or will Caralynne’s deadly secrets prove too high a price for her redemption?

To the outside world, they look like an innocent group minding their own business, but the Righteous Children of Cain is a religious cult with some terrible practices. Its leader, the corrupt and controlling Elder Simmons, is not used to resistance from anyone, especially when it comes to making all the marriage decisions of the community, and organising horrific 'breaking in' rituals for preteen girls.

Recently widowed Caralynne Hayman is a loving and incensed mother whose eldest daughter was accidentally killed during one such ritual. She will guard the younger two girls with her life. The elders are going to foist a new husband on her, her cruel and cunning brother-in-law, one of the only men they believe may successfully break her spirit.

Meanwhile, her childhood friend, Dayne McFarland, has returned as the new town preacher. Simmons expects him to be malleable, but Dayne has done plenty of thinking for himself, questioning the way he was brought up. And he doesn't like what he sees.

Caralynne's young daughters, Leila and Lacy, made the story very meaningful for me. They are innocent and beautiful, taking their neighbours' lifestyles at face value, little knowing what lies in store for them unless something radical is done. Nobody is as vulnerable as those who don't realise they even need saving.

I might have appreciated a bit more about the brainwashing methods used on young boys, to cause so many of them to grow into the unsavoury specimens we see within the pages of this book. There is plenty of female perspective, when the experiences of Cara's friends are added to hers, but not as much of the male perspective, unless you count Dayne's flashbacks to his past, and he's hardly a typical example.

We see sweet young toddler boys, belonging to some of Cara's friends, and then we see the rough Martin brothers, who seem to be in their late teens or early twenties and are already dangerous. How are the boys aged from 5 to 15 treated, to make them such blind followers of Simmons and his elders?

It's a page turning story all the way through, and also a wake-up call that such bizarre groups do exist, living close to the rest of civilisation, but many aren't aware of how desperately the victims need help. It's also a great testimony of what may happen when strong characters like Cara and Dayne are prepared to question the status quo and take action, as hopeless as it may seem.

Thanks to the author, for giving me a copy in return for an honest review

4 stars

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman available from Amazon

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