Saturday, January 21, 2012
Brides of Eden by Linda Crew
Rural Oregon in 1903 does not seem the place where something as strange as a doomsday cult would happen, but that's before charismatic preacher Franz Edmund Creffield changes his name to Joshua and claims he is the second coming of Christ. His outrageous claims are bought into by many of the women in Corville and his strange message soon has his followers looked on with fear and anger in the town. As Joshua makes more demands of his followers, teenager Eva Mae finds herself torn between wanting to please Joshua and her overly pious sister and staying with her kind father. She's soon confused and swept up in events that spiral out of control and unsettle an entire community.
A YA novel based entirely on a turn of the century doomsday cult seems like an odd thing to find, but this book ended up being extremely fascinating. Eva Mae's confusion over her family and her own actions is entirely believable and she becomes very sympathetic, even if to the outside observer her actions are extremely frustrating as she keeps being seduced back into the cult. What is most interesting about this book is how modern cult leaders haven't changed from Joshua and his methods. He slowly separates the women from their families, doesn't allow them to interpret Scriptures for themselves, takes advantage of them sexually which in Eva Mae's case causes her to become even more confused and afraid to tell anyone. The book also has the benefit of having actual pictures from the town and primary sources sprinkled through it, as this was an actual event that the author researched. Overall a startlingly good book about a rather obscure topic.