Published 5th March 2015 by Hot Key Books.
Goodreads Synopsis: Escape from a bullying mother takes one young woman to an even more dangerous place.
Alice Angel has known only a life of rules, restriction and punishments as she strays from the rigid path of Victorian proprietary that her mother has set out for her. A constant disappointment to all but her doting father, she longs for the day that she might break free from the stifling atmosphere of her mother’s rule.
After a chance encounter with a charming stranger, and a final incident with her family that sees her condemned to the madhouse, Alice sees her opportunity to run and grasps it with both hands. She escapes to join the Agapemonites in their Abode of Love, where ex-Reverend Henry Prince rules his isolated colony of women as their Beloved. Prince ignites a passion in Alice that she never knew existed, and she dares to think she might be free at last.
But as Alice becomes more deeply drawn into the life of Prince’s strange religious sect, secrets are revealed that seem to hint at a darker nature lurking behind the man’s charm. Instead of freedom, is Alice in fact more trapped, alone and in danger than ever before?
My Review: I loved Alison Rattle’s previous YA novels –The Quietness and The Madness – so when I heard of her latest title coming out, I was ecstatic! From the synopsis, The Beloved looked like it was going to be just as haunting.
I knew from the opening pages that I was going to like Alice, the protagonist: In the first chapters she’s described as mad and insane and hysterical by her mother – but when reading from Alice’s perspective, you get to understand her and realise she’s not what everyone thinks she is.
I loved the first person narrative to the story as Alice’s outlook on the world was really interesting. What I found strange at first, though, was that every few chapters, there’s a third person chapter. It took me a while to get used to that but it was pretty effective, actually, as after being sucked into Alice’s story, you get to see the impact of her escaping on her family.
I actually thought this was going to be some kind of dark, runaway romance book – because when Alice first sees Henry Prince, preaching on a street, she is captivated; and soon after she escapes to find him, in hopes of finding a new way of life. From the moment Alice steps through the gate to his ‘Abode of Love,’ there’s suddenly a strange, sinister undercurrent running through the book.
The plot spirals quickly into really creepy territory. It was much more haunting than the first half of the story: And that was chilling! The final pivotal event in the book was completely terrifying, but I didn’t want to stop reading. The last chapter was very unexpected, but I found myself liking that outcome of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Beloved. It was yet another brilliantly chilling tale from Alison Rattle and I can’t wait to read even more from her in the future. Alice was a realistic and vulnerable main character, and I really felt for her. The plot is pretty alarming at points but it’s a riveting story. I was in disbelief when I read that it was based on a true story (Details in the author’s note at the end!). Highly recommended!
I received a copy of The Beloved from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.