Church by Renee Miller is a short, sharp often shocking cult horror tale. Oddly enough, I began reading this at the same time Charles Manson was said to be knocking on death’s door (and good riddance now that he has gone). The timing of this was purely coincidental but it did put me in the mood to read some cult-inspired horror.
Unnerving Magazine has released some great titles in the past twelve months or so and Church is a lot of fun (if your idea of fun is people being brainwashed and tortured). Miller isn’t afraid to take her horror into extreme territory and there are a couple of scenes during Church that will certainly test the gag reflex. On the plus side, this novella is fast and furious with Miller wasting no time in plunging the reader head first into the twisted world of Darius (the Prophet) and the followers of the Zabian way. The fact that money and power lie at the heart of this particular story rings sadly true with many churches and religious organisations that exist throughout America and the world today.
At the heart of the tale is Ray. Ray is trying to sway his love, Carol, away from the trappings of the Zabian church and its bonkers followers. Of course, things don’t go too well for Ray despite his best intentions and he certainly has his faith put to the test during this brief tale. The psychological and physical torment is plentiful. Ray’s suffering at the hands of the church is brutally described by Miller, though she doesn’t simply flick from one gruesome scene to the next, we do get some insight into the cult and its followers. However, Church felt like a much bigger story trapped within the confines of the novella form. This hampered the ending a little for me which after a cool build-up felt a little rushed leaving me feeling content but not blown away.
Church is a great escape, a quick read that fans of cult horror stories will find enjoyable. With American Horror Story: Cult currently running on our screens, now is the perfect time to be reading this. KNEEL BEFORE ZABIR!!
3.5/5 alters from the Grim Reader.
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