10 of the best horror novels starring cults

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I don’t remember when I first became interested in cults, but I know it was before I was a teenager. The first thing I remember reading was an article about a girl adjusting to the outside world after leaving a cult – all the details about the cult itself and the girl in particular escaped me, except that her Favorite book was Flowers in the Attic (which I immediately picked up from the school library). Despite this long-standing interest, I’m not sure I can easily define a cult, although I know it’s not always obvious, it’s not always people dressed distinctly behind high walls. Is this cool-looking startup that calls its HR department “People and Culture” a bit of a cult? Could something like CrossFit be cult?

According to Cults in America, a book that I have in my library like any ordinary person, cults tend to share the following attributes: only are endowed with the truth. This year’s Cultish by Amanda Montell, a book that explains how cults use language, theorizes that our interest in cults is in part a fear reaction. We read about cults because we wonder if it could happen to us. Cults in horror novels go even further by putting you in the shoes of someone to whom they are To arrived or someone investigating What arrived.

While many well-known sects exist in the realm of fundamentalist Christianity, sects have, of course, existed in all societies. This is not necessarily reflected in cult fiction, so some of the novels in the list below are not traditional “horror” novels, but they are novels that elicit a similar emotional response from him. reader.

Children of Paradise by Fred D’Aguiar

Joyce and her daughter, Trina, live in a community in Guyana that looks a lot like Jonestown. When Trina plays too close to the cage containing the township gorilla, Adam, she is attacked and killed – but is later revived by the township preacher. Trina becomes a symbol of the leader’s divine power. As things start to fall apart and rumors of a Congressional delegation coming to investigate the settlement spread, Joyce knows she must escape to save her daughter. She finds an unlikely ally in Adam, the remarkable gorilla.

Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn

A slow-moving crime writer is invited to interview a notorious death row inmate. Jeffrey Halcomb, former cult leader, is ready to break his silence in the face of writer Lucas Graham alone. Graham plans to work from the crime scene, a farm on a beach in Washington state where many Halcomb supporters perished. He quickly discovers that he is not alone there and that the people who have been promised eternal life are, indeed, not quite dead.

Adam Nevill’s Last Days

Kyle Freeman is a documentary filmmaker who has been asked to make a film about a cult known as the Temple of the Last Days. The cult is known for a massacre which included the death of its leader, Sister Katherine. The shootings will take him to the first temple of worship in London, an abandoned farm in France and the copper mine in Arizona where the worship ended. He begins to experience strange events surrounding his talks with the people involved in the affair. Visits and sudden deaths make him wonder what the cult has awakened – and why he’s interested in it.

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Three mercenaries have been hired for what seems like a straightforward mission: to watch over the nephew of the woman who hired them. She believes he may have been taken against his will to a remote place in the woods of New Mexico called Little Heaven, which is under the control of a secret religious cult. Mercenaries quickly realize that they are overwhelmed. Something is seriously wrong here. There is a monolith called Black Rock that rises above the settlement and slowly their escape routes are cut off. They will have to fight for their freedom against any power coming to the colony.

Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek

In Stauford, Kentucky, a local legend has it that there was once a church in Devil’s Creek. A leader named Jacob Masters preached the gospel of an unnamed god. The church burned to the ground but a few survivors remained, including Jacob’s six children and their grandparents. The children have grown up and the city has evolved. Jack Tremly was one of those children, and when he returns to Kentucky to settle his grandmother’s estate, he will uncover secrets about his father and the church. Who was his father’s anonymous god, and what is starting to stir again?

Maison Catherine by Elisabeth Thomas

Maison Catherine by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House is a school known for producing the best and the brightest – as long as they give the school three years of their life in which they are completely cut off from their families, most of their possessions and the world. outside. The school’s most dedicated students study a mysterious compound known as plasma. Ines Murillo, an incoming first year at Catherine House, quickly falls in love with the closest thing to a home she’s ever found, but there’s something really wrong with Catherine House. When tragedy strikes a classmate, Ines begins to suspect that there is more to the prestigious school than gilded furniture and bizarre group meditation exercises.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek love was released in 1989 and is one of the oldest titles on this list. It is the story of children created by their parents, thanks to a combination of drugs, to be the star of the family’s traveling circus. Although it is not strictly cult life since it concerns all siblings, a brother develops a cult based on amputation. As siblings and parents travel across the country, inter-family warfare grows and lasts for over a generation.

Universal harvester by John Darnielle

In the 1990s, Jeremy had a “pretty good” job in a video store and tried not to think of his late mother. Customers start flipping videos because they have mysterious images intertwined with the film. The scenes are weird, sometimes violent, and without narration or explanation – and they were shot just outside of town. It’s an atmospheric story of what can be found just outside of everyday life.

Gather the Girls of Jennie Melamed

Gather the Girls of Jenny Melamed

Raise a warning for a belief system heavily based on incest. Off the coast of a cremated country, a colony was born. Ten men and their families built a society based on ancestor worship, controlled breeding, euthanasia and total control over knowledge and history. Their daughters are wives in training, released only in the summer, when all the girls on the island are allowed to go wild, only returning home at the end of the season. At the end of such a summer, a girl witnesses something that will change everything. It is a very disturbing story that is beautifully told.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

A pregnant woman escapes from a religious enclosure and takes refuge in the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and that’s where she plans to stay. However, she is still chased away by the people she tried to escape and she finds out that her body is inexplicably changing. To keep her family safe, she must leave the woods to face her past, her future, and the violent America that created the complex she grew up in.


If you’re looking for more cult-themed reads, you’ll want to delve into these 100 must-have cult books, as well as these YA cult books.

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