Friday, 17 July 2015

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes: Book Review

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.


How can I sum this book up in a way which it doesn't make it seem any less than amazing? This mystery/thriller novel by Stephanie Oakes swept me away with the way Minnow's painful story was told. This is the first book I've read classified in these particular genres and I was shocked by how swayed I was in my common decision of fantasy being my first pick. Maybe it was just Stephanie's writing that blew me away and following the fact that this is her debut novel, from the first chapter she struck me as someone who would do exceptionally well in her writing career.

Minnow makes me feel like I should be grateful for my life and the fact that I still have my hands to type reviews like this or write my own novels and short stories. I couldn't have ever imagined how disorientating it would be for someone being brought up in an entirely different religion and way of life and then being thrusted into a world where Christianity and Atheism are largely discussed worldwide and the Kevinian cult is eventually found out by Minnow to teach something entirely untrue. The hurt she experienced while reliving her memories from the cult and spending time with her teenage sweetheart, Jude, made me really empathise with her and I felt like I was reliving the emotion-packed moments with her. Minnow is a smart, intuitive and caring individual and the way she instantly befriended Angel in the jail she was put in made me realise how tough Minnow was and the fact that she didn't judge anyone because of their looks, conviction story or rumours about them. She was always aching for more information about anything and everything and I guess moving from a community in the woods to the outside world seems to really have an impact on a seventeen year old girl who was fed lies almost her entire life.

Minnow and Jude's relationship was very symbolic to everyone's first love. I felt like through to the end of the novel as she had matured in a major way, Minnow realised that everything she really felt was typical of someone who had never really been around boys her own age or very many at all apart from full grown men and that love at first sight doesn't always last forever but it will for sure stick with you for the rest of your life as a distant, respected memory. Jude was a strong character and he seemed to empower Minnow with the confidence and courage to stand up to her own people and rebel for the right reasons.

Knowing that Minnow was handless at the beginning of the novel did not prepare me at all for when she retold the story of how she lost them. I actually had to put the book down and breath at some points due to either feeling sick or too vivid of a description. DO NOT GET ME WRONG; I loved that about this book! I love how a book can make you feel so much emotion that it moves you and I think that was the best thing about this book. The losses she experienced throughout the book, not only with her hands but other things, really strengthened Minnow and shaped her perspective on the way she saw things and also what she wanted to believe in. I feel like she still has so much to learn but I am very glad that there will be a sequel to this book called "The Arsonist" as there is still so much I want to know about Minnow and the rest of her story, especially what she decides to do next.

Overall I loved this book and will give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars as the story was amazing but the ending wasn't exactly what I was expecting although I'm hoping I get more out of the story in the sequel! Thanks Stephanie Oakes for making me realise that I absolutely love mystery/thriller novels now! I look forward to reading more of your work!

Thank you HarperCollins New Zealand for the review copy! Go like their Facebook page here:

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