I have been lucky enough to be part of the book tour for this great read by Helga Zeiner, don’t forget to stick with for the giveaway ;)
Helga Zeiner is a Canadian and German citizen, at the age of 18 she completed her arts degree at the Art School of Bavaria and left Germany. Since then she has lived and worked in Australia for two years and Hong Kong for twelve, but since 2004 has lived with her husband in the wilderness of British Columbia where they own over 500 acres and developed into a gated cabin community – The Rainbow County Estate
. For as long as Helga can remember she has been writing novels, usually in her spare time, and though most of her time today is devoted to writing she also manages the land development company, is politically acitve, enjoys outdoor spots and loves smoking cigars.
Published: 1st July 2011
Publisher: POW WOW Books
Page Count: 458
Synopsis: Lillian is only 13 when her parents marry her to a middle-aged Bishop of a fundamentalist sect who practices polygamy. She is forced to live with her new husband’s many wives and children on his compound tucked away in the Canadian wilderness. The hardships of poverty and isolation have crushed the will of just about everybody in his flock. They suffer in silent submissiveness, trying to please their despotic leader. He justifies the humiliating treatment of his dependents by citing ‘Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants’ of his fundamentalist religion. Until, one day, Lillian had enough. But it is dangerous to try and escape the Bishop’s iron rule. He practices blood-atonement, which is quietly sanctioned by the ‘Gatekeepers’, an American secret society within the Fundamentalist Mormon Church. Lillian must find out-side help if she ever wants to leave the Bishop’s compound – but how can she do this if she is locked up without any means of communication? Lillian doesn’t know how life outside a compound functions. She only knows that she can not live like this much longer. Many questions plaque her troubled mind. Why do her sister-wives put up with this hardship, knowing only a bleak future lies ahead of them? Where do the child-brides come from, the Bishop keeps adding to his family? Where do some of his daughters disappear to, once they come of age? Lillian’s defiance grows with every injustice she witnesses – until she can’t hide her rebellion any longer.Her desperate struggle to escape draws the reader into a very dark, very dangerous place. But not all is hopeless. When land developer Richard Bergman buys the neighboring property, Lillian’s luck seems to be changing…
Review: Wow, this book is definitely very different to my usual reads so different that I’m going to have to discuss a few subjects that you may find sensitive. I decided to give myself a week to read this book thinking I could do that easily, but boy was I wrong, in fact I think this book needs to come with a warning cause it really effected me and was super heavy to read. For most books about religion I tend to steer clear because I don’t find it that interesting nor do I follow any religion, but I decided to give this book a chance because I wanted to know what the mystery was that surrounded Lillian. The book for the most part is from two characters points of view Lillian the thirteen year old child bride to the “Bishop” and Richard who is in short a big time redeveloper, the main trouble I had with his chapters were that he’d go into so much into the business side of things that it went over my head and I had no idea what was going on but I soon learned to skim parts of what he was saying so that I wouldn’t be so confused which helped moved the story on a lot quicker but I appreciated them all the same because I realised the author was using her own knowledge within his chapters, as for Lillian’s chapters I initially struggled with them for a completely different reason, they were interesting but I had such a hard time coping with the idea of a thirteen year old being sold into a marriage to a 40 year old man who already had over 10 wives, not to mention the chapters where he forced himself on her to the point she threw up in his face, *shudder*. So you’re probably sat here thinking wow she didn’t think much of this book but quiet the opposite, whilst what happened in the book tormented me I enjoyed how powerful the writing was to make me feel such a way and also want to throw up, but I couldn’t put it down because I had to know what happened not just with her but with the other wives and children and whether the Gatekeepers could actually be of any help, it was all very tense.
Recommend? Yes if you can handle it.
But you wanted to know more, right?
Martha knew the Bishop was coming for her. His boots stomped toward the office, and when he unlocked the door, she moved back to the opposite wall, trying to melt into it. The room was only about ten feet deep, and he was threateningly close as soon as he had entered. She saw the gun strap slung over his shoulder. Marion was beside him, her face still wet from crying, but already setting into a mask of acceptance and denial. Empty eyes buried in a stone hard expression. With only minimal movement of her body, she looked like a motionless statue, placed there only as an accessory to her husband, an extension of his wrath, coming alive only to cater to his demands. For the moment, he needed nothing of her except to observe him in all his glory as the executor of the faith. Martha was not scared of him, but she was terrified of the unknown. What cruelty had he planned for her? Would she have to suffer long? It would be easier to bear if she knew what to expect. She didn’t have to wait long. “Get out of here, you worthless piece of shit!” he snapped at her. He slipped the gun strap off his shoulder and casually swung the hunting rifle in front of his massive torso like a trophy. “Here, see this! Fear this! It is the Lord’s instrument of vengeance. He has appointed me to be his executioner. Commanded me to exterminate filthy vermin like you. Get out, you slut, so I can punish you for your sins!” He came closer, lowered the weapon and prodded her thigh with the tip of the rifle. Martha jumped sideways and was forced to move forward and slide past him to the door. He directed her with his weapon. “Bitch! Out with you! Outside! We don’t want a mess in here. Out you go, you miserable creature! I’ll show you who your master is. Move it, bitch, don’t drag your feet.” Martha moved a little faster. She was numb, didn’t even feel herself walking past Marion who remained grotesquely frozen in her stance. The Bishop kept pushing her forward, down the hallway, to the back entrance of the house. “Go, go, go. Let’s have a little target practise. You’d better move a bit faster, or it won’t be fun at all. Outside you go.” He pushed her through the back door and out into the yard. “When I count to three, you run. If you make it over there, I’ll let you live. The Lord will decide.” The distance from the house to the trees was much larger than she remembered. But it didn’t matter; he would get her anyway. Best to go slow, otherwise he might miss and only injure her. “One!” Martha took a deep breath. He slammed his rifle painfully into her back. She nearly lost her balance. “Two!” She forgot her resolution to be an easy target and instinctively started to run. “Threeeee….” She ran as fast as she could, trying to get away from his horrible ‘eeeee’. She practically flew over the ground, driven by her survival instinct, until she stumbled, lost her balance and fell face down on the ground. A sharp slash whipped viciously through her whole body, ripping her insides apart. She was surprised to hear herself groaning, although the excruciating pain of a moment ago subsided into shocked numbness. He had not finished her! Mixed into her total confusion of being shot at, lying on the ground and not feeling any pain, was the realization that something did not fit into the whole scenario. Something did not make sense. She had heard him counting and his final endless, blood curling “eeeeeeeee” still rang in her ears. She was on her knees now, slumped forward to steady herself with her hands, and turning sideways to look behind her. He was also on the ground, holding his side with one hand, the rifle lying next to him. His “eeeeee” had evaporated into a whimper. At the same instant Martha saw the shape of a woman running away from him. Nothing but billowing skirts in a hasty retreat, impetuously heading for the protection of the trees. Anna! Already she had reached the trees. A safe haven for the fleeing Anna; as it would be for her, if she could reach it before he recovered from the injury Anna had inflicted on him. He was already shaking his head like a wounded bear, groaning in an effort to get the nasty foreign object that incapacitated him out of his flank. Martha did not see what had injured him so badly that the air had been knocked out of his lungs, but it must have weakened him considerably. He was wheezing, coughing and gurgling in his angry attempts to regain his stability and was slowly steadying himself. If only she had not been hurt – if only she could reach the cover of the forest before he recovered from the surprise attack. She forced herself to try and scramble to her feet, surprised that she was still in one piece and not cut into two like she had thought. Where did it hurt? Even more surprised, she realized that she was not hurting at all. Her brain finally solved the mystery that had puzzled her before. No shot had been fired! On his last count she had only heard his scream but no shot – no bullet had been flying in her direction. She had stumbled and fallen, that was all. The pain had been imaginary. By now her legs were firmly on the ground, holding her weight, and she started to run. She looked back once and increased her efforts to reach the tree line when she saw that he was already on his knees, groping blindly for his weapon. She literally flew across the yard, her skirt bunched up high, with her feet barely touching the ground. The forest. The trees. There they were. She ran past the first few trees, getting deeper into the woods before she pressed herself behind one wide trunk, panting heavily. She dared to look back. He was nowhere to be seen. He had moved. Where to? She knew her panting was too loud, but she could not stop it, her lungs were screaming for oxygen. It was mercifully dark in the forest, but he only needed to follow the wheezing sounds she made to find her. Anger welled up inside her. She wanted to live! Why hadn’t Anna finished him! She must have been too weak. If only she had a weapon. The frustration of being so helpless made her even more angry. I will fight him, she thought. This time, I will scratch his eyes out before he can hurt me again. Martha slid down the tree trunk until she cowered on the wet cold ground, making herself as small a target as possible. She concentrated on the sounds of the night. He was injured and furious, he would not approach like a seasoned hunter but would storm through the darkness in search of her. When she heard him coming, she could hide or run away from him. She wasn’t quite sure what she would do, but this time she would not make it easy for him.