‘Children of the Sun’ by Beth Lewis | @HodderFiction

Author : Beth Lewis
Title : Children of the Sun
Pages : 430
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : May 25, 2023
Source : Netgalley


Summer 1982. Deep in the Adirondack Mountains, over three hundred people live off-grid in a secret community. Atlas is a refuge for broken souls who long for a different life. Founded by the enigmatic Sol, the group now prepares for their final ceremony: the opening of the Golden Door. They believe they will cross to another world, to a new life where their past decisions never ended in tragedy.

James Morrow is a rookie New York City reporter intent on making his name with an exposé of the crazy cult in the woods. He secures an invitation to the camp on the condition he tell the world of its wonders, but James is a sceptic. He’s sure there must be more to the mysterious leader and his endgame than his followers have signed up for.

James soon finds there is a darker side to the cult beyond the prayers and yellow robes. A group of children are treated like gods, there are iron strips embedded in the earth, and nobody talks about what’s behind the gates of Sol’s private sanctuary. As James learns the stories of the members and how they came to be there, he begins to understand the desperate nature of their beliefs – a desperation he knows all too well.

As the final ceremony draws near, James must ask himself: what will it cost them to reach this other life? And is that a price he’s willing to pay?


How far would you go for a second chance?

The year is 1982. The place is somewhere in the Adirondack Mountains. Reporter James Morrow secures an invitation to a secret community, founded by a charismatic man called Sol. More than 300 followers are awaiting the sun ellipse so they can step through the Golden Door, where they will be given a second chance and their past decisions never ended in tragedy.

James can relate. He lost his boyfriend a year ago. That’s also partly why he is here. He is looking for a woman called Maria, who he holds responsible for his boyfriend’s death. But this is one tight-knit community and nobody is talking. Or James is asking the wrong questions. There are so many that need answers too. Why are a few children treated like they’re little gods, with their own special table, and their own special food? Why does the rest of the community not talk to them, or even look at them? Why are there iron strips that give off sparks of electricity embedded in the earth? What is behind the gates of Sol’s private sanctuary?

Honestly, I saw the world “cult” and that was enough for me to decide I desperately wanted to read this new Beth Lewis book. Is this a cult though? Sol is first and foremost a scientist. He claims he has found a way to open a door between alternate realities. So while in this reality your child, for instance, has died because of something you did/said/didn’t do/didn’t say, they are very much still alive in the alternate reality where you opted for another decision. Your second chance at doing the right thing is just around the corner. Each and every one of Sol’s member has a story to tell. One moment in time where they made the wrong decision that ended in tragedy and changed their lives forever. I’m sure many of us can relate. So if given the opportunity to step through the door and discover that alternate life … what would you do?

The reader also meets Root. They are one of the special children and through their eyes you get a little bit of a feel for what goes on in the commune. I use they/them because Root’s gender is indeterminable. Root is definitely special, a character to warm your heart from the second you meet them. Root is part of a group of children called the sunbeams and the sunbeams are the most important thing as they are the ones who will open that Golden Door. Just like James, you can never really shake off the feeling that Root and his pals just might be in danger, though.

Lastly, there is Eve. She is looking for the place where the commune used to be. She is desperate to find Sol, to vent her anger, maybe even to kill him. As interesting as her search for clues was, it did always leave me feeling a bit miffed at having to leave the camp, where James and Root were, behind. I was far more fascinated by what was happening there. Far more involved in the characters, and their fate.

The characterisation in this novel is just of a completely different level.Their pain and grief is almost palpable. There were moments where I could feel the tears stinging behind my eyes. The faith they have in Sol is hard to fathom, as it always is where cults are concerned. Why are they so blindly following a man who is so blatantly obviously going to get them killed?

Just when you think you’ve read all you can about cults, along comes Beth Lewis and turns the whole thing on its head.’Children of the Sun‘ is so incredibly cleverly plotted and while I had an inkling as to how some things were connected, it didn’t matter at all. The setting is brilliant, the characters will just pull you into the story and not let go. Sometimes a chilling tale, but always utterly absorbing and I found it truly hard to put this novel down because I wanted to know what happened to these 300 something damaged souls.

Children of the Sun‘ is most definitely another contender for my book of the year. It’s a story about belief, and faith, and grief, and whatever the thing is that will guide us through the dark times to find the light again. I devoured it, I loved it, and I definitely recommend it.

Amazon UK

My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  8 comments for “‘Children of the Sun’ by Beth Lewis | @HodderFiction

  1. May 18, 2023 at 8:28 am

    It had me at cult too 😂 And knowing it’s one of your favourite books so far this year doesn’t hurt either 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 25, 2023 at 8:40 am

      Although to be fair I have quite a list of those. It’s going to be impossible to choose a winner. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 18, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    This sounds really good, I definitely want to read or listen to it! Fantastic review! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 25, 2023 at 8:40 am

      So glad to hear that, Nicki! Hope you enjoy it whenever you get around to it. I’m always so worried I oversold things 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo
    May 19, 2023 at 5:19 pm

    Now I’m even more excited to read this! x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. May 22, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Fantastic review! This goes straight to my wishlist. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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