Moonbeam is a teenager on the edge.
At 17, she's just survived a deadly invasion from the FBI & the ATF as they stormed her home - the Lord's Legion in Texas.
Now she finds herself in between the hospital and an interrogation room as the shrinks and the police try to piece together what exactly went on behind the barbed-wire fences of the strange religious compound in the desert.
What went on will send icy fingernails up your spine.
The Lord's Legion is commanded by Father John. Father John believes he is the new Prophet, the mouth of God. In his mind he must prepare his followers for the upcoming apocalypse. This includes training fourteen year olds how to shoot automatic rifles, marrying teenage girls and cracking down on the unbelievers within his "Family" with punishments so harsh they'd make Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction proud.
The story rotates between Moonbeam's discussions with a psychologist and an FBI agent & her flashbacks from her time living with the Lord's Legion.
Hill acknowledges that he drew inspiration from the siege at Waco, Texas in the early '90s when over 80 people from the Branch Davidians died after a standoff with the authorities. Father John is David Koresh, Jim Jones, Alex Jones and almost a Manson-type character all rolled into one in my opinion. He never strays from the "True Path" yet abides by a separate set of rules for his own behaviour. He hands down punishments in a sadistic manner that belies his stoic appearance.
Growing up in Eastern Canada, I was obsessed with cults as a kid and early teen. There was a small group of religious militants that lived thirty minutes from me that attempted to build an ark to prepare for the end times. They never finished it and it laid stranded like a rotten wooden sea monster for years on the beach until waves of half-drunk teens destroyed it over the years.
After the Fire reminded me of them, how obsessed they must have been to get started on an endeavour like that. Hill's Legion is no different, led by Father John they blindly move towards an end that they know must come, because John says it will, end of argument.
Of course, there is a seed of dissention within the Legion, a little seed on the verge of being drowned in rhetoric and fear but it's there. If it survives is another thing, you'll have to read this startling thriller to find out!