Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published Date: 22 June 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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

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

Now the Kevinian Prophet has been murdered and the camp set aflame and it's clear Minnow knows something. But she's not talking. As she adjusts to a life behind bars in juvenile detention, Minnow struggles to make sense of all she has been taught to believe, particularly as she dwells on 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 is willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Powerful and compelling. this remarkable and brave debut novel reveals the terrible dangers of blind faith. And the importance of having faith in yourself.
(summary from Goodreads)

Brilliant and terrifying, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a thought-provoking read that demands your attention from start to finish.

Oakes has crafted a magnificent debut. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is the kind of book you won't easily forget. It is an atmospheric read that will have you questioning so much about the world. Oakes weaves such violent and horrific moments with real beauty and hope, and it's this that resonates with me. It's true to life. The good goes hand in hand with the bad. I've not read a book quite like this before, with a look into that cult mentality. In taking on the topic of religion, there's always a way it can go wrong, but Oakes handles it with care. She provides a balance, offering point of views between both extremes - that is, the good and the bad - while also offering parallels between religion and science so that readers can do what Dr Wilson tells Minnow - learn for ourselves and make up our own minds. Even after the end, you're left to make up your own mind about where you think Minnow's journey is headed next. This is probably one of the few times I was really okay with an open ending because it suits the tone of the rest of the book. Oakes's writing style adds to the overall feel of The Sacred Lies Minnow Bly. Alternating between Minnow's present in the juvenile detention center and her past with the Community, the tension mounts as you read. Oakes evokes real fear of what Minnow is going to reveal and what will happen to her. Oakes has a way of describing even the most horrific of things in a lyrical way that truly plays on your imagination. In this way, no matter your overall feeling about the book, it gets under your skin.

For me, Minnow made The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. Despite her being uneducated outside the Community, there's a real curiosity and an instinctive intelligence to Minnow. She's smart and strong, and you feel for her from page one. Likewise, I really loved Angel. Her circumstances broke my heart and made me so, so angry. Going in, I had certain expectations about Angel but Oakes blew them right out of the water. The friendship that developed between Minnow and Angel was hilarious, honest and so inspiring. It's much the same with Dr Wilson. I enjoyed getting to know these secondary characters and it moved me how Angel and Dr Wilson became real champions of Minnow. They provide the much needed hope throughout this book. Jude is a little different. I liked his relationship with Minnow, but at the same time I was wary of it. It's interesting though, the contrast he allowed Oakes to offer, between not just his way of like and that of the Community's, but of what his support does for Minnow compared to Angel's and Dr Wilson's. Every character shapes Minnow's life and way of looking at the world, and so they too shape The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, providing hope and heartache and ensuring we feel this story. 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a captivating read that will have you asking the big questions and keep you pondering long after you've finished.



  1. Sounds very intriguing, I hadn't heard of this book before and you've got my attention with it! Thanks for the great review xx

    1. It's soooo good! It was a book club pick this month, but quite a few members didn't much like it. I hope you enjoy it if you read it! Thanks, Thea. :-D

  2. Wow. After Amani's River this seems right up my alley. Thanks for posting about it.

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I hadn't heard of Amani's River, but I just checked it out. Sounds heartbreaking. I'll be sure to add it to my TBR list. Thanks!

  3. Awesome review. I can’t wait to read this one. It’s on my TBR shelf right now.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks, AJ! I definitely recommend this one, it's such a great read.

  4. Wonderful review! I've been wanting to read this ever since I saw it up and about on the blogosphere. :D

    Blessie @ Mischievous Reads

    1. Yes, me too! I'd read an excerpt and just wanted more! I was very happy it was a book club read. I hope you like it when you read it. :-D Thank you, Blessie.