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Forbidden deals with the controversial subject of religious cults, focusing on Elinor and her life in True Cause under the control of Howard, its charismatic leader. The details of the austere and punitive life in the sect are chillingly revealed through Elinor's accounts of her everyday routines. These are the more affecting for their deadened quality - a sort of hypnosis or trance in which none of the distractions of the outside world or even of her own thoughts and memories can be allowed to intrude. This almost catatonic state is pierced by the arrival of Jamie, who rouses Elinor to begin to think for herself. Gradually, as her conditioning breaks down, she sees how the followers are manipulated and used to provide a source of wealth for Howard and his sinister bodyguard and adviser Rael - perhaps even the spelling of his name demonstrates how reality has been distorted by the cult. The skill of the narrative is in showing how Elinor slowly emerges from the brainwashing inflicted on her by the cult - its weakest element is the convenience and neatness of its happy resolution.