Amber Fitzpatrick is aged seventeen. For much of her life she has been in foster care and boarding school. When her mother died the authorities tried but failed to track down her father. The failure to find her father pleased Amber, since the father known to the authorities is a very different man to the father Amber knows from experience.
Amber’s father belongs to a cult obsessed with the end of days. He insists that Amber should live her life in conformity with this obsession and with the inflexible rules it posits, limiting her contact with unbelievers.
Just before one Christmas the authorities hand Amber a letter. It is from her father. It suggests he is on the point of making contact with his daughter. From this prospect Amber must flee. Darnton’s narrative now revolves around two questions. Will Amber’s father succeed in making contact with her? And what will be the consequences if contact is made?
Darnton documents in telling detail the suffering Amber endures and the hopelessness of her struggle for a better life. This makes for a dark book. There are some painful flashbacks to earlier stages in Amber’s life and to the period when her father’s obsessive ideas were taking root. Amber has been trained by her father to injure and even to kill the enemies of the cult. There is also sexual abuse and violence. To any reader interested in making a journey into a strange and dangerous mind, relishing the opportunity to examine a weird psychology, this is a compelling book, though it may not suit over-sensitive readers. RB