Following the death of her foster parents, Amanda moves in with a new foster family, the Hennings, to undertake her senior year at high school. Mr. Henning is an administrator at the Monarch Preparatory School for Girls, whose campus they live on. It’s difficult going to a new school, and with this school not all is as it seems.
I can’t remember a time when I’ve read an opening to a book like this. Within a couple of pages my jaw had dropped. This is one shocking opening that I won’t spoil, but wow, this is a powerful way to start a book. It was a real punch in the face.
It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the school is run by satanists who are using the girls for satanic rituals. I’ve mentioned it before, but any satanist story I read takes me back to the headlines during the 1980s about the satanic panic that swept the nation. The media and evangelists were convinced of a deep, insidious network of satanists controlling society and institutions. Truly fascinating. Alas there was little fascination to follow with this book.
As you’d expect, there is plenty of sex and deviant debauchery in the name of Lucifer. Unfortunately, the horror takes a back seat to the sex. It’s so far back it might not be on the same bus. What had been a gripping start meandered as the plot treaded water and we followed Amanda’s teenage coming of age trials. This slow down was coupled with a big problem I have with the book- child sexual abuse. This is a horror book, and I eagerly read the foulest things, so I’m not one to take offense or get on a moral high horse. However this didn’t sit right with me. There was more abuse than I feel was necessary to get the point across that these are bad people. The reactions of the children also are really uncomfortable in a way they shouldn’t be. The sexual exploits were gratuitous. I felt like the author was trying to titillate the reader with their actions. That may not have been his intention, but that was how it came across. There wasn’t any wider plot point that hinged on it, and to be honest it takes up most of the book. Is it horrific? Yes. Is it horror? No.
Where I was expecting occult horror, I got something else and that was disappointing. The horror was too infrequent and it never really developed into anything more that what was presented at face value. There was little gore or violence after the opening. I wish I had something more positive to say, but I don’t.
Book Cover Blurb:
A family tragedy thrusts Amanda into the foster care of the Henning family at the start of her senior year of high school. Amanda soon learns that the prestigious private school isn’t what it seems. Monarch Preparatory School for Girls is a place plagued by rampant teen pregnancy, promiscuity, and violence.
Amanda is confused when Kat, who rules the school, befriends her. Perhaps more confusing, though, are her momentary lapses in memory, misplaced or moved objects, and instances of depravity taking place within the Henning household.
Unbeknownst to Amanda, Ceremonial Father conducts ritual sacrifice and blood orgies with a group of Satanists.
What is truly happening at Monarch Prep? Can Amanda make it to graduation? Most of all, what role will she play?