Frightful Friday: The Innocent by Taylor Stevens

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button & join in!

This week’s featured book is The Innocent by Taylor Stevens:

  • Hardcover:352 pages
  • Publisher:Crown (December 27, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0307717127
  • Source: Publisher

In the follow up to The Informationist , Vanessa Michael Munroe returns for yet another mission, this one hitting a bit closer to home.  It requires her to once again take a step inside the cult world, this time to rescue a young girl.

Eight years ago, five-year-old Hannah was abducted from her school, taken across the border into Mexico, and into the arms of The Chosen.  For the past several years, members of the cult have moved her from country to country to hide her.  A group of childhood survivors of The Chosen, now in their thirties, have survived life outside the cult. They see the “outside” world isn’t as it was portrayed by the cult leaders, and they are desperate free Hannah from the abusive conditions of the cult. They turn to Munroe, realizing they have to put faith in someone that doesn’t trust them in order to get Hannah back.  The line “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes into play in this novel quite a bit.

Realizing first-hand the conditions of living in a cult, Munroe agrees and heads to Argentina. The mission is at the request of her best friend Logan, a man that has been there for Munroe through thick and thin.  Munroe is a seriously wounded individual, nightmares about her past plague her nightly. Her fate would be far different if it were not for Logan.

Assuming the role of a donor to The Chosen, Munroe is able to get inside the cult’s compound and see just how “brainwashed” the member are, especially the children. They have been warned of the dangers of the outside world, told that individuals on the outside are lying and deceitful, set against putting an end to the cult. For many, the cult is all they know; they’ve become ingrained in the teachings and take what they are told to heart.  When Munroe is able to locate Hannah, she doesn’t have the easiest time in convincing her to leave. Hannah is now a teen, her formative years spent hearing the teachings of the cult over and over again. Despite knowing some of the actions of the leaders seem wrong, she is told that her compliance is her duty and her way of showing love and respect to the leaders.

Several scenes throughout the book are quite disturbing: male leaders touching the children inappropriately, older female children being led off to be raped by the older leaders. Certainly not a light read, but coming from a a former member of a cult herself, the author gains credibility and credence immediately.

While not as “action-heavy” as the The Informationist  I really appreciated seeing the weaker side of Munroe. Despite her strong appearance, she really is a damaged individual and in The Innocent, her stability has reached an all new low. Her obsession with knives, her determination to stop at nothing to complete a mission, is all a way for her to deal with her incredibly troubled past.

As with The Informationist , in The Innocent Taylor Stevens portrays an incredibly unique storyline, well developed (and slightly disturbed) characters, a fantastic, fast-paced thriller. This is book that will entice you from the beginning, the action carrying through to the conclusion. I cannot wait for more from this author, she’s quickly become one of my favorite female thriller authors.  I’m excited for the next book in this series, The Doll, due out in 2013.  Highly recommended!

6 Responses to Frightful Friday: The Innocent by Taylor Stevens

  1. I’m looking forward to reading both books by this author. Such an interesting premise and made even more authentic by the background of the author herself. Thanks for highlighting this one!

  2. I’ve read the first book and loved it. This sounds even better!

  3. Anita
    Twitter: anitalovesbooks

    Wow, I just read about this author and her books on Shelf Awareness this morning, I was intrigued. Thanks to your review I’m adding these to my list.

  4. Julie
    Twitter: JulieJustReads

    I liked how we got to delve a little deeper into Munroe as well. Plus I loved that Miles was around too. *swoon*

    I’m excited for The Doll as well.

  5. I’m so far behind – I still need to read The Informationist.

  6. I agree that Taylor Stevens is a great new mystery-thriller writer. I was glad to see that “The Innocent” had the same style as “The Informationist”. I’m glad to hear that she has another book coming out soon as well.