Cults Uncovered: True Stories of Mind Control and Murder is written by Emily G. Thompson – an investigative reporter from Northern Ireland and host of the true crime website and podcast Morbidology.
Over the past year Emily has become one of my favourite true crime authors (be sure to check out her other books Unsolved Child Murders and Unsolved Murders: True Crime Cases Uncovered), so I was thrilled when I was asked to review her new book…even when I learned it was about cults!
Stories about cults are one of my least favourite true crime subjects. I am not sure why this is the case seeing as my interest in true crime was in large part inspired by reading Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter (and Nancy Drew…a story for another day), but instead of trying to solve the riddle of my psychology let us dive into Emily’s book.
In only 233 pages Cults Uncovered highlights 18 stories about cult groups from the nineteenth century to the present. Covering cases from Charles Manson to Aum Shinrikyo, you are given a glimpse into a variety of terrifying cults from around the globe.
Front cover of Cults Uncovered (suitably spooky!)
I found the format of the book to be especially reader friendly. It is broken into concise, factual chapters that open with an attention-grabbing introduction as well as a quote about the case to draw you in. The use of photographs really adds texture to the stories, though it would be ideal if they were interwoven within the pages of their associated case, but I think this is rarely done to cut down on printing costs. Placing detailed citations at the end of each story is really helpful for those who want to delve more into a particular case.
One thing I wish Cults Uncovered offered is an examination into the psychology behind belief. Perhaps a Conclusion tying the cases together would provide the space to examine them through this lens. Anyhow, I bet Emily would have found the reasons for extreme belief as unique as the people themselves, which is, indeed, a terrifying idea; it makes it all the more difficult to prevent people from falling under the spell of a cult leader.
You will love how Emily explores both infamous and obscure cases – the obscure cases in particular captured my interest. I had never heard of The Ant Hill Kids case (and a part of me wishes that was still true!). I will not give anything about the cult away, but I will say I am Canadian and I was shocked I had never heard of this horrifying case that occurred in my own country.
If you are a fan of true crime and the inner workings of the human mind, Cults Uncovered: True Stories of Mind Control and Murder should be on the top of your to-read pile. Emily’s work on cults is sure to hold you captive.
Interested in true crime mysteries? Listen to our podcast episode on the disappearance of Caitlin Potts and read our article on the unsolved Austin yogurt shop murders.
*Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.