Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Melanie Dobson's The Black Cloister ~ Reviewed

By Melanie Dobson
Published By: Kregel Publications
ISBN# 978-082-5424434
288 pages

Back Cover:

The Black Cloister is a suspense novel about two young women—one who is traveling across Germany in search of answers about her past and another who is trapped in an abusive religious cult and doesn't know how to break free.

The idea for this story was sparked a few years ago while my family and I were living in the former East Germany. As I visited Martin Luther's Wittenberg and learned about the Reformation, I was intrigued by Katharina von Bora (Martin Luther's wife) and her daring escape from a German abbey.

When we returned to the States, I met a woman who had been raised overseas in an abusive religious cult. I began researching cults, and the initial idea about Katharina's escape grew into a contemporary novel that exposes the corruption and spiritual abuse of cult leaders as well as illustrates the balance of God's grace with obedience and service to Him.


This book grabbed at my heart strings right away. Melanie unveils a cult named "Chosen". Elise wonders how any intelligent person could ever get involved in an occult. She couldn't understand how people stayed in an occult once they knew what it was? When Elise gets right into the heart of the matter and faces the leader of the group "Chosen", she had no idea who she is messing with. She needs help but how can she go about getting it? She went to Europe with her own money and of her own free will. She lied to her family and friends about where she was going and what she was doing in Europe. Why would anyone search for her? Help her? What was she thinking when she went on this trip? Answers!! She should have thought about how to get out of a bind once she got into one. She had no clue as to how big and powerful this cult "Chosen" was.

How do cults begin? How do they keep going? This book does answer some of these questions for you. It also shows how cults twist the word of God in people's heads and get them to believe a lie. Elise is a young woman driven to find answers to her past. Who is she? Where did she come from? No one will tell her. She wants answers and she wants them now. Why won't anyone tell her about her mother? About her past? Her mother is dead and she doesn't know who her biological father is. Why won't her adoptive father Steve tell her? She has to take matters in her own hands. She has waited long enough.

Elise embarks on a mission trip to Europe to find information about her mother and her past. She doesn't have many clues to go on, but she knows that her mother's name is Catrina and she was born in Germany. She has told her adoptive family that she is off to Europe on a trip for school. She has made an appointment with her mother's closest friend Addison Wade, who has political connections and aspirations. While Elise is over seas she will find out the information that she is seeking (one way or other); Addison had to know something. It just might be the last thing she gets to do in her young life. Elise has no idea what she is up against and how dangerous it is, but she soon realizes that this might have been the biggest mistake in her life.

Elise has gone to college to study women's history. She feels it might be her mission in life to teach women about their past in history, so that they can overcome their circumstances just like the women before them did. Just like Katharina von Bora did. She was a woman that escaped from the abbey in Europe. She found freedom in Christ which lead to her marrying Martin Luther. Together they changed the world, and Elise also wanted to make big changes in her world. She knew that educating women was the key to such change. She would help teach a whole new generation of women about overcoming their situations like Katharina von Bora who have success stories against incredible odds of failure.

This story was an eye opener! It revealed the deep pain that is inflicted on innocent person when they become a cult member. Melanie felt the need to tell this story and raise awareness about how dangerous cults can be, and how they are not so easy to get out of once you are in. She discovered this affter her encounter with a woman that was raised overseas in an abusive religious cult. The message of this book is one of hope, and recovery. It will change the way you think about cults, for sure. This a story you won't soon forget.

Nora St. Laurent
– Book Club Servant Leader

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