Review by Booklist Review
Internet-famous, queer-erotica author Tingle presents a timely, authentically chilling story of conversion therapy and its traumatic effects (and that's before the arrival of literal demons). Twenty-year-old Rose is a model member of Kingdom of the Pines, an evangelical Christian sect known for Camp Damascus, a conversion camp boasting a perfect success rate. Like a good Kingdom Kid, autistic Rose follows the Four Tenets, though that means curbing her natural curiosity and self-soothing behaviors. Yet she can't help how betrayed she feels when she's afflicted by terrifying events, including vomiting flies and being stalked by a demon. Once Rose realizes these afflictions happen when she daydreams about a girl she thought was imaginary, it's only a matter of time before she uncovers the truth about Camp Damascus. Tingle takes his time getting to the awful reveal, allowing the intensity of the dread to build while featuring the all-too-real horrors of a community steeped in religion without love. Violence, gore, and body horror abound, yet Rose's journey, in which she learns to be her authentic self, including differentiating her faith in God from her faith in this specific religious community, is entirely sincere and hopeful. Readers looking for queer horror will find this triggering but also cathartic.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Erotica author Tingle (Space Raptor Butt Invasion) makes his full-length, traditionally published debut with an eerie but empowering queer horror story. Neverton, Mont., is home to the Kingdom of the Pines, a Christian sect whose claim to fame is their conversion therapy program, Camp Damascus. At the novel's start, autistic narrator Rose Darling is a god-fearing 20-year-old high school senior ("Kingdom kids" take two years off school to study the Bible) who has fully bought into the sect's ideology and is proud of Camp Damascus's "100 percent success rate." Then she vomits up bugs at family dinner and begins seeing demonic apparitions whenever she experiences desire toward women--especially her friend Martina, who winds up murdered by one of these demons. It becomes apparent that Rose's parents and her so-called therapist are gaslighting her, a creeping sensation compounded by flashes of memory of a relationship with a woman. The first act is an exercise in slowly mounting dread; then, once the pieces of Rose's past fall into place, she sets out on a righteous revenge mission. It's a fresh take on the exorcism trope, made richer by biblical allusions and subtle engagement with Peter Pan. With plenty of crossover YA appeal, this chilling page-turner should win Tingle a slew of new fans. Agent: Dongwon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (July)
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Review by Library Journal Review
The evangelical Christian town of Neverton, MT, is home to Camp Damascus, reputed to be one of the most successful LGBTQIA+ conversion centers in the country. Twenty-year-old Rose, a neurodivergent high school senior, is entirely on board with the religious beliefs of her community and has never questioned the town's happy facade. Then awful events start happening to her--she vomits flies during dinner, and she's haunted by hideous creatures whenever she thinks longingly of other women, particularly her friend Martina. Rose discovers that those closest to her are keeping sinister secrets, and soon she begins to question everything she knows about the community, herself, and God. Two-time Hugo finalist Tingle (Straight) offers a spectacular new novel that departs from his trademark queer erotic fiction. Narrator Mara Wilson perfectly captures Rose, a hopeful young woman about to graduate high school who bravely confronts long-held beliefs and assumptions. Wilson's portrayal of Rose as she comes to understand the horrors surrounding her is sensitive and full of heart. VERDICT Tingle's foray into a new genre pays off. Share with horror fans looking for complex, multilayered characters and unexpected storylines or anyone seeking piercing commentary on faith, conversion therapy, and religious trauma.--Elyssa Everling
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