Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult

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Pub Date 15 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 25 Oct 2021

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This gripping drama follows Tom Duncan, the sole survivor of the largest cult mass suicide in U.S. history, as he works to rebuild his shattered life. After a Netflix documentary accuses Tom of masterminding the plot that led to the deaths of one hundred thirty-seven people, including his wife, he finds himself exiled from his home and family. Tom seeks redemption through a weekend memorial with other cult members who escaped before the grisly end.
In Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord, we see how well-meaning people seeking spiritual community can become ensnared in webs of intrigue and deadly manipulation. Through the lens of a Netflix documentary as well as Tom's personal struggle, this book takes readers on a journey through the dark heart of a simple Iowa commune gone horribly wrong.

This gripping drama follows Tom Duncan, the sole survivor of the largest cult mass suicide in U.S. history, as he works to rebuild his shattered life. After a Netflix documentary accuses Tom of...

A Note From the Publisher

Kyle McCord is the author of six books, including National Poetry Series Finalist Magpies in the Valley of Oleanders (Trio House Press, 2016) and X-Rays and Other Landscapes (Trio House Press, 2019). He has work featured in AGNI, Blackbird, Boston Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He has received grants and awards from The Academy of American Poets, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Baltic Writing Residency. He serves as Executive Editor of Gold Wake Press and teaches at Drake University in Des Moines. He is married to visual artist Lydia McCord. They have an adorable son named August.

Kyle McCord is the author of six books, including National Poetry Series Finalist Magpies in the Valley of Oleanders (Trio House Press, 2016) and X-Rays and Other Landscapes (Trio House Press, 2019)...

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ISBN 9781639880447
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Featured Reviews

I DO love a good cult story,and this book puts a new spin on it,having one sole survivor from mass suicide.
It doesn't go too much into detail of the cult itself,rather the aftermath of those left behind,not just the lobe survivor,but people who had left the cult,or those from the town the cult lived.
Some really interesting things in here.
For me,I enjoyed the new angle on a fascinating subject.

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My brain jumped with joy at the word cult in the description and that was that. Cults hold an endless fascination for me and I will read all about them.
This one, The Good Weather cult, is a fascinating creation, one resulting in the largest cult suicide on US soil (since Jonestown massacre was in South America). Not quite Jonestown numbers either, but 137 dead, including women and children and in a way that’s considerably more horrifying. With only a sole survivor, a man left to try to rebuild his life from the ashes.
Tom Duncan didn’t mean to join a cult, he was dragged into it by his wife, one of the original devotees. But he stayed in it, for decades, and now being the only one left alive he is a punching bag of public outrage, anguish and disdain. Tom tries to start over with his now adult daughter and young grandchild, but there’s too much ugliness surrounding him, it isn’t safe for him or his family. And so in interest of closure he attends the eponymous reunion and during the few emotionally charged days attempts to sort out all of the unclaimed baggage left to him by his past. It doesn’t go smoothly, trauma processing seldom does, but it’s a necessary journey for Tom, one that may lead to redemption and a way forward in his life.
Cult or not (although given a choice, cult every time), this was a very good dramatic story. The extraordinary circumstances of its protagonist’s life made for a very engaging, emotional read. It was well written and featured fascinatingly complex characters. There are so many cult stories that focus on the cult itself and here the focus was on the aftermath, not the tragedy of dying, but the tragedy or survival. The author did that very cleverly, reminding the audience that the survivor, while vilified by the public opinion, is actually also a victim.
The narrative is interspersed with the excerpts of the popular true crime style documentary about the cult, which was very cleverly done too. I don’t watch that sort of television, it’s too tawdry, too prurient, too emotionally manipulative. But it’s very popular and it’s easy to understand why…there’s a lot of interest in such aberrant behavior and mentality. Cults and serial killers are what sells. But for me, I’ll take the fictionized, fictional option.
A very good book. I’d enjoy it a lot more if the publisher’s advanced reading copy was properly formatted, but it was readable as is. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

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Was fascinated by the premise. Cult commits mass suicide and the sole survivor of that act is thrown under the bus by a poorly edited Netflix documentary featuring people looking to stick the deaths of the members on him regardless of the factual evidence. We see the aftermath through the eyes of Tom Duncan and his struggles dealing with the fallout of the mass suicide and his life even after being cleared of all charges.

I found the book the be entertaining and wondered how they would wrap things up with a bow. Despite questioning the actions of the protagonist took, the author did a great job making you understand why they were chosen despite the obvious path. Definitely recommend it to anyone who finds the premise intriguing.

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Thank you to the publishers and author for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
I really enjoyed this book!
I love reading pretty much anything to do with cults as they fascinate me.
I also loved the whole Netflix documentary part I though it was unique and highly entertaining!
I definitely recommend this book if you like books about cults.

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I got this book through Netgalley. It's really original and like nothing I have read before. It focusses on a survivor gets blaimed by society and how he handels it (not always that well). The Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult's subject is dark, so this book isn't for everyone.

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After reeling me in with its fascinating title, I found 'Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult' hard to put down. The title is an accurate description of the subject of the story. Tom Duncan was the only survivor of a mass murder/suicide by members of the (fictional) Good Weather cult in Iowa, USA. Initially accused of planning the atrocity, Duncan has been released to live in the community but a popular Netflix expose of the cult means he is hounded by press and accusing members of the public. Then he receives an invitation to a reunion for former members of the cult - people who left/escaped before the final massacre. Is the gathering an opportunity to put past ghosts to rest, or a chance to reopen old wounds?

The narration alternates between Tom's present-day life before and during the reunion, and excerpts from the documentary. The latter are well handled and give a strong sense of the type of show it was. I could picture it very clearly in my mind as if it were something I'd really watched. Tom is likeable enough protagonist, although the reader is always somewhat wary of him due to the uncertainty about his past. McCord does a good job of making Tom seem incredibly ordinary - even somewhat dull - which makes him easier to sympathise with.

The events depicted are upsetting - whilst the narrative doesn't dwell on the gore, your imagination will likely do a good job on its own. Readers who might find this theme triggering or overly distressing may be better to avoid the novel - it's too much an integral part of the story to simply cut out the relevant parts.

If you don't mind that element though, it's an extremely compelling story - I found it difficult to stop reading from the very beginning. Of course there's a natural fascination with events of this type, and the fact this one is fictitious made it easier to read about and indulge that fascination without feeling bad about it. I was intrigued to understand what really happened and how things unfolded, and how - if - Tom and the remaining cult members would rebuild their lives. The former cult members are shown to be 'normal' (whatever that means) people with a sense of humour and it was possible to understand why they had been drawn into the community and that with the right circumstances and bad luck, the same could have happened to us or people we know.

Overall it is a really well written and very gripping story about a difficult topic and a good read for anyone who likes literary fiction (trigger warnings aside).

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the Kindle ARC. This was a unique story for me. Very timely, the book is about a cult that commits mass suicide with only one survivor, Tom Duncan. A Netflix documentary and public opinion conclude that since Tom survived, he must be the mastermind behind the entire plot. Not true. Good Weather Suicide Cult was fascinating because Kyle McCord seems to have researched cults and cult mentality very well. From Jonestown to Waco to Nvixivm, the story rings true. The characters are developed and the book almost seems like non-fiction, following the life of Tom Duncan after the mass suicide.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book.

I enjoyed this, thought Tom Duncan was a memorable protagonist. The novel has something interesting to say about the ethics of true crime, and notably skewers the Netflix approach to that genre.

I struggled at times with the narrative voice - which felt like it moved through several distinct styles as the novel progressed. I would've liked a little more specificity and consistency.

Cults are a source of endless fascination and certainly the first 100 pages harnessed that intrigue, and that mystery. I did wonder, in the second half, whether the point of view of the cult in question felt original or startling enough. That's always the challenge of taken on a well worn subject and The Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult doesn't always quite meet it.

Nonetheless, I read the novel in two days, and was fully invested throughout. Definitely worth reading if the subject appeals.

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*I have received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Cults. I’ve read and listened to a lot on that topic. I know things that my mom considers creepy to know. But I can’t help it. I’m absolutely consumed by intrigue. When I saw this book on NetGalley, it was an instant request. And I was checking my inbox regularly to see if they’d accepted me, not expecting them to. I was elated when they responded.

This book follows Tom Duncan, who is the only person at the Good Weather cult camp that survived the night of their mass suicide. Unfortunately, these things don’t just go away. A Netflix documentary is made about that night that includes Tom’s interviews with a detective who believes Tom masterminded that whole thing. The documentary gains traction, and suddenly people on the street feel like they know him, and they don’t like who they know.

After being told by his daughter that she needs space and he needs to leave, Tom finds himself at a reunion of other people who had been a part of Good Weather at one time or another but were not there that night. All of whom have had drastic differences in how they experienced the camp. There are laughs, shared secrets, and heartbreaks.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐(3 stars)

I was worried because I’d never read about a fictional cult before, only true crime stores. How would it compare to all of the information stored in my mind? I was pleasantly surprised. McCord knows his stuff about cults. How they operate, what type of people lead them, etc. Good Weather felt like a place I could easily hear about on one of the podcasts I listen to. I was ready to hear the sordid details and feel all of the feelings.

Unfortunately, the only real feeling I felt was solemnity. There wasn’t much in the way of happiness, or horror, or awe. There was some sadness and the rest an even-keeled solemnity. I wanted to feel more; I wanted to be more surprised; I wanted a bigger reveal.

Tom was likable, and I wanted him to get off well in the end. But there was no significant character growth. His daughter once mentioned therapy for him, and he never even considered it. He didn’t seem to get over any of the crucial problems that ailed him. We never saw him do anything for those issues aside from reconnecting with others from the cult.

Lastly, a tiny thing seemed to be an inconsistency to me, and that just bugged me. I wished I could ask the author to explain it to me, but it will always bug me now.

The book was well written and an easy read. But it wasn’t anything too exciting. However, I commend McCord, and I’ll keep an eye out for other books .

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Tom Duncan is the sole survivor of the Good Weather Cult mass suicide. After a Netflix docuseries is released pointing fingers at Tom, aka Ohio, he struggles to reintegrate into life outside of Good Weather following the deaths of his wife and friends. Tom receives an invitation to attend a reunion of former Good Weather members who had left the cult prior to the mass suicide.

When I saw the description of this book I was instantly intrigued, I am fascinated by stories of cults and how rational people can be lead astray when in a community lead by a charismatic and manipulative leader. Good Weather certainly paints the picture of the ways that someone can fall prey to a cult by illustrating the strong sense of community and family the remaining members of Good Weather had with each other. Like many cults in the real world, the members were lonely or looking for direction in their lives and unfortunately the leader, in this case a man who goes by the name of Rain, took advantage of those desires.

I loved the development of the characters and seeing them tackle their grief over the course of this book. I thought it was beautiful the ways that the characters could grieve in their own ways while also grieving together. The interspersed descriptions of the Netflix docuseries helped to paint the picture of public opinion and add drama to the plot.

I did wish there was more of Alle and Anna throughout the book. Both characters had such interesting stories and are so important to Tom it would have been interesting to see them more throughout the story.

Thank you to Atmosphere Press and NetGalley for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review

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Reviews are in for Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord

That this would rate as a solid ❗ on the student resident reading scale (see scale below). I can imagine how my students would enjoy this and its writing style.

For my part, I have a habit of collecting similar topics and digesting content. I'm also currently watching Waco, the miniseries, and a bunch of documentaries about Jonestown, so of course this book has some interesting timing.

The "Netflix Documentary" feel was at first, not my favorite, but grew on me for sure. I cant help but feel frustrated at the protagonists obstacles and truly hate the animosity he faces regularly. I wish better for him, and as the book unfolds these feelings fluctuate and shift often... at some points i'm frustrated and others I feel very empathetically toward the characters and their traumas. The realism and flow of the writing is what keeps you reading.

Thanks @atmospherepress and @netgalley for this digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult will be published on September 15th, 2021

#BookReview #HonestReview #ReunionoftheGoodWeatherSuicideCult #KyleMcCord #NetGalley #ARC #advancedreaderscopy #BookReviewer #2021Books #BookRecommendations #CultBooks #HonestBookReviewer
@bobbyfiggaz #ARC #AdvancedReaderCopies ⁠
#book #bookstagram #reader #reading #booklover #instabook #booksofinstagram

{{{Reading Scale (provided to me by my students) }}}

❌ Was Weak (1)
⭕ Was Stupid (2)
❗ Went Crazy (3)
❗❗ Went Insane (4)

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I really love books centred round cults so was so excited to read this one. The story was engaging and kept me interested. The character development was great! Really enjoyed this one!

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I have a bit of a fascination with cults, though the novels I've read in the past are mostly YA, mostly featuring young women fleeing oppressive religious regimes. The protagonist in this novel is a grandfather- one of a handful who survived a mass suicide attempt and the only survivor who was present at the event itself. He has reunited with his daughter, who was raised outside the cult, and her own young daughter Terra, named in defiance of the cult's obsession with water, specifically rain. Though he's been cleared of any legal responsibility, a recent Netflix documentary has made him the target of hate, and his daughter is forced to ask him to keep his distance for everyone's safety. Coincidentally, an invitation has arrived to a 'reunion' of sorts- two cult members (one who was exiled, one still devoted) and a member's son are meeting at a hotel close to the remains of the cult compound. They are seeking closure, though their proximity to the wilderness where they spent so many years together poses a danger so obvious the reader can't help but wonder...does the protagonist still have a death wish?
The story is told in a non-linear fashion, with 'the facts of the case' revealed in flashbacks and excerpts from interviews from the fictional Netflix documentary (I wonder if Netflix cares that they've been namechecked?) The reader doesn't learn anything that the narrator doesn't, which is particularly frustrating when other characters receive letters that they aren't inclined to share! I would recommend this novel to fans of The Blinds, The Girls, and Nine Identical Strangers- anyone who enjoys non-religious cult strangeness and mystery!

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Thought provoking and well written, this book tells the story of the survivor of a mass suicide. Was he instrumental in orchestrating the suicide or was he a victim like everyone else?

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"Don't buy all the B.S. you hear on the news. I'm sure they'll make it seem like we're a bunch of psychos and not a community of people who all believe the same thing and who don't want to journey through this life alone."

I was super excited going into this read. The premise is exciting and I enjoy cult stories, fictional or non-fictional. This book follows Tom Duncan, the sole survivor of the largest mass suicide in US history. Tom Duncan and his wife were a part of the Good Weather cult for most of their lives and in this story, readers follow as he tries to cope with what happened and how it affects his belief in their message while he also tries to reconnect with his adult daughter. Tom faces a lot a of backlash from the public after Netflix makes a documentary that accuses him of masterminding the mass suicide. As the danger in his life rises, he is invited by former members of the cult for a reunion to commemorate the lives lost.

I really enjoyed the format of this book! One of my favorite parts is that the story is written with sections from Tom's perspective and then, opposite that, there are clips from the Netflix documentary. This is another book that I think is already written to make itself into a very interesting TV show or movie.

I appreciated the content as well. The author really does a great job of making it easy for readers to empathize with the cult members. It can be easy to demonize people that take part in things like this and forget that most cult members take part because they want to be seen and wanted and loved and a charismatic manipulator takes advantage of that. I enjoyed these characters and felt emotionally involved with all of the things they were going through, but this is a short book and I wanted a bit more insight into what they all experienced in the past and present.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone that likes cult stories, true crime, or Netflix documentaries!

CW/TWs: multiple mentions of suicide, one page descriptions of murder/suicide, animal killing, emotional abuse, manipulation, infidelity

Thank you to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for my copy of this book!

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I was fascinated by the premise of this book; I mean how could you not be? A cult commits mass suicide and everyone points the finger at the sole survivor, Tom Duncan. The book follows Tom as he struggles to deal with not only the fallout of the mass suicide, but the aftermath of a poorly done documentary on Netflix. After an incident at a park, Tom meets up with 3 other members of the cult for a reunion. During his time at the reunion, we find out that Tom has been holding on to trauma (of course) he has yet to share with anyone. He discloses some events with a member, Thames, who was both close to Tom’s wife, Alle, and Rain the cult leader.

I found the book to be entertaining and thought the wrap-up was done nicely. I also enjoyed the addition of the documentary, I like podcast type books so that was a nice touch.

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Half the time I was reading this I had to remind myself that this book wasn't a real memoir but a brilliant work of fiction. As a huge true crime fan, it really hit true to so many facts and stories I've heard but still was refreshing in it's originality.

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The Good Weather cult resulted in a huge number of suicide deaths, and of course years later Netflix is there to make a documentary about it. Tom Duncan is the sole survivor of that day. There are accusations that he was also the mastermind.
Through the lens of the documentary, and also Tom meeting with survivors that left the cult before the end, we see how things aren’t always what they seem.

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I was intrigued when I read the blurb for this. I always find the concept of a cult to be fascinating so I was looking forward to this book.

At first, I found the format difficult to adjust to - the whole concept of a Netflix documentary means that it is almost written like a script. However, once I got used to that, I actually quite enjoyed the layout.

The story was interesting and seemed almost as though it could be a true story, so it kept me engaged like non-fiction would.

A different but enjoyable read.

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Tom Duncan is the sole survivor of the Good weather Cult mass suicide. After a Netflix documentary portrays him as a perpetrator in the terrible massacre and not a victim he goes into hiding but an invitation from a few other Good Weather exiles that left before the terrible incident occurred pulls him out and back into the past where he will have to face the not only the decisions he made the the uncover the truth of what really happened.

This was a gripping and addictive story; the Netflix elements made this feel like an actual documentary or true crime podcast. Tom's survivors guilt and his slow revelations of what happened in the leading up to the suicides was so interesting and the focus on the reunion group allowed the reader to see all of the varying emotions from those left behind after a truly horrific event.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review

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This novel centering on remaining members of a cult that took part in a mass suicide was extremely interesting. I think the depth of each character truly speaks to the variety of people who can be dragged under the control of a cult leader/abuser/manipulative person. We all feel it could never be us, but I think McCord goes a long way to proving there is no such thing as a "typical cult member". I can't speak much more to this without ending up in spoiler territory, but the journey this group goes on is surprising and definitely kept me turning the pages.

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So what happens when you are the sole survivor of a cult that commits mass suicide? And then a documentary states that you were involved in killing all your fellow cult members including your wife? Yeah, not the greatest. Because of course that isn't what happened and you are walking around as a scarred victim while strangers are calling you out in the playground where you've taken your sweet little granddaughter. Given that, when the opportunity to meet up with a few other former members of the cult comes up, you go, if only to be around others who are struggling with the same things. As the story goes a long, the characters are developed, mostly Tom Duncan, but also a few of the other remaining people. It was interesting to read a very non-sensationalized version of the life in the cult and how Tom survived day to day afterwards, under the weight of his memories. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but it was interesting. And there are some other very surprising moments that pop up that I don't want to refer to so as not to ruin the reading for others. Needless to say, if you enjoy all those true crime podcasts, have any interest in cults, or like books with a strong character development, this will be one you will enjoy.

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A tightly written cult survivor story with a pleasing amount of ambiguity. Many will pick this up because of the subject matter but honestly the cult frame isn't necessarily required - it's a family/found family/guilt/media sort of jam, most importantly.

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The title and cover caught my eye, then I read the description and was intrigued. It took me a while to get used to the writing layout, but once I got my head around it was in interesting story and I'm very relieved that it's fiction even though it reads like a non-fiction. I enjoyed the whole experience and look forward to future books in this style.

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This book will pull you in and you won't want to put it down until the end (maybe not even then). Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult hit all my marks: mystery, death, cults, and faux mixed-media (what's the word for that) with Netflix transcripts interspersed throughout the book. I really enjoyed the tone of the book as well, more than anything it felt real. The world is a lot of ups and downs, but trauma is filled with a lot of greys and that's exactly how I would explain this book. It's grey, honest, and complex.

4/5 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Excellent story! Totally engrossing!. Looking forward to reading more by this author! Could not put this down!

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Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord tells of a man who survived a mass suicide of cult he belonged to, only to be vilified by a documentary maker as the murder. Mr. McCord is a published author, this is his first novel.

Tom Duncan was the sole survivor of the largest cult mass suicide in the United States. Slowly Tom tries to rebuild his life, and get to know his daughter and granddaughter.

However, Tom cannot get the anonymity he wants. A Netflix documentary claiming that Tom’s survival wasn’t an accident, but that he’s responsible

Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord was a very well written drama. The author tells two styles of stories, that of Tom Duncan, and an emotionally manipulative documentary.

The uniqueness of this story is that it tells of primarily of survival. There are many stories, non-fiction as well as fiction, which tell of cults, and ask poignant questions.

Why do people join?
What makes them give up their previous lives?
What prompts them to kill themselves?
And, of course, the deep belief in one claiming to be a prophet.

The aftermath, however, could be even more cruel than ending it all. This is especially true when a smear documentary is made about you.

Another interesting aspect of the book is they way the author described how the cult got popular. Tom was one of the first people to join, so we got to view through his eyes the beginning of it all.

There were several interesting characters in the book, most of them were former cult members. I didn’t care that the author used their “cult name” throughout. I just thought it was a weird choice, especially since they are trying to move on.

The novel uses the narrative to tackle grief, not only for Tom, but also the rest of the ex-cultists. Tom, being America’s most hated man thanks to the documentary is, surprisingly, not had the most difficult time.

I do know what it’s like to be a part of a community, and then to leave. It is a difficult thing and a feeling one wants to get back, if possible. This novel, above all, captures that feeling at times.

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A very interesting take on the endlessly fascinating subject of cults and their strange inner workings. While I liked that we got a deeper look at those in the cult's periphery (survivors, deserters, neighbors, etc.), I wish we'd gotten a bit more depth when it came to the cult itself.

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I love a good cult story,and this book puts a new spin on it,
In Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult there is one sole survivor from a mass suicide.
The story doesn't go too much into detail of the cult itself, rather the aftermath of those left behind but not just the lone survivor. We meet people who had left the cult and those from the town the cult lived in.
Some really interesting things in here. Great fast easy read.
This new angle on a fascinating subject really made this story interesting to read.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review..

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I really enjoyed the format of this book! One of my favorite parts is that the story is written with sections from Tom's perspective and then, opposite that, there are clips from the Netflix documentary. This is another book that I think is already written to make itself into a very interesting TV show or movie.
Well done!

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My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to review. I love anything that centres around cults. They've always fascinated me and I did enjoy this book.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for the digital galley of this book.

When a hit, true crime Netflix documentary accuses Tom Duncan of murder, the sole survivor of the Good Weather Cult mass suicide must reckon with his past as he struggles to rebuild his life, his relationship with his daughter and granddaughter. A former member who left before the ritual invites the remaining members (herself and another member who left before the ritual, Tom, and the son of a deceased member), and Tom doesn’t want to g, but he can’t resist the draw of the only people who understand, and the possibility of redemption, at least in their eyes.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting, though I’m not sure what I expected. Honestly, I saw the word cult and hit that request button, because welp, I like cults. Scratch that. I’m fascinated by cults. This book was way more depressing, devastating, and heart warming than I predicted. Usually I go for weird/horrorish cult stories where weird things happen to the survivors, but that’s not what I got here.

This is a brutal look at what losing everyone you lived with, loved, and built community with, grappling with that loss, and enduring the survivor’s guilt and accusations that come with that burden. I got teary eyed once or twice, and I really wanted these characters to find some healing at the end of their harrowing journey. It’s worth a read, but maybe chase it with something light.

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