Friday, March 29, 2019


WEDLOCK by Denis Wright (One Tree House, 2018)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

Lucy Sorrenson is the only grown-up at her place, in her opinion. Her father acts like a teenage muso. Her grandad’s grasp on reality is slipping away and she’s sick of the responsibility of looking after them.

She wants to be in the school play, go to the cast parties, have fun with her friends. But on opening night she is called to the stage door. No one would believe the role she now has to play.

She has been chosen to save the world.

“My name is Charity, Sister Charity. We are members of a religious family and we’ve been observing you for months, my child. You are identical to the young woman in the Master’s visions. You have passed all the tests and are known to us as The Maiden, the chosen vessel for the seed of our Master.”

“The…the seed of the WHAT?”

Lucy has a mixed life: she is more-or-less the only capable adult (at age 15) in her family, living with her ageing-rocker Dad and ex-prize-fighter Grandfather, who is living with Parkinson’s. She has some mates and manages to negotiate the bullies and avoid the lecherous older boys and teachers.  But one day her life takes a massive veer off course, when she is abducted into a cult.

WEDLOCK is the story of how Lucy survives the horrible experience of being abducted and held as “The Maiden”, the chosen one who will marry the cult-leader Isaiah and breed a child who will save the world. At the beginning, that sounds as wacky to Lucy as it does to the reader, but slowly things change, and her anger gets larger and larger amounts of wanting to submit mixed in, until it is the outside world that doesn’t make any sense, and it is in the cult where she feels safe.

Lucy is an interesting character, since her mother’s death five years prior, she has been the backbone of her family, and when she occasionally gets away to stay with an Aunt, she enjoys not feeling that responsibility, but she also feels stifled. She is a very sensible 15-year-old, normally eschewing alcohol; deciding to sacrifice her own position to make peace with another girl who wants her role in the school play. She lives in a world where she is often the receiver of unwanted male attention; this not only makes her wary of men, it also makes her the source of jealousy for her peers.

Until the abduction, Lucy’s biggest concerns are whether her boy friend wants to move to being a boyfriend, whether her Grandfather can keep out of trouble and take his medication, whether her father and his cronies can get their band together in time for a revival tour, and whether she can get on with her Dad’s new partner. So, she is well used to tricky situations, and initially Lucy does everything she can think of to escape.

Lucy’s gradual transition to semi-submissive is well done – although there are occasions when you really do think she would have bolted for it, Stockholm Syndrome notwithstanding. The moment in the book when something happens to allow her to see the cult leader and one of his followers for the nutters they are is quite extreme, and a little bit unbelievable, as is the resolution of her predicament. But these criticisms aside, Wedlock is a good read, and does raise some interesting points about what a sane and safe society would look like; it’s not just in cults where men feel they are God’s gift!

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

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