Children of the Sun
I loved this book, though it took me a while to read it. I began, appropriately enough, on a sunny beach in Tenerife - and finished it last night in cloudy London. As with the author's previous book, The Origins of Iris (shortlisted for The Polari Prize 2022), there's a lot to take in – different perspectives and timelines, several back stories and a Big Theme which challenges the reader to constantly question what they assume to be the truth.
Given that this is a story about a cult, the question of belief is all important. But really it's a book about human frailty, the nature of belief and the stories we tell ourselves in order to cope with life's many challenges.
The first character we meet, James, is running away from a traumatic event, consumed with grief and trying to make sense of this strange world he's been sent to investigate in his role as a reporter.
The next character, Root, is also running - their first chapter begins with the words "I running". But from what? And why do they speak in such a strange way? Then there's Eve, who's also on a mission, though all we know is that it involves a man called Sol, who's the leader of the cult at the heart of the story.
Lewis draws us into these various interlinking narratives with great skill, until we start to question everything we've been told. The final chapters took my breath away. Like her last book, it left me feeling deeply moved and somehow altered. And like Iris, it features a leading character who just happens to be gay. Definitely one I'll be reading again.