The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson (Allen and Unwin)
Ruby’s family is falling apart after a tragedy for which she blames herself. Grief-stricken and angry, she meets the unworldly Fox, an ethereal boy who has been brought up in a cult called the ‘Institute of the Boundless Sublime’. Through her growing friendship with Fox, Ruby is drawn into the Institute, the presence of ‘Daddy’, the charismatic leader of the cult, and the dangerous world he has created. As the novel progresses, in attempting to regain the agency she has surrendered to Daddy, Ruby finds herself cornered. The sense of dread grows as the reader is drawn into her increasingly desperate plans not only to escape but also to rescue Fox and the others trapped within the Institute.
A frightening exploration of how hurt and lonely people get sucked into the dark orbit of narcissistic cult leaders, this exquisitely written novel is also a touching love story and a brilliant study of character, both of the protagonists and of the sinister ‘Daddy’. As well as being a gripping read, The Boundless Sublime is a thought-provoking examination of the impact of trauma upon identity, of the exercise of power and of the sometimes uncomfortable relationship between spirituality and belonging.