The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn
Kuehn is definitely a
brilliant writer, maybe more so than some of the big psychological
writers that are popping up right now. Her writing is quiet and her
characters are frantic, unreliable, and induced with panic that leaves
the pace to fill all over the place when there is nothing happening. I
love cult novels; I find them incredibly fascinating and I’ve always
wondered what drives people into the arms of another individual who
offers promise, safety, and acceptance away from our world. Kuehn
quietly shows us exactly how this process occurs. The novel opens up
with a second (but also switches to third?) person POV- this person
feels disjointed, cruel, manipulative, calculating- it’s incredibly
unsettling how he targets those around them in continuous chapters to
submit to his ideals and sway. It’s creepy and incredibly well done
(especially after the last chapter). Speaking of the last chapter- what
the actual fuck? How brilliant was that?! Arman
being the calculating recruit. It’s incredibly interesting to see his
transformation from frantic, unstable child to persuasive leader and
recruit of an occult community. Absolutely fascinating and it’s probably
why I like this novel so much!
Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75
is a very overwhelming character to read about. He’s being sucked into
this web. We learn only what Arman is aware of and he knows nothing then
we know nothing. There’s nothing to like about Arman, he’s an underdog
because he essentially ruins situations for himself and it’s incredibly
sad to see how much of a lost soul he is. Until the very end, because
like what the actual fuck? Biggest character development plot twist and
it was happening the whole time.
"It's a philosophical
principle that states an immoral act can sometimes be considered moral
if the greater good outweighs the smaller evil."
also a lot of characters Kira and Dale (two outsiders who Arman travels
with into the compound), the cook (whose name we learn at the end) that
needs to have sex with Arman all the time, Dr. Gary, Daniel, and Mari
(who all play intricate parts to the compound and its secrets, and Beau-
who is the leader of the compound and is a presence even when he isn’t
around. I also called that Beau was grooming Arman for something!
Character Scale: 4.5
honestly have no clue exactly what happened in this novel, but I think
that’s the strong defining factor of this book. I’m definitely
recommending it to anyone who loves psychological thrillers, cults, and
crazy characters because this book is jammed with these things.
Plotastic Scale: 4.25
Thoughts: Is this a chameleon? If so, damn this cover is symbolic.
Chameleons blend to match those around them and the recruiters of these
cults blend in to appeal to everyday people and then transition into
their cult presence at the compounds. Awesome cover!
Thank you, First Reads, Penguin, and Dutton for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review!
Have you read The Smaller Evil? If so what do think about it or do you plan to read it? Let me know down below in the comments!