A boy, his father and a train set. This is the heart of Children of the Folded Valley, for me at least, because when I read this book, that is what spoke to me. Trains. But of course there was much more to it.
Something just draws me into books about religion, regardless of what religion it is. But it’s not so much the doctrine itself as it is the effect said doctrine has on its adherents, as well as the effect of the people on each other and the culture at large.
Now when it comes to a cult, the consequences are all the more intriguing. Some time back I read Leah Remini’s personal account of Scientology, which was both funny (I just love her!) and disturbing at the same time. One of the things that makes a cult a cult is that you can’t leave, and if you do, you are either excommunicated or killed, depending on the particular rules of whatever dictator is in charge. Because of this, as I read Children of the Folded Valley by Simon Dillon, I kept thinking back to Leah Remini’s book. There were obvious differences, but those cultish traits were there.
Children of the Folded Valley is a sci-fi book, which is not my genre. However, while I’m not a sci-fi fan, I had heard that this book was about a cult, and that’s what attracted me to it. I had read another book by the same author called, Love vs. Honour, recommended to me because like my own The Religion of the Heart, it’s an interfaith love story. But this book is more well-known, leading me to believe this was the one to read. That certainly turned out to be the case.
I absolutely loved this book. The sci-fi aspect of it doesn’t really show up into you’re fully engrossed in the story, and so what appealed to me was the demonstration of how perfectly intelligent people are fooled into following a cult, how cult leaders use their psychological powers to maintain control, and how free-thinking people in any society will always fight against what is wrong and immoral.
But more than anything, it was the father/son story that got me. The trains. Those precious trains.