Spencer Schneider tells the story of his decades in School, “an esoteric school for inner development,” which was really just a cult.
I love reading about cults – they’re fascinating in a horrifying, often voyeuristic way. Schneider was writing about his own story, about a cult I’d never heard of – two points in this book’s favor. I was excited to learn about how people could go about their daily business in New York City whilst having their lives held in a chokehold by a cult leader the whole time.
For the most part, Manhattan Cult Story delivers. The author details his involvement with School from beginning to end, showing how he fell under its sway and how it pervaded every aspect of his life. The author does a good job of reducing the distance between the events and the reader, making the abuses that he and his friends suffered quite vivid.
However, I did think the pacing quite odd, as we jump forward quite a lot in the timeline – inevitable when we are covering over two decades, I suppose, but I did feel that some events got brushed over as a result. I also wished that the author could have talked more about how exactly the cult managed to stay hidden while exerting so much control over its followers – things like how him distancing himself from his family and old friends went unnoticed.
Overall, a good read with a compelling narrator.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.