This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel is a jarring cult thriller. Natalie and Kit haven’t spoken in months, but Natalie receives a concerning call and tries to mend that.
Welcome to Wisewood. Where we keep your secrets, if you keep ours.
Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.
The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.
And then she found Wisewood.
On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world—no Internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.
Six months later Natalie receives a menacing e-mail from a Wisewood account threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
“THE WORLD’S GONE MAD. People always say that. On the contrary, we’re much too sane.”
This book surprised me with how interesting and fast-paced it was. I was worried that it would quickly become a contemporary-based story around cults, but then we got into the chapters about Teacher, and I had a physical reaction. The details in this story are gritty and horrifying. Yet, it’s the backstory that truly would create the ultimate recipe for a toxic wellness-based cult.
“You’re a tidal wave, Kit, and you don’t even know it.”
I found our main character in the first half incredibly boring. Her motivations are selfish, and her desires are half-developed at best. Even still, when we switch over to the second half, and the plot begins to develop, she continues to fall flat personality-wise. She is not nearly as interesting as her sister- which turns out to be, more or less, the point. Yet, I found myself wanting more from this story than I got, despite enjoying it thoroughly. Perhaps if our main character was a bit more interesting, to begin with, this story would be a more rounded one.
“Nobody cared about the pawns. They were too busy watching the queen.”
Despite those criticisms, this book was incredibly hard to put down. I enjoyed the cult concept and how those things can easily grow. Wrobel does a great job of managing mental health in a way that doesn’t necessarily feel like a cop-out of a twist. This story had all the elements of a great thriller, and the author truly used them in a fantastic way.
“Quiet sinners get a lot further than loud ones.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.