Bibliophile | Terrible secrets lurk ‘Deep In The Forest’

Deep in the Forest
by Erina Reddan
Pantera Press

Walkley award-winning journalist Erina Reddan always thought she had a fairly ordinary childhood until she started to write a book about a woman who discovered terrible secrets about The Sanctuary, a neighbouring closed community. Reddan then realised that she had grown up in a kind of cult.

Living in an isolated farm in a Catholic community, there were rules about what you ate and when, and she never interacted with anyone who wasn’t Catholic. It wasn’t until the Royal Commission identified paedophilia in a nearby town that she realised how harmful it was to give a priest the authority of God.

In her novel, The Sanctuary is a closed community deep in the forest, on a lake many miles from Melbourne. It is ostensibly a drug rehabilitation retreat for people seeking a sense of belonging and acceptance. But why is it that many of these people never leave once they are there and they cut off all contact with their families?

Charli Trenthan lives next door to The Sanctuary. Her mother had been killed by a hit-and-run driver the previous year and now she has been accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She was planning to leave the town when she received a desperate cry for help from one of the inhabitants of The Sanctuary.

Charli was actually working on a book for The Sanctuary that was due to be completed in two weeks. Then it was off to Venice to further her work as a fine book specialist. Discovering a dead baby in the lake brought back all the grief of her mother dying and also made her the centre of yet another crime investigation.

Trying to prove her innocence means uncovering what is really happening behind the walls of The Sanctuary and that now becomes Charli’s priority. There is evil and coercive use of power both in the closed community and in the nearby town, and Charli has to not only unearth it, but get people to believe her.

Lezly Herbert

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