Eve's Covering

Young Adult - Thriller
566 Pages
Reviewed on 04/30/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Elsie (Yoder) McKenney was born in Idaho and raised in a little Mennonite community. When her family moved to northern Michigan, they became entangled in a cult. This, her debut novel, is based on that experience. Elsie studied creative writing at Ferris State University where she earned the Excellence in Language and Literature award. She is also a world traveler, artist, and has a penchant for all things purple. She does her best writing early in the morning by firelight. When she isn’t working on a novel, she can be found hiking through the woods, embroidering, or reading in a quiet nook. Elsie is the mother of two adult children and Mimi of multiple grandchildren. She resides in northern Michigan with her husband and soulmate, David, and their cheeky cavalier spaniel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Eve's Covering by Elsie McKenney is a young adult mystery. Eve's cousin, Alice, dies under mysterious circumstances, but no one will take Eve's concerns seriously, least of all the police. When her family is drawn into a religious cult, Eve finds it hard to accept their ideas and the people who want control over her life, and she rebels against it all. Following threats to her family, Eve joins the cult's mission, a Soviet Union orphanage. Except that isn't the real mission. Eve stumbles over the cult's sinister secrets and decides to rescue her friends who have all been gradually disappearing. But she knows too much and it's all over for everyone if the cult leaders catch her. Can Eve save the day and bring down the cult?

Eve's Covering by Elsie McKenney is based on the author's personal experiences and may be disturbing to some people. It is a unique story with a strong plot and an even stronger female lead, a character who will immediately get inside your heart and mind. The writing is intriguing, drawing you in and making you want to keep reading without stopping. The twists and turns and heart-thumping action will keep you guessing and the subplot just adds more mystery to an already fantastic story. The other characters are just as well defined as Eve, and each plays their part in the ploy. This is a gripping tale suited to all ages of readers, not just young adults, and the fact it is based on real life and touches on very real subjects makes it a must-read book. I look forward to reading more from Elsie McKenney.

Jamie Michele

Eve's Covering by Elsie McKenney is a supernatural Christian novel that revolves around a young woman named Eve whose Mennonite family is systemically lured into a cult by a man named Simon Blackwell and his wife Marigold, who claim to have the gift of prophecy and the ability to miraculously heal. Eve comes face to face with both Simon, who is nefarious from the start, and Devon, who becomes Eve's love interest. Eve's cousin Alice mysteriously disappears, reappearing as an apparition and providing insight and clues about the connection between young women vanishing and the control Simon is able to retain. As things begin to spiral out of control and Eve is surrounded by Simon and Marigold's poison, she begins to understand the methods Simon employs to exert control and the lengths he is willing to go to retain power.

I understand from what the author Elsie McKenney shares at the beginning of Eve's Covering that she found herself in a life that inspired the character of Eve, and if that is actually the case, it's terrifying to imagine. It also changes how I view the way it is written because it somehow makes the book feel more personal. From a literary standpoint, the writing isn't as refined as many readers, myself included, would expect from a novel this length and with this serious theme. Eve can be infuriatingly immature as she pines after a guy and forgets about a girl who literally has 'Help' written on her hand. Still, the setting is decades past and because we are brought into a community that has access to mod-cons and information but still remains incredibly insular, we can accept that Eve is the product of an upbringing that most of us will never fully know, let alone fully understand. Overall, this story which is based on the real life of McKenney is engrossing because of the courage required to share it and a plot driver that is wholly unique. Recommended.

Asher Syed

The metaphysical elements of Christian fiction and a deep dive into the manipulation of a cult leader form the backbone of the young adult novel Eve's Covering by Elsie McKenney. The story takes place as teenager Eve crosses the threshold into adulthood, becoming a woman whose agency is restricted by Simon and Marigold Blackwell, a cult power couple who have enveloped Eve's Mennonite family into their influential fold. Their domination is inflicted on everything in Eve's life, down to who is a suitable partner for her in matrimony. All this falls alongside young women who are suddenly and inexplicably absent, a book of their names next to a series of numbers, the discovery of a forbidden gun cabinet and a puzzling photo, healings that are not what they seem, and a dungeon basement that leads Eve to a discovery too horrible to comprehend.

Elsie McKenney compiles an ambitious number of plots and subplots in her telling of the based-on-real-life Eve's Covering. The Blackwells are initially reminiscent of cult leaders that true crime readers will recognize, exploiting faith to achieve outright domination, but do transform into overt and openly sinister individuals and one could visualize Simon standing in a corner twirling his mustache if he had one. The prose is very simple so the story is easy to follow. I envisioned there would be loads more depictions of Mennonite life, culture, and organizational structure than there are. Anabaptist communities are so varied and intriguing, although the advantage of not having it thread through every fiber of Eve's being makes her arc one that can apply to any woman of any faith under any circumstance. I can see Eve's Covering being voraciously gobbled up by mature teenagers and young adult readers who like femme protagonists that come of age later than most.

Viga Boland

When you hear the word “cult,” what immediately springs to mind? Charles Manson and his Heaven's Gate followers? Jim Jones and the Branch Davidians? Perhaps you think of that cult in which Joachim Phoenix grew up i.e. The Children of God? Whatever group comes to mind, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the worst when it comes to cults, and yet, according to the dictionary, a cult is “a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.” By that simple definition, any of us who follow an organized religion are members of a cult. Most of us are born into some religion, but the sinister part of cults like those mentioned above and such as Elsie McKenney describes in her semi-fictional novel, Eve’s Covering, are the ones that make headlines and make us shudder.

Eve, the protagonist of Eve’s Covering, seems to be the only member of her family who isn’t seduced by Mr. Blackwell and his wife, Marigold. Her mother and father welcome them into their home and are awestruck by their "spirituality” and ability to connect with higher powers. The more Eve and her sweetheart, Devon, learn about the Blackwells, the more suspicious they become of their motivations, especially when the young women the Blackwells hire as nannies for their children start disappearing. Just who are the Blackwells, and what are they up to? Eve is a good girl who respects her parents and their wishes, but she has an innate sense that tells her something is terribly wrong. She is right, but what she and Devon discover is far more sinister than this self-appointed guru who is so skilled at convincing adults that he has some direct pipeline to God.

Based on Elsie McKenney’s own experiences of being involved in a cult, and despite its length, Eve’s Covering will keep curious young adult readers enthralled. The author’s writing style is relatively fast-paced with plenty of dialogue. The plot events and the characters keep readers in suspense. But what will appeal perhaps even more to the young adult audience is how well McKenney knows today’s teenagers: they are interested in the supernatural, ghosts, and young romance with all its chaotic emotions, and the author incorporates plenty of all three. At the same time, her novel has the all-important message of caution for both teens and adults: if something doesn’t feel right, trust your intuition because what you see might be far from what it is.

Stephanie Chapman

In Eve’s Covering, author Elsie McKenney describes Eve’s struggle to discover the circumstances of her best friend’s disappearance. Alice had written a letter stating that she would be present for the Fourth of July event; however, Eve was disappointed when Alice didn’t show. Eve is seeking employment so she can keep her horse. A black car passes by and Eve sees the words “HELP ME” on a girl’s hand. Eve follows the car to an inn where the passengers exit and a little girl drops a doll. Eve recognizes Alice's charm on the doll. She approaches Mr. Blackwell with the doll and asks about Alice. Despite his dismissal of her, Eve is about to learn a lot more about the self-proclaimed prophet when he finagles his way into her home.

I was astonished at how easy it was for the Blackwells to convince Eve’s family to follow them. Elsie McKenney incorporated several supporting characters to establish the influence the Blackwells had over the entire town. Eve and her love interest, Devon, are suspicious of Mr. Blackwell. I felt that the Blackwell family was communicating with evil spirits to terrorize Eve. I was shocked when Eve turned her back on the people she trusted. I could understand why she felt confused about her circumstances, especially when her parents became devout followers. The transitioning scenes and timeline of this book were easy to follow. The vivid details of everything that Eve experienced made it relatable. I couldn’t put this book down until the end with the amount of suspense in the unpredictable storyline. I recommend Eve’s Covering to readers who like realistic stories about escaping the strong influence of the occult.