This is the story of Provost Fochs, a highly regarded member of the Bloodites, a religion that seems to have a lot in common with Mormonism (the author is a former Mormon). The good provost is beginning to visit a therapist at the insistence of his wife, as he's having some peculiar behaviors during the night: talking of terrible things in a voice not his own, unexplained violence towards her.
The therapist is also a member of the church, but the more time he spends with Fochs, the more disturbed he becomes at what he suspects is going on, to the point where he defies the church's leadership when they want him to pursue a different line of questioning. Whether what's going on is an issue of mental illness or the supernatural is left up to the reader to decide.
But what's made very, very clear is that the Bloodites, a patriarchal, conservative religion, are willing to do just about anything to cover up the sins of one of their own. If that means casting aspersions on people who raise questions (or threaten bad publicity), they won't hesitate.
Does this sound like anything we've heard on the news over the past few decades?
This is not a book for everyone. It's deeply, deeply unnerving and disturbing. At the very least, understand that children are assaulted and worse. But what makes it truly hellish is Evenson's balance of the is-it-supernatural with the all-too-realistic views of a church refusing to acknowledge the sins of its leaders, while letting innocent children continue to be harmed. I would say this: It's not a book I'd read again, but you can bet I'll seek out more of Evenson's work next October.