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The Other Side of Darkness [Kindle Edition]

Melody Carlson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Once again, I have kept the demons at bay.

As a wife and mother, Ruth knows her prayers are crucial to her family’s spiritual welfare. She stands between her precious children and the evil one, doing battle in prayer. She can’t afford to be careless. Thankfully, she has powerful allies: Pastor Glenn, New Life Christian School where her daughters Mary and Sarah attend, and the inner circle at Arbor Drive Fellowship. They all reinforce her careful nurturance of her children.

If only her husband, Rick, understood that. He’s exasperated about the money Ruth keeps spending for the church and school. Doesn’t he see that these are their best defenses in shielding their children from the dangers of the world?

But the forces that threaten Ruth’s faith, her family–her very life–are not the ones she expects. Ruth doesn’t realize that her heartfelt desire to obey God is mingled with dangerous currents of OCD–Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her own strategies for protecting her family may be the very thing that tears them apart.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Best-selling author Melody Carlson has written more than two hundred books for children, teens, and adults, including On This Day, Finding Alice, and several series: Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor, TrueColors, and Notes from a Spinning Planet. Melody has two grown sons and lives in central Oregon with her husband, where they enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping, biking, and hanging out with their chocolate lab.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


That’s not good enough.”

I scratch the mosquito bite on the back of my arm and adjust my thick-lens glasses to look up at my mom. Her eyes feel like two sharp prongs probing right into my forehead–as if she can read my thoughts. And maybe she can.

“Why not?” I say quietly, then glance away, wishing I’d kept quiet.

“Look at that carpet.” Her index finger points down like an arrow at the new orange shag carpeting that goes wall to wall in our small, wood-paneled family room.

I look but see nothing other than carpet. Still, I know better than to state this as fact.

“Pull the vacuum back and forth in straight lines. Back and forth, back and forth, like this.” She uses her hands to show me, as if I don’t fully understand the concept of back and forth.

I stand with my shoulders hunched forward, staring dumbly down at the sea of orange at my feet.

“If you did it right, Ruth, I would see neat, even rows about six inches wide. Now, start in the corner by the fireplace, and do it again.”

I frown and, although I know it’s not only futile but stupid, say, “But it’s clean, Mom. I vacuumed everything in here. The carpet is already clean.

The family room becomes very quiet now. With the Hoover off, I can hear the sounds of kids playing outside, enjoying their Saturday freedom like normal ten-year-olds, not that I mistake myself for normal. And then I hear the familiar hissing sound of my mother as she blows air like a jet stream through her nostrils.

“Ruth Anne!”
She bends down and peers at me, those flaming blue eyes just inches from my own. “Are you talking back to me?”

I glance down at my faded blue Keds and mutely shake my head. I do not want to be slapped. Without looking at her, I turn the vacuum cleaner on again and drag its bulky, cavernous body over to the wall by the fireplace next to the big picture window, although I don’t look out. I don’t want to see my friends playing. Even worse, I don’t want them to see me.

As I vacuum the rug all over again, I try not to think about my older sister, Lynette, the pretty one. I try not to imagine her at her ballet lesson just now, looking sleek and lovely in her black leotard and tights, doing a graceful arabesque with one hand on the barre, glimpsing her long straight back in the gleaming mirror behind her.

“You are not made for ballet,” my mother had told me two years ago when I pleaded with her for lessons. “You’re much too stout, and your arms and legs are too short and stubby. You take after your father’s side of the family.”

And I can’t disagree with her when I examine myself in the bathroom mirror. With my dark hair of untamable curls and these muddy brown eyes, I definitely do not look like I belong in this particular family of blue-eyed, long-limbed blonds. Well, my mother isn’t a true blonde. She helps it out with her monthly bottle of Lady Clairol, although no one is allowed to mention this fact, ever, and she takes care to purchase her “contraband” in a drugstore in the neighboring town where no one knows her. But she lets it be known that Lynette and my little brother, Jonathan, both get their silky blond locks from her side of the family–a respectable mix of English and Scandinavian.

Jonathan is four years younger than I am, but unlike me, he is not an accident. Plus he is a much-wanted boy, named after my father, Jonathan Francis Reynolds. Once while playing hide-and-seek at church, I was hiding behind the drapes in the fellowship room when I overheard my mother talking to a lady friend. The other woman commented on how Lynette and I look nothing alike. “Oh, Ruth wasn’t planned, you know,” my mother said in a hushed tone, causing my ears to perk up and actually listen for a change. “Good grief. My little Lynette was still in diapers, and suddenly I was pregnant again! Can you imagine? Well, I was completely devastated by the–”

Just then Jonathan raced over and threw himself around my mother’s knees, complaining that he’d been left out of the childish game.

“Now, this one”–my mother spoke with pride as she ruffled his pale hair–“he was no mistake.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 830 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books (November 24, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004BLK7OI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,711 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Cults are so easy to get into!! October 5, 2008
Hold on to your heart when you read this gut-wrenching real situation in which Melody Carlson describes how someone could easily find themselves in a cult. I think the circumstances of this situation makes it scary and real when you see how the little things that grab the main character Ruth at first. It's the little things - like words said, things prayed about that prick her spirit and weigh heavy on her heart. But she brushes them off as nonsense in the beginning, when she finds herself in the middle of a church split. She's confused about what to do.

It's not something that Ruth intentionally seeks out to be a part of; "they" draw her into one of the churches that split. Ruth likes Pastor Glenn, who left and went to start his own church. The members that stay behind try to warn Ruth of Pastor Glenn's questionable behavior. 'Things aren't what they appear to be', they tell her. But Cynthia, the new church secretary, starts befriending Ruth. Cynthia has answers to the accusations and starts grooming Ruth for a good position in the new church. They "need" Ruth - and her money.
Oh, it's not said like that; it's more subtle. They start building Ruth up by telling her she was made for this position, and Ruth likes the attention and responsibility.

Pastor Glenn's assistant and worship leader at the new church, Bronte, heads up the prayer meeting where Ruth discovers some pretty disturbing things from her past - things she doesn't remember but the "new" church members tell her she has experienced. "Ruth you just have to trust God" they tell her. Fellow members of the new church set out to train Ruth to do 'Spiritual Warfare' to fight the enemy. It's the only way the demons will leave her and her family alone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
As a person who belonged to a cult for twelve years, this is a story that must be told.

My church and situation were different and for years after I left it I could not see that it was really a cult.

But just as the situation in THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS, the church members were considered more important than family. I left the church I was born and raised in to follow "The One True Church."

When my husband tried to keep me home, I left him and my children "For God." After all, I must obey God rather than man.

Our family got back together on the promise that my husband would not keep me from my church.

After twelve years the Lord brought me out of that church and back under the spiritual leadership of my husband.

The Other Side Of Darkness is a novel that serves as a warning.

Do your church leaders lead and keep you in the church by fear? Do they talk down other churches? And your other family members and friends?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Revealing issues surrounding being drawn into cults November 3, 2008
I read with intensity the story of Ruth and her family. Dealing with low-self esteem issues, Ruth is drawn into the "church" and doesn't realize that Cynthia and the pastor is pulling her into the inner circle more and more. I agree that the reality of a cult is very well defined in this story. Melody Carlson did an excellent job and the accuracy and dangers that we can face in today's society.

Yet, I felt that the story went on and on. I realize that the drama of the story had to be portrayed, yet the big picture was given well into half of the book. I would have liked to read more about the recovery and how Ruth realized that she was sucked into the drama of the church. That Ruth would realize that God loves her as she is and that she doesn't have to be part of a cult to receive his grace and mercy. That would have put a positive end to the story. I'm sure that there are some cult stories that are not positive in the end, but the book dragged for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 10 pages at the end ties it up? March 26, 2013
In looking for a new Christian author, I stumbled on this book at the library. While the subject matter was interesting for the first hundred pages or so, the story went on and on and became ridiculously cliche' with no move toward resolution. Then in the last 10 pages, the main character 'figures it all out' and the story ends. SO frustrating as a reader, would not recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very intense July 27, 2011
This book is not easy or pleasant to read. It's a painfully realistic look at how the neurobiological disorder OCD can interact with a particular social context to create some truly bizarre and dangerous behaviors. The story is at times almost too intense, and the ending is a bit rushed. I would have liked to read more about the recovery period. But congratulations to Melody Carlson for tackling such a difficult issue as mental illness in the church!
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More About the Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at

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