The Rapture is a novel about a real life English religious cult and how one deeply entwined member finds something outside of what she knows. Dilys is a member of the Panacea Society, a group of mostly single women who lives across a number of houses in Bedford under the direction of their zealous leader, Octavia. When Dilys meets Grace, a new recruit to the society, it feels as if God has brought them together. As the society prepares for the moment of their salvation, and Dilys’ feelings for Grace deepen, Dilys must attempt to find the truth and protect herself from the others and her own mind.
McGlasson combines real documents and people with a fictional narrative that is gripping and powerful. The world and Dilys’ thoughts are immersive, and the reader into brought into the society as Grace is, seeing the message and slowly behind the veneer. Much of the tension is around Dilys’ personal struggles, but also a lingering sense of what the society might do next, as Octavia’s right hand woman Emily gains more power. Everything comes together in a satisfying way, but also leaving enough ambiguity as Dilys’ point of view can be unreliable.
This is a novel that takes a fascinating and little known bit of history and turns it into a moving story of finding yourself and finding love whilst fighting against all you know. The fact that a story like this is taken from historical fact and documents and happened in Bedford gives it an additional dimension, showing the reality of closed off zealotry and the line between faith and delusion.