one-among-us-coverEleven-year-old Maggie Clarke is abducted from her loving family and thrust into the indescribably horrific and largely unknown underworld of human sex trafficking. In captivity, Maggie’s life turns into a nightmare most children couldn’t imagine. When Maggie isn’t being sold to clients, she focuses on caring for Seth, a young boy who was also abducted.

With the help of Detective Rae Harker, the Clarkes’ frantically search for their daughter. Haunted by his own demons, Detective Harker vows to find Maggie–dead or alive.

Years after Maggie is abducted, a strange man approaches her with a dangerous proposition and she risks everything to break free of the network of unsavory characters that control her. Not even she can know how far she will go to get even with the people who ruined her life.

An unforgettable story of courage and survival, One Among Us serves as an eye-opening reminder that horrible things can happen to anyone–it’s how people deal with their circumstances that matters.

Author: Paige Dearth
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Thriller
Number of Pages: 661
Purchase onAmazon

Hernández Novels Score: 4.5/5

First and foremost I want to thank Paige for gifting me a free copy of One Among Us. Paige was kind enough to share another one of her books after I reviewed Born Mobster and fell in love with her work. I also have to apologize because I was gifted the book in November 2016, three months ago. Unfortunately, a week after I began reading it, I was involved in a fatal car crash that killed the driver that hit me. I didn’t get back into reading and writing until recently, now that I’m much more recovered. Please check out Mud., a short story I wrote inspired by the car accident. Thank you Paige for allowing me to venture into another one of your emotional roller-coasters. I’m ready for the next one.

One Among Us is a truly harrowing story of a young child, Maggie, who is kidnapped from a mall and forced into the despicable world of human sex trafficking. We see, feel, and smell everything around Maggie, including her own thoughts and emotions. Paige is exceptional at painting the most cruel of pictures in as much imagery as possible, so that we as readers can truly experience what our victim and heroine is living through. Paige’s novels are not for those who cannot stomach the sadistic realities of the world we live in, as she grips us tightly and refuses to let go until we come out of this experience all the better for having read it. I have to admit that there were times when I simply could not go on reading, as the depravity and insanity of the vile characters we meet began to take its toll within me. A short emotional rest later, I would forge ahead – it’s impossible not to finish the story! This, however, is a strength of Paige’s work, not a weakness, as she ventures into a world that so few dare explore so that we may be better educated in the realities of such horrors. Human trafficking is real.

Maggie, like Tony Bruno in Born Mobster, is easy to love. I don’t have kids, but from page one up until the very end I felt as though she was mine and I needed to be sure she would find safety, love, and redemption while letting go of the horrors she endured. It is in this very essence that one of the strengths of One Among Us takes shape: we are taken through Maggie’s entire journey, from beginning to end. We see Maggie transform from a terrified, innocent little girl to a courageous, resilient young woman determined to break free of her chains, literal and figurative. Paige’s ability to create relatable, authentic characters sets the foundation for truly compelling story-telling. Even secondary characters, like little Seth whom Maggie takes care of as a mother, stand alone in their own merit as fully realized personalities. You will love some, you will utterly despise others, and you will root for Maggie from beginning to end as Paige pushes you through a transformative, meaningful experience.

Paige is a relentless author with a very specific, poignant point of view and a beautiful and powerful writing style. One Among Us has cemented her as one of my favorite authors and now I am eager to read the rest of her novels. Her work can be very triggering as the imagery of atrocious and brutal scenes can be mentally and emotionally exhausting and demanding. However, at the heart of One Among Us is a tale of tenacity, friendship, and relentless love in the darkest of places that it is hard not to be moved by the end of the story. It shook me to my core. It truly is fiction with meaning.

What I really liked about the book
 The story is multi-faceted and leaves nothing up in the air. Told in the third person, we dive deep into the minds of everyone affected by Maggie’s abduction. A chapter about Maggie’s cruel life is followed by a chapter about Maggie’s parents and their undying quest to find their daughter. It was important for me to know what was happening in the world while Maggie was enduring a very difficult time. I would have been left dissatisfied had I not known how Maggie’s parents were coping.
– The very real relationships between Maggie and all of the secondary characters are brilliantly told. Enter jealous child that is no longer protected because Maggie is now the boss’ favorite girl. Enter the youngest of all the children in captivity and his inability to understand he might never go back home. Enter the people who find ways to help these children. Paige does such a good job connecting all the dots in the story.
– As a huge fan of Born Mobster, I was happy to see Tony and Vincent be a part of Maggie’s survival story. I felt as though I was reunited with old friends.

What I really didn’t like about the book:
– There was one thing I absolutely disliked in the writing style of the story. There are many chapters that end either with a question or a mysterious foreshadowing of more terrible things to come. For example, “She was right. Her life was going to change. But not in the way she’d hoped,” or “How were they going to talk their way out of this one?” These are just two of dozens of examples. Endings like these completely took me out of the story because they robbed me of that bit of hope I felt every time I saw Maggie’s life becoming less wicked.
One Among Us was published before Born Mobster, so I have to assume Paige wrote it first. In Born Mobster we are told the story of Tony Bruno and his friends, one of them Vincent, and how they ended up in Philadelphia’s mafia. Here, Tony and Vincent are much older and take it upon themselves to help Maggie. My only problem was in their speech. Their accents are not yet fully realized the way they are in Born Mobster, so I was disappointed to hear them speak differently. However, this might just be my problem because I read the books out of order (though each story stands alone as is).

I strongly recommend One Among Us, and after reading two of Paige’s books, I also strongly recommend that you dive deep into her work. She is unafraid, determined, and will make you rethink your entire life through her stories. She simply presents the realities of the lives of many people today and we, as readers, are forced to share in the perspective of our own lives. Prepare yourself, though. Just when you think Paige has set up the perfect victory, she’ll toss you into a corner and make you crush your skull against a wall. She is not afraid to throw gut-wrenching twists and turns in her stories, making them that much more exciting and terrifying to read.

Paige, you have gained a fan for life. I look forward to following your work. Thank you for using your talent, and your magic, to bring light to issues very few people are willing to touch. You do it brilliantly.

Does One Among Us sound like something you want to read? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts, comments, questions, and suggestions below!

Headed to Amazon to purchase the rest of Paige’s work,