Minor Prophets by Blair Hurley. Ig Publishing, 2023. 286 pages. $17.95, paperback. 

Minor Prophets, the exciting second novel of accomplished author Blair Hurley, is one of the best books I’ve read all year.  

The novel tells the story of Nora, the former child-mouthpiece of a Pentecostal, doomsday-prepping cult led by her father in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as she attempts to heal from the violence and trauma of the childhood she escaped by becoming a palliative care nurse in Chicago. Her tenuous sense of peace is threatened by the community she grew up in, which, upon her father’s mysterious death, tracks down Nora’s whereabouts and pushes her to return to their reclusive community to help usher in the end times, which she “foresaw” as a child under pressure from the community to speak in tongues as a vessel for God.  

Set alternatively between the backdrops of Northern Michigan’s serene and dangerous forests and the hustle and glitter of Chicago, the novel moves deftly through time, oscillating between Nora’s childhood and adulthood, which allows the reader to draw parallels between the gendered violence of the cult and of “the world,” as Nora calls secular society. This book is a thoughtful exploration of the complex, nonlinear deconstruction process of a former fundamentalist, and it doesn’t shy away from tough conversations surrounding motherhood, family desire, security, abuse, and love.  

Nora often stumbles throughout her healing process, and when she does, Hurley uses her character’s mistakes to build tension that left my heart racing, and to create resolutions that are simple and profound. In its aching tenderness toward child-Nora and a good chunk of her fellow other cult members, I found myself moved by the way Hurley confronted the humanity of Christian fundamentalists in a way that did not excuse their cruelty, but which critiqued with compassion.  

— Debbie Miszak (she/her), Mid-American Review