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The Still Small Voice


Loved it! 😍

An engaging and exciting read that examines life in an LDS community from the point of view of an outcast daughter.

Madison Moore grew up in an LDS community in Utah, but she has been the black sheep of the family since she left for college. She has built a new life for herself with a new family, but when she learns that her father is dying and wants to see her, she has no choice but to go back. Forty years ago, a sixteen-year-old girl was killed in a fall, and another was imprisoned for her murder. Madison’s father reveals that he knows the prisoner is not guilty, and it’s his deathbed wish for his outcast daughter to investigate and make it right. Madison is going to discover though that the old crime is still very much present in this close and secretive community.


As a Brit, I don’t have any personal experience with LDS communities and the fictional portrayals of this way of life are often more sensational than believable. Stanley in contrast offers what seems to be a realistic and grounded view of the challenges in growing up in such deeply religious settings, where the rules are very different from those of the surrounding secular world. It’s not an uncritical portrayal by any means but it feels like an informed one and makes fascinating reading.


Madison’s search for the truth about the 1981 murder is paralleled by the gradual revelation to the readers of the real reason why she became a pariah to her own family. It is of course very much in character for Madison’s family to avoid talking about what she did to deserve being cast out. The general air of ‘you know what you did’ allows Stanley to build tension without seeming to withhold details artificially: a trick that eludes mainstream writers surprisingly often.


The final twist in the story of how Madison had to leave her family comes only at the very end and casts all the connections between her story and that of the 1981 murder in a new light. It is difficult to discuss here without spoilers, but I did wonder if keeping this particular secret from the reader was the right decision. If we had known this about Madison sooner, it would have enabled Stanley to reflect on changes for LDS young people between the 1980s and the 2000s. It may be, of course, that the expectations on those young people haven’t changed, but that in itself would have been worth exploring, given the significant shifts in social attitudes in the world outside. As it was, I felt a little cheated by the authorial slight of hand.


Despite this, The Still Small Voice was an engaging and exciting read that I would whole-heartedly recommend.

Reviewed by

Elaine Graham-Leigh is an activist, historian and qualified accountant (because even radical movements need someone doing the books). Her science fiction novel, The Caduca, is out now and her stories have appeared in various zines. She lives in north London.


About the author

Brenda Stanley is a writer and journalist with the NBC TV affiliate in Idaho. Brenda is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins and a grandmother of eight. She and her veterinarian husband, Dave, live on a small ranch in Blackfoot, Idaho. view profile

Published on November 14, 2022

Published by Untreed Reads

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Women's Fiction

Reviewed by