Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult – Catherine Oxenberg

3 star

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 384
Release Date: August 7, 2018

In this heartbreaking and shocking exposé, one of Dynasty’s biggest stars lays bare a secretive organization that is holding her daughter hostage and details her mission to save her in this powerful depiction of a mother’s love and determination.

I am a mother whose child is being abused and exploited. And I am not alone.

In 2011, Catherine joined her daughter, India, at a leadership seminar for a new organization called NXIVM. Her twenty-year-old daughter was on the threshold of building a new company and they both thought this program might help her achieve her dream. But quickly, Catherine saw a sinister side to what appeared to be a self-help organization designed to help its clients become the best versions of themselves.

Catherine watched in horror as her daughter fell further and further down the rabbit hole, becoming brainwashed by the organization’s charismatic leader. Despite Catherine’s best efforts, India was drawn deeper into the cult, eventually joining a secret, elite “sorority” of women members who are ordered to maintain a restricted diet, recruit other women as “slaves,” and are branded with their leader’s initials.

In Captive, Catherine shares every parent’s worst nightmare, and the lengths that a mother will go to save her child. Featuring interviews with past members of NXIVM and experts in the field of cults, Oxenberg attempts to draw back the curtain on how these groups continue to lure in members. She relates her continuing journey to try to reach her daughter, to save her from what she believes is a dangerous, mind-controlling cult.

NXIVM, from my understanding, is a relatively new cult that hasn’t been completely dismantled and exposed. The only reason I learned about it was because of Allison Mack’s involvement. I was a huge Smallville fan when it was premiering, so I was disappointed to learn of her intimate involvement. I’ve always been interested in cults. How they work, their tactics, and how they identify and manipulate potential members. So when I learned about Oxenberg’s book, I knew I had to read it.

I mistakenly went into this book with different expectations than the book was so clearly touting. I was expecting the focus to be on Oxenberg’s daughter. However, Captive focuses on Oxenberg’s own personal struggles with the cult itself, loosing her daughter, and, finally, doing everything in her power to destroy it. With that being said, Captive focuses on Oxenberg’s journey rather than the inner workings of the cult and her daughter’s experience. This is apparent in the explanation of the cult and how it works. Had I not listening to the first two episodes of the CBC’s Uncover: Escaping NXIVM I would have been completely lost.

The writing within the book is horrible. The narrative is erratic as is jumps all other the place, even within a few paragraphs on the same page. Oxenberg goes on irrelevant tangents and name-drops a lot in some weird effort to demonstrate how connected and powerful she is. The best example is when she compares the cult to the Berlin Wall and how it eventually fell. A decent enough metaphor, but Oxenberg follows it up with information about how she has a piece of the wall as a souvenir because her husband was there and got her the piece.

Overall, Captive is an interesting enough look at NXIVM and compiles most of the information currently available since the trail is set for October 1, 2018, if I’m not mistaken. I’d honestly recommend listening to the CBC’s podcast over reading the book if you’re interesting in learning more about NXIVM.


Have you read Captive? What did you think? Have you heard of NXIVM before?

One thought on “Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult – Catherine Oxenberg

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