Finished Merciless III: Origins of Evil by Danielle Vega.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“Brooklyn knows that there’s no good without evil, no right without wrong. And when a helpless girl calls her teen helpline, whispering that someone is hurting her, Brooklyn knows that she needs to save her anonymous caller, even if it means doing something bad.
Her parents and friends assure her the call was probably a prank but Brooklyn has always had a tendency to take over, whether someone has asked for help or not.
She discovers the call came from Christ First Church and finds herself plunged into the cultish community of its youth group. She’s especially drawn to Gavin, the angelic yet tortured pastor’s son.
Torn between an unstoppable attraction to Gavin and her obsession with the truth, Brooklyn is forced to make a devastating choice to rid Christ Church of evil once and for all. . . . But the devil has plans for Brooklyn’s soul.”
This is a slow burn of a horror story. Yes, it’s creepy pretty much the whole way through, but once we realize what’s going on with the pastor of that church, the tension ramps way up. And then the aftermath…
I think one of the things that Danielle Vega does really well is set an eerie tone and then slowly ratchet up the tension until you realize that you’ve gone several paragraphs without breathing.
If you’re at all squeamish or not a fan of horror, this book is not for you. Don’t even try; it’s not for you.
I’m not sure this origin story was strictly necessary, but it’s still nice to have. More than anything, though, I’m just ready for the fourth book.