In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author and master storyteller Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost and causes madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming.
When Wynter Roth finally escapes from New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.
As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play: that the prophet they once idolized has been toying with the fate of mankind, and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter, herself.
Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness, from “the queen of psychological twists” (New York Times bestselling author Steena Holmes).
About the Author
Tosca Lee is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of The Progeny, Firstborn, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. She received her BA in English and International Relations from Smith College. A lifelong adventure traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest with her husband and children.
Read an Excerpt
The Line Between
Conventional wisdom dictates that there’s an insurmountable divide—an entire dimension of eternity and space—between Heaven and Hell. Lucifer managed to make the trip in nine days, at least according to Paradise Lost. That equates to a distance of about 25,920 miles, assuming standard rules of velocity.
But I can tell you it’s closer to a foot and a half. The distance of a step.
Give or take an inch.
Magnus stands near the gatehouse, shirtsleeves rolled up, collar unbuttoned beneath his brown vest. He nods to the Guardian in the booth and the industrial gate begins its mechanical slide. There’s a small door to the side of it just large enough to admit a single person, but I won’t be leaving by the Narrow Gate. My departure must be a spectacle, a warning to those assembled behind me.
I can feel their eyes against my back like hot iron. The glares mottled by anger and fear. Sadness, maybe, but above all gratitude that they are not me.
Two Guardians stand at my sides ready to forcibly walk me out in case I balk or my twenty-two-year-old legs give out beneath me. I glance at the one to my right and swear he looks impatient. Hungry, maybe; it’s just before lunchtime. I’m crossing into eternal damnation, and all he’s thinking about is an egg salad sandwich—and not even a good one. It’s Wednesday, Sabbath by the solar calendar. Rosella is managing the kitchen, and that pious sandwich is full of chickpeas without a single real egg in it.
The gate comes to a stop with an ominous clang. The road be-yond is paved with gravel, a gray part in a sea of native grass strewn with gold and purple flowers in stark contrast to the carefully and beautifully manicured grounds behind me. A meadowlark sings somewhere nearby as a combine rumbles in the distance.
I grip the plastic bag of my sparse belongings: a change of underwear, my baby book stripped of its photos, a stone the color of sea glass. Sweat drips down the inside of my blouse as I stare out at that feral scape. At that barren drive through untouched prairie that leads to the road half a mile away.
A car idles at the corner, waiting for me.
Don’t look. Don’t glance back. That’s Pride talking, a voice so faint this last decade I wasn’t aware it was still in there. Still, I turn. Not because I need a parting glance at the compound I called home for the last fifteen years or even Jaclyn, my sister. But because I need to see her.
My niece, Truly.
I scan the nearly five hundred Select assembled across the broad drive until I find her small form near the front, her hand in Jaclyn’s, curls wafting around her head in the breeze.
I’d planned to mouth the words I love you. To tug my right earlobe in our secret sign so she’ll remember me long after she’s told she can never speak my name again. To fight back tears at the sight of hers, to combat her confusion with love.
Instead, my heart stops.
She’s glaring at me, her face pink, growing redder by the instant. I open my mouth—to say what, I don’t know—but before I can, she tears her hand from my sister’s and runs away, disappearing into the assembly.
“Truly!” I gasp, and stagger a step after her. The Guardians grab my arms.
“No. Wait—Truly!” I twist against them, plastic bag swinging against my thigh. I can’t leave her like this. Not like this. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
None of it was.
I shift my gaze to my sister, where she stands beside the six Elders. Her cheeks are hollow, features chiseled far beyond her twenty-seven years.
“What did you say to her?” I shout as I’m jerked back around and hauled toward Magnus, who stands before the open gate, this side of that invisible line.
“Wynter Roth,” Magnus says, loudly enough for those behind us to hear. Which means he’s basically shouting right at me. Gone, the brown-and-gray scruff that was on his chin yesterday. I can smell his aftershave from here.
“Please,” I whisper in the space between us, trying to snag his gaze. But he stares past me as though I were a stranger.
“Because of your deliberate, prolonged disobedience . . .” His words carry to those behind me even as the breeze whisks mine away.
“Just let me say good-bye!”
“. . . including the sins of idolatry, thievery, and the willful desire to harm the eternal future of those most vulnerable among us . . . because you will not hear the pleas of the brethren and refuse repentance, you are hereby delivered to Satan for the destruction of your flesh.”
I hear the words as though from a distance. I’ve seen and heard them spoken before—I just never thought they’d be aimed at me. So this is it. There will be no good-byes. And I realize I hate him.
Magnus lifts up his hands. “And so we renounce your fellowship and cast you out of our holy number even as we pray for the restoration of your salvation, which you forfeit this day. Now, as it is bound on Earth, so let it be bound in Heaven.” He lowers his arms as the assembly echoes his words and says, more quietly as he meets my eyes at last, “You have broken our hearts, Wynter.”
He moves away before I can respond and the Guardians walk me to the line as I glance back one last time.
But Truly is gone.
I face the gravel drive before me.
One step. That’s all it takes to span the distance of eternity.
Welcome to Hell.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wynter Roth has lived in an apocalyptic religious cult since she was 7. At age 22, Wynter manages to escape from the cult only to realize that the thing that she was afraid of all her life, the end of the world, is actually happening. A fatal disease, which makes people go crazy is spreading all over the world. Wynter embarks on a mission to save the world and help her niece escape from the cult. The Line Between by Tosca Lee is a captivating apocalyptic thriller that held my attention from page one. The chapters alternate between the past and the present adding an extra layer of tension in a novel where the suspense is already high. There are plenty of questions that need answers and I was pleasantly surprised that answers came at a steady and pleasing rate that always satisfied me as the next question intrigued me. The novel follows the life of Wynter Roth, a young 22 years old woman who just left a doomsday cult. Her character is relatable and I found myself empathizing with her as we learn how she fell prey to an evil preacher. As I learned more about her life through the many flashbacks I realized how much she changes. From an innocent and broken girl she turns into a brave and purposeful woman who is not afraid of anything. I liked that the change could be seen and could also be believed. The character building in this book is something I really enjoyed. The cult leader Magnus Theisen is the protagonist of the story. He manipulates his followers and destroys other people’s lives, all to reach his own goal. He is a cruel man who even wants to use the disease for his benefit. His character is provocative but I felt he was not explored enough. I thought he was compelling and I wanted to learn more about him, maybe by telling a bit of the story from his perspective. While the main characters are all alluring and thoughtfully developed, I thought that there were too many minor characters in the novel. Sometimes I found it difficult to follow who was who. The Line Between is an engrossing story filled with action, religion, romance, and survival all at once. If you like layered apocalyptic stories, then this is for you.
I had the opportunity to read this book a little early and I'm so glad I did. Tosca has a writing style and ability to tell a story that keeps me engaged and wanting to know more. Although, I wasn't sure about the book at first (the prologue prior to Chapter 1 was written in a different style that I didn't care for it), I really enjoyed reading the book. The characters were well thought out and described. I especially enjoyed how Tosca told 2 stories at once (past and present). It was told in a non-confusing manner that was easy to follow. I would have read it in 1 day had I not been jet-lagged. This is a book that anyone can enjoy and it is highly recommended. A+, Tosca! Hoping for another book.
I love dystopian fiction and this one was chillingly real and oh so relevant! Wynter and her sister, Jaclyn move to New Earth with their mother as they flee an abusive father. Little do they know that this welcoming community is in actuality a cult that needs new members to further their "mission" as they believe the Apocalypse is imminent. Told in alternating chapters as they move in and after Wynter is thrown out, the novel speaks to so many elements of society today: climate change, natural disasters, bio-terrorism, mass shootings, but also familial love and the lengths one may go to for survival in this crazy world. Now I am eagerly awaiting the sequel as I'm invested in the characters!
To be honest, I'm not even sure how to begin this review, except to say... WOW! WOW! WOW!!! I enjoy reading a variety of genres, however, this genre is not my typical choice. Truthfully, I'm not sure what prompted me to choose this book but I am more than glad that I did. I'm really not the type of person that gives a lot of the plot away when writing reviews so you'll mainly get my 'two cents' about the writing. The author, Tosca Lee, is brand new to me and I am now a fan. The characters in the story are extremely compelling and I could tell that a lot of research had to have been done to combine the aspects of an apocalyptic disease wiping out humanity AND having the main character just being forced out of a cult. What an interesting and engaging perspective for the story. The story begins with a pig farmer and what happens on his farm after one of his pigs has piglets. At first I questioned why that was in the story and quickly I was able to start piecing together why it was so important. After this quick introduction the story is told from Wynter Roth's perspective (her past...her time at New Earth (a doomsday cult) and her present ...after she has been kicked out of the cult). The story is fast paced and definitely a page turner. I started the story in the morning and found myself enjoying listening to it so much that I bought the Nook version so I could read along with the story as it was being read to me!! I had to pause and reread a few times just to be sure that what I heard was really happening (it kind of makes me want to become a vegetarian)!! The story has me still thinking about it (I finished it 13 hours ago too) because I can see the events in the story happening in real life. I love Wynter, she is a truly complex character and a protagonist that people will relate to. Tosca Lee is an extremely gifted writer. The story is spellbinding, engaging, fast-paced, compelling, and leaves you in deep thought while wanting more of the story. Excellent book!! I highly recommend it!
Wynter was forced to leave a doomsday cult that she lived in most of life into a world she didn’t know anything about. On top of that, a pandemic is starting that leave the sick mad before killing them off. This is an exciting book that hooked me from the first page. The type you are eager to finish, but don’t want to end. It combined the present with flashbacks to explain why Wynter is the way she is. This is definitely my favorite book that I’ve read this year. The only criticism I could make is that the end seemed a little rushed and some things were not explained. There is a second book that will be coming out in September, so maybe some of these things will be explained.
¿Tosca Lee has compared thrillers to roller coasters. The last actual one I rode jarred at every corner and turn and left me aching. I’ve read some thrillers that left me feeling the same. The plot twists were clumsy and contrived. Her novel THE LINE BETWEEN is a coaster ride but every twist and turn is as smooth and thrilling as bacon grease on lightning.
The Line Between by author Tosca Lee is another not to be missed book! The subject matter grabbed my heart and I cried as I read The Line Between. I will add the reason for my extreme personal reaction at the end of this review. Wynter Roth is a teenager who is excommunicated from a group of religious survivalists called the New Earth. The group is lead by a very charismatic leader, Magnus. Wynter's sister is married to Magnus and now Jaclyn and her child are left inside this enclave of fanatics who believe the outside world is pure evil and environmental catastrophes are a punishment from God. Of course, when a viral outbreak of dementia sweeps across the prairie states chaos runs rampant. Was the preaching of Magnus true and the evil of the world is bringing about judgment from God? Or is this an unavoidable outbreak such as history across the world has seen over the centuries? Wonderful storytelling at it's best! I could not help but cheer for Wynter!