What would you sacrifice to make your dreams come true? Brittany Raschdorf explores a dark Hollywood underworld in her debut novel The Hypnotist’s Daughter. Prosperity “Peri” Baxter is ready to begin her acting career. Her father, a famous hypnotist, introduces her to Jameson Frye, a sinister Hollywood insider. Frye gives her the lead in a big movie, but she must first endure a gruesome initiation. “You don’t get something for nothing,” he reminds her. While filming the movie, Peri dives deeper into the darkness behind her film, her initiation, and her own family’s history.
The Hypnotist’s Daughter is a thriller that explores the darkness of the spirit world. This good-versus-evil story focuses more heavily on evil. After her initiation, Peri is sometimes controlled by a dark force, one she can call upon for added strength and concentration. Peri quickly learns how to benefit from the darkness within. “The idea that I can be my own source of strength fills me with confidence.”
Secret chambers and journals intensify the mysteries surrounding Peri’s life. Main characters are largely untrustworthy. Hints of good poke through the darkness, but it is hard to determine which characters, if any, are the good guys. Raschdorf’s novel captures readers with intrigue. She invites you deeper to uncover Peri’s backstory. The end of the novel leaves you wanting more; stay tuned for a sequel!
Some portions of The Hypnotist’s Daughter raised red flags. Early in the novel, Peri’s “initiation” is described in detail—not to the extent of erotica, but close. This chapter could be a trigger for victims of sexual abuse. Drug and alcohol use are woven throughout the novel. Questions about God are raised, but not fully explored or answered within the first book of the series. The spirit world is explored but not from an overtly Christian perspective.
Q & A with Author Brittany Raschdorf
What served as the inspiration for The Hypnotist’s Daughter?
I sort of stumbled upon the idea for Peri’s story. Originally, Prosperity was supposed to be a much younger character with a much more positive outlook on life. I got sucked into a rabbit hole one day on the Internet and found some pretty radical perspectives about [Katy Perry’s] 2014 Grammy performance of the song “Dark Horse.” I had a hard time believing the information I was reading as it was quite dark and sinister—some would call it far-fetched. A conspiracy theory if you will. But no matter how far-fetched, I just couldn’t quite shake it. It stuck with me.
After several deep conversations about the topic with professionals in the field of trauma and abuse counseling, along with a little more research, I was hooked. Peri’s story was beginning to take shape, and I was bound for months of research to establish her back-story
Peri says, “I try not to let my scars define me; I try to embrace them.” Do you hope to encourage women to lean into Peri’s motto through this novel?
Absolutely. There is power in embracing your pain. Without giving away the ending of the sequel, I hope the readers will follow along with Peri on her journey to overcome those who have hurt her. She learns a lot of hard lessons along the way and experiences things that I hope most will never have to experience. But my hope is that Peri will impart to the readers this truth: no matter what happens to you, you can overcome it.
Chapter two is graphic in both subject matter and description. Why did you include this and how do you hope readers respond to the way it plays out later in the novel/series?
Chapter two was the hardest decision I made involving this book. It is the result of countless conversations with friends, family and professional counselors who deal with rape victims, even victims of occult rituals, every day. The general consensus was though it will be hard for some to read, it is a necessary step to make Peri relatable and real.
Originally I had a very short, very vague chapter two that left the reader with a slight sense of what happened without going into specific detail but several people urged me to expound on the reality of Peri’s initiation.
Everyone who reads chapter two has a different reaction, depending on their past. Chapter two is a tough pill to swallow, but my hope is that it sheds some light and opens the door for conversations on the topic of rape of all kinds. Being raped is not something that you should suffer in silence about. Peri keeps her abusers secret and it tears her up inside. My hope is that Peri’s journey to healing will help other victims to find their own healing.
The novel explores the darker side of spirituality. Do you have plans to incorporate more positive aspects of the spirit world in the sequel?
Yes. Peri’s journey is like a long dark tunnel, but at the end of every tunnel is a ray of light. I kept Peri’s story dark and raw because it’s more relatable and real that way. You don’t ‘slay your demons’ without trials, and it’s not often a smooth ride. A ‘demon’ could be rape or abuse like Peri, or it could be addiction, self-harm, an eating disorder, divorce, depression… the list goes on and on, but the one thing that ties them all together is that overcoming these things is a process, and it’s not an easy one. Peri experiences that process and takes the reader by the hand as she fights her way out of the tunnel.