Tag Archives: exorcism

“Where certain fungal infections are common…”

61. Come Closer – Sara Gran

Extremely short at 168 pages, and not a young adult book, this was a bit of a surprise take on possession – from the inside.

The demon has apparently been fond of Amanda since she was a young child but didn’t try to take full possession then. She waited. Then, once Amanda was basically getting her shit together, she pounced.

One of the amusing parts of the book involves the failure of self-help for Amanda. She finds Demon Possession Past and Present, a book that has a checklist and levels of how possessed one may be. As she becomes more and more possessed, she isn’t allowed to read books that might have helped her, she even finds that she’s burned several of them in her fireplace. The doctor recommended by her husband tells her to eat more salt and turns out to be possessed too – somehow salt makes the demon stronger in this story as opposed to being a purifying element and something demons can’t cross. The psychiatrist recommended by the doctor before she knows the doctor is possessed is also concerned as to why she wouldn’t want to be more active in her own life, taking control, doing weird stupid stuff that’s detrimental to her health and relationships but also more active…he’s possessed too.

And for once in a possession story, there’s no fight. No holy water. No “The power of Christ compels you!” Just a girl and the demon that tells her she’ll never leave her.

Peregrine is the pig that will never leave me. She’s not even a demon; she’s just nice that way.

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The body of an angel and the head of a wood owl

  1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

Hendrix has definitely made some novelist progress since Horrorstor. There are many details in My Best Friend’s Exorcism that really work – the descriptions of Charleston and summer activities in the south in general, the extreme specifics of cassette destruction, and lots and lots of fluids (although I can’t say I ever associated pickles with cadaver labs and I frankly don’t want to, I’ve never thought formalin and pickles had a similar scent either). The description of Margaret in her bed was stomach churning. And I very deeply understood what Abby’s mom was on about when she told her that her rich friends would use her as a scapegoat. I understand that position better than I ever wanted to, the powerful trying to keep the powerless in their place. The book also reads like a shot and I did stay up to keep going to find a non-paranoia inducing scene the second night I was reading it. I have very specific memories of the first time I watched The Exorcist that were invoked reading this (damn it, Regan-me similarities, you still bother me!) and those never make me feel comfortable going to sleep. My imagination is very strong and will not be denied.

On the other hand, the sense that I was being told too many things bothered me at several points. These characters were stronger than the ones in Horrorstor, but they’re still being written with a sense of remove – like they were conceptualized as types and not people and there’s some fight against that but the distance won. The exorcism itself also didn’t work for me; it seemed to go by really quickly and there was a lot of time and build up of what was going on with Gretchen that just didn’t square with the way the exorcism happened. Maybe if WHAM! had been involved instead of Phil Collins. You know Phil Collins made some kind of deal…you know it.

“The power of Phil is not compelling, Belvedere! I didn’t even like ‘Sussudio’!” Pickles will not be exorcised. She was never possessed, so it makes sense.

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I wonder if Suze ever wandered down to the Murder House, they needed some exorcising…and less decorating.

6. The Mediator: Shadowland – Meg Cabot

These books are a very good mid-point between Buffy and chicklit. My impression of Meg Cabot has always been that she writes books that appeal to your traditional girly-girl, and I’m still pretty sure she does. These are the only books of hers that I have read, and I read them because they added something that usually appeals to me – ghosts. And they are very teen, there’s slightly forbidden romance, and Suze Simon is a very teen-girl character, she’s from New York, she moves to California, she judges everyone for wearing pastel colors, she worries about her fashions, and she tends to lost souls. One thing I have to say that I appreciate quite a bit in these books is that Cabot does not lose the family dynamic. Suze is a teenager, she has to live with her now blended family, she has to deal with rules and consequences that normal supernaturally inclined characters don’t have to deal with because they’re orphans or abandoned by their dad or they run away because of their calling, etc. etc. It is important to demonstrate how a character such as Suze can function in a real life context, obviously, she gets in trouble a lot. But, being grounded has its perks in Suze’s case, in the form of a house ghost named Jesse.

Anyway, in Shadowland the series kicks off with a poltergeist and a very normal teenager conflict – Suze stole this ghost’s former boyfriend. What a bitch. So the poltergeist tries to kill both her ex-boyfriend and Suze and Suze gets in trouble because her mentor-mediator Father Dominic would rather she tried the gentle approach when dealing with ghosts, encourage them to move on instead of straight-up exorcise them. But whatever works.

I made Pammy move this one time, and she did move in with Thaddeus, but they received a little house and a little bridge to hide under so no harm was done.

7. Ninth Key

The second entry in the Mediator series mixes Buffy with a little Veronica Mars. Rich people doing scandalous things, trying to trap young Nancy Drew-types inside their blazing inferno estates, Nancy Drew-types kissing the wrong boys and letting ghosts interrupt them, etc. My one real qualm with this series is that it really feels like one book with small asides. I guess Suze is, like, learning things about herself along the way and young people have short attention spans, but this was published in 2001 when Harry Potter and books the size of doorstops were totally possible. Maybe just not for girls, who were still expected to be learning to cook and doing their daily exercises of embroidery – or was that the seventeenth century? In our modern political climate, I sometimes get the centuries confused.

Pammy caught this goat all on her own in between fending off her suitors, of which there will always be many.

8. Darkest Hour

So, as usual I read this series out of order. Some jerky real teenager was reading book three when I needed to read it and so I had to put it on hold at the library and wait. Ergh. Anyway, the story had certainly moved along in this fourth book and Jesse the house ghost took on a much bigger role than cute dead dude. You know, there are times when I wish these books had taken place in San Dimas, California. San Dimas High School football rules! Anyway again, it seems that the house ghost/cute dead dude had an evil fiancee. Highjinks ensue and before you can say “Deacon, you ditched Napoleon?” everybody’s a mediator and/or dead. Well, deadish, as in for a time. Some people stay dead. Mostly the previously dead ones. Ghosts, eh? What’re you going to do?

Pammy narrowly avoids a kiss from Thaddeus, who is not an evil ugly dude. He has also never ditched Napoleon at a water park.

9. Haunted

Boyfriend fight! Well, one potential boyfriend and one creepy extortionist boy that’s not really a friend fight. Did you know that ghosts can punch you in the face? I bet there are several people who know that, and one of them lives in Las Vegas and spends a lot of time on his hair. As I mentioned previously, these books feel like one big book and that becomes much more apparent once the “real” storyline starts to pick up speed in book four. I do not recommend reading these without getting your hands on all of them simultaneously…which is more possible now that they’re being republished as multi-book editions – at least the first two books have been re-published that way, with a less colorful cover. It’s one of those “oh look there’s some random girl on the cover of this young adult book” sort of covers. At least her back is turned, showin’ some intrigue.

What? There’s a young adult cover without some photograph of a girl’s face looking serious on it? Published within the last five years? Blasphemy! Surely it is an abomination.

10. Twilight

The last one in the series involves time travel. Because that’s how supernatural ghost-exorcising powers evolve. Duh. But no phone booths. And it works out the way it needs to in order to be a teenager romance without a vampire involved.

Pammy is trying to time travel by hiding under this pillow. It may work at some point.

11. Reunion

So in the fourth book in the series Suze tries out a plot line that was later somewhat co-opted by American Horror Story and lets some previously murdered teenagers attempt to get their revenge on their still deranged killer. This is also the book where the main story arc kicks off. And I read it last.

So this one time, Pammy and Twiglet were on top of the pillow and it still didn’t work as a time travel device. A cuddling space, definitely, but no time travel.

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