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At the age of 27, Michelle Smith went to her psychiatrist with an astounding tale that supposedly burst from her unconscious, and thereafter unfolded it bit by bit over a year of sessions. It seems that her mother delivered her over (at the age of five) to a Satanic cult in their native British Columbia--where-upon Smith was held captive and tortured mercilessly for nearly a year, in an effort to make her one of the devil's minions. Only sadists could appreciate the endless details: horror upon horror heaped upon the resilient little girl's head, from caging with snakes and spiders to baby killings to electroshock and ego-destruction techniques. In terror of the Evil's power, even 22 years later, she sought and received refuge in the Catholic Church (with her bishop going so far as to take her to Rome to tell her story). Eventually we reach the climax: some sort of once-every-28-years wingding with the devil, where Smith is imprisoned by his tail and forced to watch finger-chopping and fornication rituals, plus the devil's plans for the world in cinemascope (for the Seventies and beyond: scenes of individual isolation and despair). Fortunately, Jesus and Mary step in just in the nick of time to reinforce her resistance and speak in riddles (and where have they been for the past year, we wonder?). When the therapy is ended, Smith and Pazder both have broken marriages, but they've proven one thing: Satanism, with all its highly repetitive and formalized rituals of antisocial behavior, is a great big yawn. Oddly, the most unbelievable--and interesting--element is the psychological tenacity of a five-year-old child in the face of sheer madness; that makes a yarn in itself. Too bad the rest is all piffle.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Congdon & Lattes--dist. by St. Martin's