Filmed, this would be the kind of misty story you'd shoot through a lens generously smeared with vaseline. Jud Rivers grows up as a pious boy down South, and when he's faith-healed of a life-threatening fever by an ascetic hermit named Slater, the kid really goes deity-dotty. But a mixture of adolescence and exposure to a shopkeeper's shapely and agnostic wife, Lily, shakes Jud's faith down to dust. Temptation leads to temptation: he's soon busted for smoking hash and is only allowed subsequent probation on the promise that he live with the local preacher and his chaste daughter, Hannah. Jud and Hannah, though. . . . Seduction, abortion, Hannah's accidental death--Jud and the reappearing Slater isolate the root of all this evil in the witchy hands of Lily, who's forever in Jud's dreams and calls out to be exorcised. Jones is a knowing, measured writer and he postpones the book's eroticism to create a mood of fine tension, but the allegorical fundamentalism of the subject and the woozy impressionism of the style neither fully lock nor really satisfy.