HELL by Tom Lewis

HELL

The Possession and Exorcism of Cassie Stevens
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 16-year-old girl is relentlessly tormented by a demon that has latched onto her in this supernatural novel.

After her father’s death, Maine teenager Cassie Stevens, depressed and withdrawn, befriends like-minded goths Seth, Silvia, and Trish. But while those three are intrigued by attending a bona fide Black Mass, Cassie is disturbed, especially when, shortly thereafter, she begins feeling a mysterious presence inside her. Her mom, teachers, and peers notice her ensuing behavior: She uncharacteristically lashes out at others with little or no provocation. Things only get worse: On Halloween night, she and her friends are in a car wreck that technically kills Cassie, though doctors revive her minutes later. Unfortunately, she believes something has followed her back from death. Cassie sees ghostly figures that trash rooms, intermittently hears “the shrill” (a fierce sound only she can detect), and, at one point, loses control of her body to what she’s determined is a demon. Most think this is merely Cassie’s psychosis, including Father Sean McCready, who just lost the love of his life, Amy Duval, to an aneurysm. But he soon realizes that if the church doesn’t perform an exorcism for Cassie, the girl will surely die. Though Lewis’ (Aftermath, 2015) novel checks off a few conventions of exorcism stories (for example, a priest seemingly questioning his faith), it also deviates with a concentration on Cassie. For example, demonic possession doesn’t overtake her for the narrative’s duration. Rather, the tale shows firsthand what she endures, often via her senses: the shrill, an inexplicable stench, and glimpsing a “ghoulish face.” Even sans supernatural elements, Cassie is an intriguing protagonist: She’s a high schooler dealing with her dad’s death and suffering the cruelty of bullies. The story is swift and spooky, from whispering voices and Cassie’s unsettling dreams to the demon’s surprisingly offing other characters. There is, however, a crucial plot twist—revealed well before the end—that readers will likely predict.

A creepy horror yarn that triumphantly focuses on the protagonist over the exorcism.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-72684-594-6
Page count: 373pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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