A strange and terrifying first novel by an author who lives in town.
I usually prefer to write my own reviews of works, but I thought the backcover summary was so good that I’m going to quote it in full:
It is a world like our own in every respect… save one. In the 1950s, random acts of possession begin to occur. Ordinary men, women, and children are the targets of entities that seem to spring from the depths of the collective unconscious, pop-cultural avatars some call demons. There’s the Truth, implacable avenger of falsehood. The Captain, brave and self-sacrificing soldier. The Little Angel, whose kiss brings death, whether desired or not. And a string of others, ranging from the bizarre to the benign to the horrific.
As a boy, Del Pierce is possessed by the Hellion, an entity whose mischief-making can be deadly. With the help of Del’s family and a caring psychiatrist, the demon is exorcised… or is it? Years later, following a car accident, the Hellion is back, trapped inside Del’s head and clamoring to get out.
Del’s quest for help leads him to Valis, an entity possessing the science fiction writer formerly known as Philip K. Dick; to mother Mariette, a nun who inspires decidedly unchaste feelings; and to the Human League, a secret society dedicated to the extermination of demons. All believe Del holds the key to the plague of possession – and its solution. But for Del, the cure may be worse than the disease.
The novel reads like a campaign of Call of Cthulhu run by a collection of truly gifted roleplayers. The situations encountered by the reader inspire genuine horror – not terror or disgust as is so often the case in media – and pity, which is more remarkable. Even the antagonists are, to some degree, sympathetic. It’s all too easy to grasp what might drive people to do such terrible things in a world where no one is safe from being seized by an unknown being and used like a hand puppet – and possibly discarded as an uninteresting or broken toy afterwards.