Monday, January 09, 2017

Impending Possession

Excellent title: The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé. I liked it SLIGHTLY better before I noticed the accent mark on "Rosé;" I think it scans better without that emphasis, but that is neither here nor there.

Scarlet is haunted, and she's trying to figure out why, how, by what.  There's a presence hovering around the corners of her life, a shadowy, threatening figure. Her work is suffering, her marriage is on the rocks, and her relationship with her teenage daughter isn't doing much better. She's desperate to figure out what it is and get rid of it, and when psychiatrists can't help her, she finds herself in church. She's a lesbian who was raised Catholic but hasn't been to church in years, but she has nowhere else to turn.

At church she meets Father Angelo, an exorcist with the requisite Haunted Past. She doesn't tell him about her problem at first, but his assistant Kelton realizes that Scarlet has some ability to detect powers and recruits her to help with the exorcisms. Eventually they hook up with Dante, Father Angelo's first supernatural tutor, and they try to help Scarlet sort out her demon problem.

I got this book from Netgalley for an honest review, but if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have finished it.  It felt like a stretched out short story, and none of the characters was very likeable.  With Scarlet, the implication is that the demon that's been haunting her has been interfering with her emotions and that's why she's been fighting so much with her wife and daughter, but that's hard to tell, since she seems to pride herself on being a hardass workaholic in the best of times.  Kelton is a one-note homophobe who is almost a caricature of a villain--which is weird, since he's supposed to be, technically, a "good guy."  Father Angelo's got a dark past, but he appears to have spent 30 years not thinking for himself at all, which comes across as very weird given that he's an exorcist.

The characters kind of thump along from one scene to the next; information about the demon unfolds, and there are past life regressions, and some of the demon logic doesn't make a lot of clear sense to me. Like, if a demon threatens you into saying some words in another language, does that count as promising something of your own free will?

This felt kind of like an early draft of something that could have been much better, if a lot of motivations had been sharpened up, and if all the characters' "humanizing" flaws had been balanced with humanizing virtues as well.

Great title, though. A long, kind of complicated title is a bold choice and almost always worth it.

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