Book Review: Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz

20663898Title: Exorcist Road
Author: Jonathan Janz
Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction, Novella
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?”
Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.
A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.
But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.”

At a relentless pace, Exorcist Road introduces us to the cast of characters ready for the most haunted night of their lives. From start to finish, this book keeps up the same, speedy pace, yet although it’s fast, we do get all the things you’d come to expect from a horror novella: characterization and development, a suspenseful plot, and a sense of terror slowly seeping into your bones.

Father Crowder is a young priest who gets summoned one night to perform an exorcism. Having never done one before, Crowder is naturally worried, but he can’t say no when officer Danny Hartman knocks on his door. When the officer takes him to the house of his brother, where fourteen-year-old Casey has attacked his entire family and appears to be possessed by a demon, Crowder starts to fear this night might change his life forever.

Jack, Danny’s partner, doesn’t believe Casey is possessed by a demon. He believes the boy to be the Sweet Sixteen Killer – a murderer who targets sixteen-year-old girls and has left the police baffled so far. Crowder has no idea what to expect: a boy possessed or a murderer in disguise?

This is no subtle horror book – the horror is right in your face, from the murders to the demon throwing poor Casey’s body around or shouting in unearthly voices. Usually, that kind of horror doesn’t manage to scare me, but here the true terror is not in the demon’s actions, but in his words. The demon knows the killer’s identity, and he spills clues all night, and turns all of the cast against one another in a sick, twisted power game.

The author is obviously very talented, especially when he combines the two storylines and it still ends up being believable (well, in as far as demonic possession is believable when so extreme). The result is an entertaining, suspenseful book that manages to be creepy at times without overdoing it.

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