Book Review: Tales of the Possessed

28575691Title: Tales of the Possessed
Author: C. Torrington
Genre: Nonfiction, Demonic Possession
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 2,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The idea of people possessed by evil spirits against their will is as old as the hills. Often there is thought to be a special way a person has become possessed. It might be the result of a curse cast on them by a sorcerer, or some unfortunate mishap such as stepping over a dead body. Or the demons can have been invited, in a Satanic ritual. More often, at least in recent Christian tradition, there is no initiating moment that can be identified – they just find their way in, like disease. From Pearl Curran, a housewife living in St Louis, Missouri, who soared to fame in the second decade of the 20th century as the amanuensis of ‘Patience Worth’, a writer who had died in the 17th century, to victims of Dissociative Personality Disorder (thought to have inspired Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde), this book examines demonic possession from every angle.

Tales of the Possessed wasn’t quite what I expected. I expected an in-depth account of several demonic possessions, including some real life experience or at least an interview with a person who claimed to be possessed. However, the book is more of a historical account. It focuses on several famous possessions that happened over the centuries, such as the stories that inspired The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the history of the nuns who got demonically possessed back in the seventeenth century, supposedly by a priest – I’m sure if you’ve read a few articles about exorcisms, you’ve come across the Loudun Possessions already.

However, the book is short. Too short. The information in its pages is far from new for anyone with an inkling of interest in the subject. The research is not satisfactory – most of what I found in the book could be lifted right form the Wikipedia page – I’m not saying that’s what happened, but I didn’t find any information there that I couldn’t find just by browsing Wikipedia on the subject. I had expected at least some more research, something that wasn’t readily available online.

More than anything, the book reads like an overview of cases without going in too much detail of what really happened. It prompted me to read up on several of the cases, but I found the book lacked a lot of information and only briefly touched the surface of the history of demonic possession.

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