Exorcist Falls is the new novel from Jonathan Janz, out this month. I’ve already reviewed the prequel novella, Exorcist Road, and you can find that here. Before you read on be aware that this review will contain spoilers for that novella.
It’s worth mentioning first that the novel contains scenes of extreme violence: the kind that would very definitely earn a film an “18” rating. They don’t bother me, but some readers may well find them a little off-putting. The scenes are necessary for the plot, though it must be said that the violence does in some places verge on the gratuitous: particularly in what I think of as the demon’s “punishment” scene.
The novel starts abruptly, assuming that the reader is familiar with the events of the preceding novella: including the identity of the Sweet Sixteen killer, as well as the fact that the main character is sharing his body with a demon of incredible power and malevolence. The priest in question has the idea of using the demon to somehow fight against evil in the world, beginning with the serial killer whose identity only he is currently aware of. Naturally, things don’t exactly go to plan.
But then I never expected that they would. Despite the terrible things that happen to him, I found it very difficult to have any sympathy for the priest, who throughout is essentially a pathetic figure, consumed with his inadequacies and his lust for the mother of the demon’s last host. Only towards the end does he start to actually build some admirable traits but by then it’s far too late. He’s entirely too self-pitying for my taste.
The author’s problem with very convenient events continues in this story. There is a massive, massive coincidence regarding Danny Hartman’s new partner that, while necessary to move the story along, is entirely too forced and stretches credibility to breaking point. Of all the confessional booths in all the world…
Janz’s fondness for over-complicating his descriptions continues as well; often he uses words that are unnecessarily complex for particular situations: “shake my head in abnegation” being one of the more glaring examples of that as well as of his tendency to repeat himself.
The book on the whole is very well-edited with the exception of the demon’s “punishment” scene that I mentioned earlier, where it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Even so it was nothing particularly off-putting.
Despite its credibility-stretching plot points, Exorcist Falls is still a good story. There are two major twists at the end, one of which I was rather ambivalent about. The other, however, I genuinely didn’t see coming and as a result the story will definitely stick in my mind. It remains to be seen whether there will be any further stories involving these characters, but if there are, I expect I’ll read those as well!