Exorcist Road is the prequel novella to Exorcist Falls, the new novel from horror author Jonathan Janz due for release this month. I’ll be reviewing that soon so Exorcist Road was the obvious place to start.
The parallels with the film The Exorcist are inescapable, despite one of the characters actually saying that the events are not like that. Two priests: one an older, experienced man; the other younger, struggling with his faith to a degree, are called to a house where a child has apparently been possessed. Horrific events that defy the laws of nature follow; events that have a dramatic effect on everyone involved.
The parallels may be hard to overlook, but Janz succeeds in bringing a fresh note to a well-trodden concept. The novella is told from the viewpoint of the junior priest throughout and we get a great sense of everything that goes on, as well as what makes him who he is, both the good points and the numerous flaws. The pacing is good, though it struggles a little when the demon is not in the scene. Chapter one is the biggest problem there: it contains a massive info-dump in the form of a prolonged conversation that could have easily been split up, and some of the facts told later on.
There were a couple of other flaws worthy of mention: the author is fond of detail; a little too much at some points. There are a few details in the plot that strained credulity, particularly the point revolving around a particular accent. I can’t say more for fear of spoilering things, but that detail felt like it was virtually rammed in there for later, with no realistic explanation of how the character in question knew it.
Janz’s language is descriptive as I mentioned, but he often throws in more complicated or obscure words unnecessarily. A prime example is “He deserved to be manumitted from this filth.” In context it made sense but I still had to check to make sure I had the correct meaning. It doesn’t happen often enough to be a real issue, but is still a little jarring.
Overall the novella is a good read though. There are a couple of twists at the end, one of which managed to surprise me, and I’m keen to see how Exorcist Falls will develop the characters that Janz introduces us to here. Definitely worth a read, though if you’re particularly sensitive you should bear in mind that there are numerous instances of violence and references of a sexual nature.