4 out of 4 stars
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When Father Niccolo Paladina is called out to the small town of Everett, Washington to investigate a possible demonic possession, everything seems questionable. For starters, Niccolo was called out by Father Jackson Reynolds, a 20-something-year-old man who runs a small church, and he was called against the area's bishop's wishes. Jackson believes an older woman in his congregation, Rose Gallagher, is possessed while bishop Leopold Glasser agrees she needs help, but it's mental help that she needs, not an exorcism. Niccolo has been trained in the art of exorcism, but he has never actually performed one, so his job is merely to find out whether Rose is actually possessed or not and report back.
The Everett Exorcism by Lincoln Cole is a very character-driven novel. Niccolo is an interesting man; he comes from the Vatican for his investigation and clearly has a preference for Rome over the rainy, colder weather he faces in Washington. He may be a polite, respectful man outwardly, but we as readers are treated to his entertaining judgements about almost everything and everyone. What makes Niccolo truly interesting, though, is that even though he's been trained in exorcism he doesn't really believe demons and hellish creatures roam Earth - they belong in hell, and while people may give into evil deeds, it's humans who do them, not demons, right?
As Niccolo goes about his investigation we're treated to his every doubt and thought. It gets a little repetitive at times but it absolutely works - it's exactly how I would think and feel in that situation, so that repetition drew me in even more. For Niccolo to report back that an exorcism is required is a major call, and if he gets it wrong he could get into some rather serious trouble himself, so all of the odd feelings and small, weird events he goes through have to be weighed heavily against the possibility that Niccolo is wrong and the trouble he'd stir up if so. This mental tug-of-war gets tougher and tougher as things in Everett get weirder and a huge possible conspiracy gets more and more likely.
For those who have read other books from Lincoln Cole, you may recognize one of the characters in The Everett Exorcism. This character and Niccolo actually share a past, and when Niccolo bumps into them he wants them gone immediately! While I've never read any of Cole's other works, I have sampled many of them, and I was shocked when I came across this character here. If you've enjoyed any of the World on Fire series, this should be enough to sell you on The Everett Exorcism alone. This surprise character is a big part of the book, and we're treated to a great deal of their backstory.
The Everett Exorcism is part of a series as well, although unlike the World on Fire series this one is only two books - The Everett Exorcism and The Vatican Children - which make up the World of Shadows series. Both books release within a week of each other according to Amazon (the 24th and 31st of October respectively), and while I'm definitely interested in how the series will end, The Everett Exorcism ended on a very solid note. The two books are clearly connected, and even in the end it's clear what The Vatican Children will be about, but I don't feel like I read only half of a book. On the contrary - The Everett Exorcism felt like TWO books in one.
This "two books in one" was perhaps the closest I had to a negative about the book. From the beginning the book is told in third person, following Niccolo. Around halfway through the book shifts to another character, and in doing so the feel of the book changes drastically. The first half is tense, dark and even frightening, but the third quarter shifts toward action. I really missed how masterfully Cole wrote tense scenes where Niccolo didn't know if he was crazy or not. It wasn't because Cole was bad at the action side, it was because he was SO GOOD at the tense writing! I've never read a horror story before (aside from a bunch of Goosebumps books as a teenager), and I always assumed a book would never be able to make me feel as tense as a television show or movie. Boy was I wrong!
Overall, it's incredibly easy to give The Everett Exorcism 4 out of 4 stars. Cole masterfully pulls off tense moments, horror, questioning whether something is even real or not and action. He also successfully makes each of the characters (not just the main ones) feel like real people, and I loved every minute I spent with the book. If you like tense books or horror, especially if you're Christian (Niccolo and Jackson both bring some REALLY interesting stuff to the table), I highly recommend the book.
The Everett Exorcism
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