Author: Thomas B. Allen
First Published: 1994
Page Count: 241
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 2/5 Stars
This may be the an account of the real exorcist, but readers looking for a scare are better off sticking with Blatty’s fictional version.
*Comparisons to “The Exorcist”
“The veneer of fiction covered a terrible reality. There had been a boy possessed. There had been a real exorcism. A real boy had lived through terror.” Robbie Mannheim was like any other carefree fourteen year old boy until he became possessed by the demonic. Though Robbie’s story of possession and exorcism is not widely known, the fictional retelling of his story, The Exorcist, rattled the world. This book brings to light the details of the real exorcism that inspired one of the scariest films in movie history.
Having just read The Exorcist it seemed like a good idea to start Possessed while the story was fresh in my mind. The real draw for me with this book was comparing the real story and the infamous fictional version. I learned that they are pretty dramatically different. The Exorcist seems to be a much more violent, loud, in your face exorcism story, but that doesn’t mean what happened to Robbie was any less shocking. Though the stories were pretty different, I saw that as a positive because this isn’t just a rehash of a story most people already know.
In my mind this should have been even scarier then The Exorcist, maybe even the scariest book on the supernatural I have ever read. Unfortunately, my high expectations were not met. The beginning is exciting because of what’s to come and the ending is interesting in that the author reveals how the film and novel came about in relation to when the real exorcism happened. But as for the actual meat of the story? I was left pretty darn bored. I would say a good hundred pages felt like it was just paragraphs of prayer. While I like a dash of prayer every now and then to get a sense of what the exorcist is saying to fight off the demonic, this was too much detail and a bit repetitive. Likewise, the descriptions of Robbie’s behavior while possessed felt monotonous. He was either on a shaking bed or spitting. That was about the extent of it or at least what he consistently exhibits as a possessed human.
Compared to other stories of possession, whether fact or fiction, those stories felt much more shocking and creepy then what is detailed in this book. There are better books on the supernatural and if you want a scare I suggest just sticking to The Exorcist instead of the story it’s based on. Between the two, this is definitely the more forgettable version of such a famous story.
*TV Adaptation: (Starring Timothy Dalton 2000)