Have you checked out the WriteOnCon activities this week? They're really on their game, offering a ton of great information about writing and publishing as well as giving you access to people in the industry. If you haven't checked it out yet, I urge you to give it a shot! (click on the image)
Also, be sure to check out my new ARC giveaway before you go (below my review!) Entries will be tallied and winners of POSSESS and THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER will be posted ASAP. That thingy I was working on before technical issues assaulted me kind of took up all my time. Blerg.
So, my review...
POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.
The first time I tried reading POSSESS at night, I thought I might creep myself into a catatonic state.* It's not that the book is gruesome or even overly scary. It's just, I don't know--the subject, maybe? Also, I'm a wimp. A big one. As far as creepy subjects go, demonic possession is probably like number one on the list (also clowns and heroin chic). Add to that McNeil's amazingly vivid descriptions and spook-worthy settings, and you end up with this incredible work of creepawesome.
But you know what's weird? Okay, I should really have prefaced this by mentioning that I normally don't read books like this. I'm just not the kind of person that enjoys the thrill of fear. Wimp, I tell you, wimp. BUT as creeped out as I was reading POSSESS, I wasn't terrified--I didn't worry that I'd end up with nightmares. It doesn't take long to realize why either. Mainly, Bridget. The reader becomes so steeped in who she is (even with a 3rd person POV!) that you can't help but feel as she's feeling. And instead of quaking and cowering in a corner (as I'd be wont to do when faced with a demonic possession), she cracks a joke and banishes the heck out of her demons.
Which brings me to what I think is one of the strongest elements of POSSESS--the voice. Seriously, the voice alone is enough to keep a reader from sinking into the abyss of trembling fear. There's this one scene in the middle which takes normal, household items (I'll let YOU find out what they are) and combines them with demonic possession, creating something beyond Hitchcockian (think the clown in just about every horror movie), but Bridget's voice kept me grounded, letting me see through the eyes of one very jaded, hilarious teenager. Imagine a part Asian Emma Stone performing an exorcism (or as Bridget calls it, banishment). Serious entertainment.
I should probably also mention the romance. Because that's in there, too. It's not the primary focus, but it definitely occupies a good chunk of Bridget's thoughts and activity; when you get a look at the love interest, you'll understand why--talk about dreamy sigh. And then there's the priest. OMG, the priest. I should stop before I give something away. Just know I was impressed by how well McNeil crafted that relationship. There's also some mysterious backstory that is not only relevant, but beautifully weaved into the story, building up Bridget's world as something much bigger and more complex (also, cooler...way cooler) than I'd imagined. McNeil took a genre that has often felt hands-off for me and made it accessible and captivating, while retaining the creep factor that has eyes popping and fingers squeezing dents into the cover. POSSESS is a gripping (sometimes hilarious) thrill from beginning to end.
*Never once did she get near catatonia. She exaggerates. Ignore the lies. More like a state where you jump at your own reflection in the glass door.**
**Intentional 3rd person.
Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:
Christine Fonseca , Beth Revis , Jessi Kirby and Stasia Ward Kehoe
And, we know you MUST have your Thursday Bookanista reviews so here you go!
Veronica Rossi loves Legend
Shana Silver serves up a Maureen Johnson double feature of The Last Little Blue Envelope & The Name of the Star
Scott Tracey is awed by Anna Dressed in Blood
Bethany Wiggins howls over How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend
Carrie Harris is in a frenzy over Stupid Fast
Gretchen McNeil is spellbound by Witch Eyes
Carolina M Valdez and Shelli Johannes-Wells are passionate about Possess
Matt Blackstone blogs From Bedside
More ARCs Giveaway
This 3-ARC giveaway will run a little longer than usual, primarily because I want to be sure and get in reviews before the giveaway is over (or shortly after). But even without the reviews, believe me, they are all worth entering to win. No, really. You WANT these books.
(Click on book cover images to open summary in another window)
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE
by Laini Taylor
by Bethany Wiggins
ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
This ARC is SIGNED by the author.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER the More ARCs International Giveaway
This giveaway is international and ends Wednesday, Aug 31, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.
Thanks for entering, and good luck!
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED. Here are the winners:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor
SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins
ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
Maria (pronounced Mariah)
Congratulations, winners! Please email me an address to which I can send your book.
Thanks so much all of you who entered! Please stay tuned to find out about my next giveaway, coming soon. Maybe tomorrow? Hm.