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I Belong

Review: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Possess

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: August 23, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062060716 (Balzer + Bray)

ISBN-13:  978-0062060716  (Balzer + Bray)

Reviewed by: Emmy


Rule #1: Do not show fear. 

Rule #2: Do not show pity. 

Rule #3: Do not engage. 

Rule #4: Do not let your guard down. 

Rule #5: They lie.

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.

Quick & Dirty: This story is perfect for anyone who loves ghosts and suspense–and doesn’t mind being more than a little freaked out!  The characters are amazing and the plot is the perfect high-school-meets-the-exorcist story.

Opening SentenceBridget stared at the clock on the wall and cursed its painfully slow progression towards three fifteen.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I am hard pressed to think of something I didn’t like about this book.  The narrator, despite being fifteen, is the perfect combination of smart ass and smart. Bridget goes to a Catholic school in San Francisco, and demonaic possessions and infestations have been rising in the last few weeks.  One night while babysitting, a demon enters the house and goes after the twins there.  Worse, Bridget can hear them talking to each other, whether they’ve manifested in a body or not.  And they seem to be coming to find her.

Monsigor Renault gives her the five rules of banishment.  As the world around her begins to flip upside down, her mentor’s mantra become words to live by.  Amaymon, one of the demon kings, is gathering his servants in Hell, and his minions on earth are beginning the ritual that will bring him to life.  Then there’s Father Santos, the babysitter sent by the Vatican to make sure Monsignor is doing his job.  The rise in infestations has left the church worried and Father Santos isn’t being forthcoming about what’s going on.

Soon ancient biblical scripture comes crashing into Bridget’s life and everything she knows about herself is turned around.  The demons are calling to her, but can she trust them?  And what does her father’s murder–only eight months prior to the beginning of the novel–have to do with all this?  If she can’t figure out what the demons’ plans are, more people are going to die.  Or worse, more demons will come to earth.

This isn’t a religious novel, so don’t be scared off by all the Catholicism!  It’s about banishing and exorcising demons, not a church sermon.  In my experience people have been turned off by any mention of a priest in a story blurb but please don’t be!  The priests are characters, not preachers.  They are the source of Bridget’s information about what’s going on, about who she is and what she has to do to keep her family and the world safe.

Then there’s Matt Quinn.  He’s basically perfect.  He helps coach her younger brother at baseball, he doesn’t take any of Bridget’s bullshit, and he’s also really hot. I love the way this romance develops, because it isn’t any of the love-at-first-sight nonsense you read in a lot of young adult books.  In fact, she really hates Matt–or at the very least resents him and his dad for barging into the Liu family’s life.  It’s annoying, the way they’re so overprotective.  But eventually, as a reader you realize just how much protection the family might need.  Matt’s a great romantic subplot, because he and Bridget work so well together with their sarcastic, smart ass senses of humor.  Notice I say subplot–Matt isn’t a lead character, and the romance takes a back seat throughout the story.

McNeil does the perfect job of balancing the aspects of suspense and horror.  I couldn’t put this book down until I was sure all of my favorite characters were going to end up all right.  After all, she’d killed off the father, and I was scared who’d be next.  I couldn’t get the pages turned fast enough.  Bridget is an absorbing, light hearted narrator despite the subject matter.

Notable Scene:

“Christ on a cross.” Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

“Bridget?” Father Santos sounded worried.  “What is it?”

“You don’t hear that?” she asked.  So not good.

“What?” Monsignor asked. “What do you hear, Bridget?”

A Watcher is here. What fun! What fun!

A Watcher? Where had she heard that before?

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Possess.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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One Response to “Review: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

  1. Marie LambaNo Gravatar

    Wow, this sounds like a red-hot read.

    Thanks for the great review. I’ll have to add this title to my spooky list…

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