The Exorsistah
by Claudia Mair Burney, fantasy (2008)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4516-1093-2


The Exorsistah was first published back in 2008 and it escaped my attention back then. Now, this book is reissued with a brand cover that seems a little too similar to the current crop of romantic young adult paranormal novels glutting the market. The cover is misleading, though, because while this one has demons and devils, they are the bad guys, not boyfriends. If I am to describe this book, it's an inspirational urban fantasy romp featuring characters who will laugh at the Black Dagger Brotherhood boys if they weren't being God-fearing polite people who have been raised right.

Emme Vaughn and her mother have a gift of seeing demons, devils, and maybe an angel or two. As you can imagine, other people don't cozy up to them too well. When the story begins, Emme finds herself homeless after an unpleasant encounter with her guardian's boyfriend. Emme's mother had been hauled off to the padded cell for a few years now, so poor Emme is on her own. With a nudge from the above, however, she soon finds herself in the company of folks, led by Mother Nicole, who make it their mission to take down demons that are causing mischief in this world. This story is pretty much about Emme's indoctrination into the group and a possible chance at romance with Francis, a handsome young man who is a bit too good to be true.

This story, unfortunately, is far from the interesting story that I initially expected when I came across it in the bookstore. An urban fantasy romp with crucifix and Jesus sounds like a great change from the usual formula, after all. Alas, this story is way too heavy on the talking and not enough on the action. This is an inspirational story, so some heavy-handed sermons about the Universal Homogenous Christian Church of Fiction Land are to be expected. But there are way too many long and dry discussions on God's intention on giving Emme her gifts and how faith has helped the various secondary characters find their calling in life. For a very long time, it's all talk - the plot seems to be mere padding for the blah-blah-blah. The characters need to catch their breath now and then, after all.

This is also a story which I believe will be more entertaining if it's made into a movie. Our good guys fight demons by holding down the possessed person and praying over that person. That's as exciting as it gets, and because there are no spinning heads for me gawk at - just demons spitting at our heroine - things aren't very exciting after all. At least in a visual medium, I can enjoy the special effects. Here, I have only sparse descriptions about "serpents" and poor people levitating in the air.

Emme is an interesting character. Despite all the hard knocks she has received in life, she still manages to retain her faith. It's really too bad that the story doesn't give Emme much to work with. She turns out to be a flat character with a sassy attitude and not much else.

At any rate, The Exorsistah gets credit for being different from the other books in the genre, but being different alone is not good enough, not when the end result seems more like a theology lesson for street children. File this one under D for disappointing and dull.

Rating: 60


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