The Devil's Possession
by Heather Waters, historical (2007)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-425-21664-4


The Devil's Possession has one thing going for it: author Heather Waters' writing style is engaging and very readable. However, this story requires a huge suspension of disbelief on my part, and not merely because the hero has powers to heal and then some - there are some problems with the depictions of the characters here as their actions and feelings can be really disconnected from the severity of their situation.

But first, the story. Faith Maitland has been raised and trained by her uncle, Elliot, to take his place one day as the Laird. I know what you are going to say, but trust me, if you think you are going to have problems with this particular scenario, you haven't seen anything yet. Faith is with child. She was raped while doing her own thing in the woods and now, she decides that she will name a dead man as the father of her child so that her people will not view her as a fallen woman. Hey, don't look at me. I am not making this up. I also don't know why it makes more sense to pretend that she had committed premarital sex instead of telling her uncle, who adores her, that she was raped.

Alas, Faith assumes that the man she names as the father of her brat, Draven the Devil, is dead but, unknown to her at that time, his execution has been postponed so Elliot, in righteous fury, arrives just in time to drag Draven from his execution to marry Draven off to Faith. Faith is horrified to learn that the person who had Draven flogged so badly and was about to call for his execution was Draven's own father. Meanwhile, I'd imagine that Draven would at least be grateful to Faith, especially when she shows him nothing but kindness after his release, but of course not, there won't be a story if Draven is sensible, so now Draven hates Faith. You see, Draven wants to die because of some really convoluted history of guilt and whatever involving dead women and dead fetuses so he will not forgive Faith for preventing him from dying and becoming a hero in his delusional mind.

Meanwhile, Draven's father - who also had Draven's mother executed - will not let Draven go easily because he covets the magical powers that Draven has inherited from his mother. Meanwhile, an enemy who was involved in Draven's misery in the past also happens to be lusting for Faith so there is another source of trouble waiting to make our main characters' lives more interesting.

This story has problems, many of them. Faith may be a rape victim but she doesn't seem to be affected in any believable manner by the experience. Instead, she is a very understanding person who instinctively senses that Draven Cameron is good instead of the devil everyone calls him. She is very patient, constantly making friendly overtures when Draven will rather hate her for saving his life. She's not a bad person, really, she's in fact often quite sweet and enthusiastic about spreading niceness and making moping crybaby boys smile. Unfortunately, her personality is one that is implausible for a person that is supposed to be in Faith's situation.

On the other hand, Draven is completely ridiculous. This fellow is so full of self-pity that he's already pathetic enough, but he gets the silly ass award when he stats moping that he should have died and he will make the others pay for saving him. It is also quite hard to believe that Draven, who has not spoken a word since his mother's death, always has ink and paper around to write down his petulant whining for people around him to enjoy. I can only roll up my eyes at his drama queen antics. Oh, and are paper and ink really that easily available at that time? We are talking about the medieval era in Scotland, mind you.

The story development is also full of clichés of the cartoon variety. The villains are really evil to the point that they are too hilarious for words. The dead woman Draven beats himself up over and over was, of course, linked to the bad guy. The author also isn't above using shortcuts to illuminate Draven's good nature by having Faith instinctively knowing, sensing, whatever that Draven is a good guy even if he's constantly behaving like a big baby.

Despite problems like a hero who behaves like a big baby, predictable clichés, and hilarious cartoon villains, The Devil's Possession remains nonetheless most readable. The pacing is well done and never falters and the narration is engaging. I believe the author has her technique down pat. Now all that remains is for her to create believable characters and storylines without resorting to over-the-top exaggerated applications of clichés.

Rating: 70


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