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Old May 23 2011, 03:40 AM   #624
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

The Bedeviled turned out to be much better than I expected. The writing was cruder, and the characterization more superficial, than the last two novels I read. But as the novel progressed, the story became more absorbing, and the ending was terrific.

It seemed like a fairly conventional haunted-house story at the start: a somewhat unhappy family moves to a rural community in Ohio, and into the father's family home--a strange farmhouse with a very dark past (of course). One of the father's ancestors was a cavalry general in the American Civil War, and the leader of a Satanic cult. His ghost is still prowling around the area, seeking a new body to inhabit, and the cult's descendants are still following that old-time religion. Or are they?

Before long, all sorts of ghostly and demonic things are going on. But one of the novel's great strengths is its unreliable narrator. The story is told from the mother's first-person POV, and it's never clear if what she describes is really happening--if the supernatural shenanigans are real, or if she's just slowly going insane--or both.

It was pulp, but good pulp. It turns out the author had a thing for both the American Civil War, and titles that begin with "The Be-". He wrote two other novels, both set in the Civil War, The Besieged and The Beguiled, and the latter was adapted as a movie starring Clint Eastwood.

I give The Bedeviled three 's out of a possible four.

Next up: Hands of Lucifer (1987) by John Tigges.

No breathless blurbs on the cover this time, unfortunately.
An illusion--with intelligence! A malignant vision, with a will of pure evil!
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