Before The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, we had The Case Against Satan.
In this horror classic by Ray Russell, a young woman is starting to have violent fits that worry those around her. To the point that the local bishop and another priest step in to help her. Things prove to be in dire straights as they work to save her and her soul.
From the get-go, there is something off. There is a, for lack of a better term, bad vibe rolling off the pages. Something evil is lurking around the corner, which turns out to be something different than the reader is led to believe.
The two leading men of the cloth, Bishop Crimmings and Father Gregory Sargent are very different despite sharing similar occupations and faith. Crimmings is traditional and sure of his faith, while Sargent takes a modern (or at least, the 1960s take on modern) perspective and isn’t afraid to question anything. The debates between the two are surprisingly interesting for a non-christian reader. I was far more invested in the discussions than I thought I would be.
Honestly, I think the true horror in this novel comes from the humans less so than the devils. Namely, the events leading up to the possession. However, I can’t talk about it here because it will ruin the climax of the novel.
In fact, this is more of a psychological horror novel than The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. The scares come from discussions about humanity and souls rather than projectile vomit and heads spinning in 360°. It is gripping and unnerving in a quiet way, which when it comes to horror books, I simply adore.
You can see the influence this novel had on later horror novels. In particular, The Exorcist in regards to the priests.
It’s a quick read, or at least I found it to be so. I highly recommend it if you are looking to add to your Halloween library this year.