Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream (2014) Floating In and Out of Suffering

Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream (2014) Floating In and Out of Suffering

Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream (2014) Floating In and Out of Suffering; told through an experimental narrative, a young mother on the verge of death is visited by the voice of a young boy asking to scan her memories, to find when the ‘worms’ first appeared.

Spoiler Warning* For The Fever Dream Book Review

This leads the woman, Amanda, to recount the last few days at a vacation home, her run-in with another mother with a dark story, and the reflections on her own role as a mother of the young Nina.

All the while, the reader is slipping in and out of the story between conversations with the young boy. Fever Dream is a surreal and deeply disturbing tale of sickness and the trials of motherhood.

The most terrifying thing in Samantha Schweblin’s debut novel is the complete breakdown of a mother’s ability to protect her child as she slowly begins to lose control of her body.

The novel speaks often of this concept of an invisible tether that binds the mother to her child to always keep a safe distance in case anything happens. The way that Schweblin explains the way Amanda keeps this in mind, releasing it or drawing it tighter depending on the scenario gives a constant sense of pervasive unease as she longs to draw her child close but lacks the ability.

As someone who has not experienced motherhood, it is an effective way to convey the invisible bond that you experience with your own family or friends who have kids.

Fever Dream cuts to the most intense fear any parent can have, not just losing one’s own kid but losing the ability to protect the one you cherish most.

Adding to the sense of dread is a story steeped in obscure folklore, soul transference, and an idea of an incompatible disease defining a small town controlling the way it runs. There are certain scenes introduced that show the area that Amanda chose to stumble on has built their town around acceptance of the death of mind and body due to some disease that afflicts their children.

The way the prose tackles the story, flowing in and out, allows quick glances into key moments in Amanda’s nightmare.

For a short novel, Samanta Schweblin manages to convey suffering on a large scale, both personal and cultural suffering.

The land is poisoned to its core and Amanda gets involved in an inescapable nightmare of a lifetime of others feeding into superstition.

Fever Dream is published in English through Riverhead Books.

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream (2014) Floating In and Out of Suffering” was written by Adam Symchuk.

 

 

Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole (2017) – Trapped in Ones Mind

Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole (2017) – Trapped in Ones Mind

After a car crash, Ogi awakens to find himself barely alive, caught in a vegetative state unable to communicate or move. After learning from the doctors that his wife did not survive the crash his sole surviving family member, his mother-in-law, begins to take care of his every need. However, when she discovers her daughter’s notes that point to past transgressions of Ogi. The mother-in-law begins odd obsessive behavior which aims to push Ogi to the brink of insanity — left to slowly rot with minimal care.

Being judged for one’s own actions can be a horrifying experience in itself, let alone adding in the nightmare of being trapped in a broken body unable to defend oneself against the onslaught. Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole is a horror/thriller existing in this realm of perverse uncomfortableness, having a caregiver slowly transform into a menacing force with full control over the life of another.

The book has been compared to books like Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Stephen King’s Misery.

And one can push even so far as to say it challenged the depressing body horror of titles like Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun.

While the book does capitalize on the unease and horrors that come with captivity, both in one’s own body and by an exterior force, The Hole is unlikely to reach the same level of accolades heaped upon the previously mentioned titles. However, that does not mean the book is without merit or that it pales in comparison of a familiar formula.

*Slight spoilers ahead

Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole, undeniably, excels at capturing the waking nightmare of slow, meticulous abuse at the hands of another. Ogi’s internal struggles, a mix of reflecting on the past and trying to rationalize the current scenario he is in, paints a really tragic portrait. This is also heightened by the character’s humanity, as a man who is aware of the mistakes he made and is still trying to do well. As his mother-in-law learns of his marital problems the reader is aware of the narrative, as she understands it, is very one-sided.

Furthermore, Ogi is aware that his actions were wrong but also that his wife was not without blame. This is approached in a very mature practical manner, as Ogi explores the harsh reality that sometimes people just drift apart. Notably, the image he had of his wife when they first fell in love faded as they changed, him finding her dull and uninspiring is not so much born out of cruelty but two people drifting apart. Ultimately, The highlight of the novel has to be Hye-Young Pyun’s exploration of  Ogi as a character through internal dialogue, painting the portrait of a man who does not deserve punishment, yet can also be seen as deserved from a third party.

However, where The Hole begins to slightly falter is in the development of other characters and dialogue, the change from self-reflection to being present in the room with others never holds the same profundity of Ogi stuck in dark ruminations. The mother-in-law, though intimidating feels more like the embodiment of justice over being a character unto herself.

There are also moments of narrative convenience, and even the set-up of the mother-in-law finding the notes of her daughter seems a bit contrived, in the sense she meticulously collected and recorded any argument, action, or negative word that she felt reflected her husband poorly. His status among peers and not having any family of his own also feels shoehorned in to capture that sense of isolation in an immediate fashion. It does make the situation grave and more tragic, yet Ogi can feel very one-dimensional at points due to the ambiguity of the situation and his lack of personal life beyond his wife.

*Spoilers end

Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole is a deeply engaging read, that will draw fans of thrillers in with its frightening scenario and dread-inducing prose in exploring internal dialogue. It does feel a bit rough around the edges and some of the scenarios feel contrived and underdeveloped, but the overall experience is one of extreme discomfort that is certain to make the right reader squirm in all the right ways.

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole (2017) – Trapped in Ones Mind” was written by Adam Symchuk.

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review

Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review Written By Lisa Lebel

Jean Luc & Anna Lise : A Novel of The Napoleonic Wars, by A.G. Cullen is a harrowing tale following three main characters through the harsh realities of the French Revolution.

The following Book Review of Jean-Luc & Anna Lise has Spoilers*

The novel opens with Jean-Luc and his dearest friend Adrien, on the day that enemy soldiers come to Colmar to execute their village priest. Shortly after this shocking event, Adrien’s sister, Anna Lise, is born. After only a short glimpse of their joyful beginnings, Jean-Luc and Adrien vow to join the emperor’s army once they are old enough – and thereafter embark on a journey that is all the more heart wrenching in its reality of the times.

Despite this book weighing in at a shocking 668 pages – at first glance one may assume this to be a ponderous tome of a novel. However, A.G. Cullen manages to have this tale be fast-paced and compelling throughout the entirety of the novel. The gut-wrenching horrors of the Napoleonic War seen through the eyes of one solider, brings to life the shocking reality of the times. While it is so easy to distance ourselves from what we read in the history books, this tale delivers an unflinching account of the life of a solider in 19th century Europe. Through the eyes of Jean-Luc Calliet, A.G. Cullen shows readers what it was like to be young and in love, while your country and comrades are falling to pieces all around you.

One of the more poignant takeaways from this novel was living with the horror and moral conflict of being ordered by your captain to commit unspeakable acts or be killed as a traitor yourself. Experiencing the shock of realizing your comrades in arms are sometimes more of a danger than the actual enemy, and seeing your fellow soldiers commit unspeakable brutalities is something that reading a historical account of the war simply cannot provide. Attempting to travel through a war-ridden country without being molested is nearly impossible, and there is equal danger no matter who you’re fighting for.

This novel is outside of this reviewer’s wheelhouse and likely not one I would have picked up on my own randomly, but I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Readers may find this similar to the Outlander series, with none of the time travel aspects or ridiculously sappy romance elements. But, in the respect of following individual persons through historical events – it definitely shines in that aspect. While Outlander is geared mostly towards women in the overly romantic setting as well as time travel – most of the action and intrigue of seeing actual historical events play out through the eyes of individuals is drowned out by these aspects. Jean-Luc has none of these distractions and gives an actual historical depiction of the life of the solider during these distressing times. Interspersed between chapters are also illustrations and maps of where the wars or battles are taking place, which is certain to remind readers that the events depicted in this novel did indeed occur, adding gravity to the tale.

In closing, Jean-Luc & Anna Lise is an excellently written novel that is both compelling and heart wrenching, and certainly worth checking out!

 

The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Jean-Luc & Anna Lise by A.G. Cullen Book Review” Was Written By Lisa Lebel.

 

 

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey

Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather forwards an odyssey undertaken by Gwendy who was just twelve when she was made caretaker of a device that impacted her world and ours: it was the rewarding, dangerous and beguiling Button Box.

Gwendy’s Magic Feather is the second book in the Gwendy Series.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

Gwendy’s Magic Feather surprises and chills, like a Maine snowdrift.

There is a great crime element in this book, a touch of macabre in both well-lit scenes and ones in the frozen darkness, and a lot of brooding suspense led by the intrinsic character of Gwendy.

The first book in the series is Gwendy’s Button Box, co-authored by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, and if you have NOT read Gwendy’s Button Box, STOP HERE and go read that novella now! Not later. I do not care what format, reading is reading with it be via hologram, audiobook, or good old-fashioned paper, made from trees, that smells nice.

Here is a SPOILER WARNING** for the Preceding Book, Gwendy’s Button Box.

If you have read Gwendy’s Button Box, but it was not one of your favorite books, or it did not really move you, I highly recommend a second read if you like the character of Gwendy.

The second book in the series Gwendy’s Magic Feather brings new wonders and dangers to Gwendy, now 37, whose world is a whirlwind when the Button Box returns.

There are disturbing disappearances going on in Castle Rock, and melee in the world at large, and the character of Gwendy feels ever more intensely as she attempts to ward off the temptation of the Button Box.

The suspense simmers to a boil through her keen eyes.

Let us go back Back to Gwendy’s Button Box for a minute, as it is vital to understanding the 37-year-old Gwendy that appears in Chizmar’s novel.

Gwendy speaks with a stranger, a man with a felt hat, at age 12 who asks her to guard a precious object.

Put particular emphasis on these things: Gwendy lured beyond recall and the Button Box (and Farris, possibly) in the end caused the Jonestown massacre.

Now examine the character of a person who, despite being told her caretaking of the Button Box has rewards, is savvy enough to believe that there is a cost too and so she does not abuse the power she inherits.

Think of the temptation for a young person, who is being bullied and has high aspirations (that the 1891 Morgan silver dollars help with) to not use the compelling buttons that call to her.

She still makes mistakes and others, as well as herself, suffer for them; she is human and this realness permeates the reader.

Gwendy has such strong feelings of empathy, despite a dim world, and so she grows up and is a strong woman that can tackle anything.

All of the4se qualities help to shape the Gwendy we meet in the second book of the series.

Gwendy’s Magic Feather is a modern fairy tale fit for the Brothers Grimm updated to slice like a twentieth century switchblade!

So what does happen when an older Gwendy is returned the Button Box amidst far greater perils?

Spoiler Warning for Gwendy’s Magic Feather**

To start off the book, we meet an older Gwendy in Washington D.C.

Surprise!

Gwendy’s sharp intuition and skill makes her a successful writer and then, in a sudden fit of obligation to her country and her home state of Maine – and the encouragement of others begging her to run – she miraculously unseats a deplorable Congressman in her district.

Sadly more lecherous old Congressmen and a dangerously enraged President makes life as a US Representative challenging.

The world created in the Gwendy-verse feels too real at times, bringing its own amount of horror with that realness.

We can see the Washington meetings. We can smell the unknown plots lurking in some of the politicians’ shadows.

Congresswoman Gwendy Peterson is a beacon of kindness and candor in Congress where these traits light up amidst the ever-growing shadowy spaces besieging Washington.

The extraordinary journey that began as a “palaver” with a mysterious man named Richard Farris in a sharp suit and felt hat at the top of Castle Rock’s Suicide Stairs 25 years earlier has become a memory, floating but distant.

The once kind and witty Gwendy of age 12 – the first time she held the Button Box – is still a kind and witty person, because that is her charm, even as she is beset by dangers to her home town, the Capitol, the world, and her family.

And so, for the first time in 15 years, the Button Box reappears to Gwendy . . . sans Farris.

Where is he?

The vivid memories come back strongly and a thought torments Gwendy: what role has the Button Box played in the outcomes of her life, of her successes and failures? Were they just paths she carved on her own?

Much of this is a “who knows?” inner monologue that goes on throughout the book.

We feel for Gwendy as guilt clouds her mind and her strong demureness is rattled by the uncertainty of what she has done in her life – did she act because she wanted to or what things did she do that may have just as a result of holding the talisman, the Button Box.

She does not lose her sense of self, even as she doubts her past, present, and future deeds, which is admirable.

But you feel for her self-doubt that is ever-torturing until the very end of the book.

Where is the man who said she would never see the Button Box again? Where was the bearer of the blessing and/or curse? Where was Richard Farris?

All the while, Gwendy’s husband is away across the world in a dangerous city bordering on implosion; that stress looms large.

What can the Button Box do to help?

Gwendy’s mother collapses with a certain terminal diagnosis of cancer.

What can the Button Box do?

Two girls have just gone missing in Castle Rock, and Gwendy arrives on the scene.

What can the Button Box do?

The Button Box is its own character that crashes on the story and never lets up.

Gwendy’s mother was recently seen as cancer-free, and her parents brought out a long-lost treasure: Gwendy’s magic feather.

Once conned as a little girl, with all of the money she had saved for months to buy a “magic feather” from a young boy preying on tourists. The feather did not appear to have any magical properties once it was attained.

Then her mom collapses.

Dying in the hospital, Gwendy slips her mom chocolates from the Button Box.

There is a miraculous recovery the next day, but her mom also has the magic feather in her hand.

It must have been the feather her parents think.

Amidst the search in the town, Gwendy acts and thinks more like one of the sheriffs than she does a Congresswoman and she dislikes the mark of any celebrity labels.

Before the Button Box had with the pull of a lever delivered delicious chocolates that improved all of the senses and gifted, for a time some of the things the holder of the Box desired; for Gwendy, she initially wanted to lose weight and as she got older she kept the box dispatching mint condition 1891 Morgan silver dollars so she could afford to go to an Ivy League college.

But the Button Box has a price behind each gift, and the lure of the buttons grows stronger and overriding with each use.

Still, when Gwendy gets a kind of shine to her and she can read into the memories of someone she touches, the psychopath behind the missing girls is spotted, as is a crushed felt hat amidst the darkness in the Maine snow.

Castle Rock is an infamous place in Stephen King’s works, and Richard even inserts a statue where a great fire once ran rampant in the infamous town.

But this is also the Gwendy-verse, and Chizmar expands it brilliantly.

Only in the end does Richard Farris come back to claim the Button Box again.

But he does finally assure Gwendy that she is special, a caretaker, but she has also made her life’s accomplishments on her own.

The possibly evil giver of power, in Farris, seems to have a soul in there.

END of SPOILER WARNING*

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If you look at this book as a casual, fun page-turner you will like it, but there is so much more to Gwendy if you try to observe her.

Gwendy is like no character I know of and her stories are a great example of contemporary speculative fiction that delves its own niche far into the realms of fiction.

There are thousands of years of stories based around good and not-so-good people being given choices with consequences and rewards that weigh on the conscience, the humanity.

But this one has a flair, a moral, and a character like no other.

Richard Chizmar brilliantly grows Gwendy’s story arc. And come the end the reader is left wanting to follow along with her as her odyssey continues.

Let’s examine the book’s editions!

Both the small press publication of Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Cemetery Dance Publications and the signed-limited edition by SST Publications are sharp!

The Cemetery Dance edition has a beautiful texture to the boards with gold foil stamping and awesome cover art by Ben Baldwin and interior art by Vincent Sammy.

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review


The SST edition is illustrated, oversized, is signed by Richard Chizmar and all contributors, including the wraparound cover and interior artist Vincent Sammy, the author of the afterword Bev Vincent, and the Castle Rock mapmaker, artist Glenn Chadbourne; this is another stunner!

The quality of both editions, from the paper, to the boards, to the dust jackets make both of them worth having side by side.

castle rock, gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

gwendy's final task, gwendy's magic feather, gwendy's button box, stepehn king, richard chizmar, ben baldwin, cemetery dance, SST, limited edition, book review

The next book Gwendy’s Final Task, possibly the comclusion to the Gwendy Series, is co-authored by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, and comes out on February 15th, 2022.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Richard Chizmar’s Gwendy’s Magic Feather Forwards An Odyssey” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Box By Josh Malerman Shatters Minds With SST Brilliance

Bird Box By Josh Malerman Shatters Minds With SST Brilliance

Bird Box by Josh Malerman shatters minds with SST brilliance, as the author’s 2014 debut novel rattles all senses with the riveting tale like no other, so too, does SST Publications craft a signed limited numbered edition that is reminiscent of the book’s world, sharp and wonderfully haunting.

Civilization falls to chaos, as those who see something, some creature, go insanely violent on themselves and/or others: welcome to Bird Box.

There are few tales so poignant that you root for the characters so strongly you feel their utter incessant terror so strongly.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The following book review of Bird Box by Josh Malerman will contain *SPOILERS up until the fine press edition of the S/L book from SST is reviewed in detail.

Is Malorie insane?

Clearly the world she resides in has gone insane.

The mother of two debates taking a dangerous winter trip on a river toward a possible sanctuary.

They will be in a rowboat for twenty miles.

The boy and the girl are four, and they will have to risk going outside and traversing the river up to a section of rapids blindfolded the entire way.

The mother’s words are rough with the two children, stern, and candid: they must not take off their ‘folds’ no matter what happens.

Outside, unknown creatures cause madness upon sight of them.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

You see it and you lose it and go mortally violent; unless, of course, you are already mad yourself, and then you will welcome the embrace of the savior or cleanser or xenocidal force that has been unleashed on earth.

I had a feeling early into the novel that I had no idea what the creatures were and I might end the book without knowing what they were.

That idea is a tricky writer to reader relationship, to say the least (more on this later).

Aspects of the creatures accumulate: they could be small or enormous, they could be frequently stalking all humans, or sporadically invading city streets, row by row, they could be trying to touch, or scare blindfolded people into looking at them.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The unnerving loss of sight and the unknown haunting menace gives far more weight to the thrilling Bird Box than many of the great suspense novels out there.

The story flashes back and forth, from when Malorie first finds out she was pregnant and the subsequent unraveling of society and back to the dangerous river voyage.

As the world collapses, she escapes to a house that is a sanctuary, of sorts.

It has a well, electricity from a hydroelectric dam and a lot of stores for the half a dozen or so trying to live out the horror in a home with all the windows covered; for safety, no one sees the sky anymore.

The dynamics of the semi-democratic household full of realistic characters with great personalities and their own unnerving anxieties – that decide when or when not to take in someone like Malorie, a showing pregnant woman that will be two mouths to feed before long – are enthralling.

Malorie’s love for another grows, as the housemates struggle to adapt and get along and progress.

Can the landline, not powered by electricity but by a weak electrical signal in a phone cord, let them reach others who have survived with their sanity intact.

For a long time, I thought the birds would be the monsters in the book.

But it is the finding of a cardboard box full of birds at an abandoned home that brings a real-time alarm, a chirping warning system, for when the creatures get close that is essential to surviving.

Only Malorie and her children survive the house, and the birds, and together they march on to a place that someone on the phone says is a real sanctuary for any who can make it up the river to them.

The place is protected and full of good people.

And so Malorie waits until she deems the kids can understand enough to take the trip in the rowboat and she risks it all.

Getting to her destination by route of that damn river is so nerve shredding!

Sure, there are creatures, but there are also animals living in the wooded region that you forget about in the apocalyptic times, like wolves that attack and badly injure Malorie.

She even passes out and wakes to find her kids have learned to each row a paddle, in tandem.

Nothing was more creepy or intense than actually getting to the sanctuary and seeing through Malorie’s eyes as she risks it and takes off the fold and assesses whether or not the place is a trap or a real safe zone for her and the kids.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

Your stomach will tighten and spasm with fear, as the worst seems inevitable.

But that is Malorie’s view, of fear, and not the reality, and when she realizes they are all safe it is one of the most beautiful moments in literature – I got choked up.

She had never named the boy or girl, her kids, and the entire novel they are called ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ so that Malorie upon getting them to safety names them, finally, for the girl’s mother who died in the house giving birth at the same time Malorie birthed her son, and she names him after her love that she met in the house.

And after all of the non-stop page turning full of realism, blood, tension, terror, and time that goes by in the grim world, the reader does not get to find out what the creature is.

And it works brilliantly.

*SPOILERS END here.

The SST Publications limited edition of Bird Box by Josh Malerman is marvelous and the fine press production is reviewed here.

The book is signed by the author, Malerman, and artist Ben Baldwin and has a limitation of 400 copies.

And this book is stunning to behold.

The SST Bird Box cover art and dust jacket is one of the wildest designs I have ever seen!

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

The child is wearing the blindfold and hearing the world shown: their trip on the river, the flying birds, the forest and the rickety speaker setup – the lone semblance of society – and of course blue tone for the cold and the water, and lots of darkness wherein the mysterious creature could be anywhere.

And that is just the dust jacket art. The design wraps around and even goes all the way to the folded in parts at the boards – it looks amazing and would make a great poster.

The six illustrations by Baldwin are remarkable and visceral, and my favorite, by far, is of the screams as the poor home owner goes mad, tied to his chair; it gives me the shivers.

Bird Box, josh malerman, sst publications, limited edition, sl, signed limited, ben baldwin, thriller, horror

SST’s Bird Box edition is a perfect emanation of Josh Malerman’s story within.

The clothbound book is sturdy and a gorgeous light blue with blue foil stamping.

This is one for the ages.

As my first voyage into SST Publications, I could not be more impressed with the UK fine press publisher.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“Bird Box by Josh Malerman shatters minds with SST brilliance” was written by R.J. Huneke.

 

 

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet

The Exorcist By Blatty S/L by Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet fine presses provides one of the world’s most terrifying and thrilling novels an exceptional book reading experience.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist By William Peter Blatty is an all-time great work of fiction.

This cannot be understated; the writing, the tale, the characters are all remarkable.

The film adaptation that Blatty was a part of will forever be a classic, as well, but the novel adds so much more to the brilliant characters, the shocking story, and the uniquely personal detective work.

The following book review of The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition will have mild Spoilers** that will end with the story review and the start of a fine press book review of each of the Holy Trinity: The Exorcist signed and limited editions by Gauntlet Press, Lonely Road Books, and released this year, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this iconic masterpiece of horror and paranormal suspense, Suntup Editions.

I have a favorite! But now back to the The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition book review!

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For those who have read The Exorcist, but not the revised edition, I highly encourage you to take up the endeavor.

On September 27, 2011, The Exorcist was re-released as a 40th Anniversary Edition in hardcover, paperback and audiobook featuring new and revised material. Of this edition, Blatty wrote:

“This will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were inevitable — plus one new character in a totally new, very spooky scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for.” [Suntup.press]

From the eerie and ominous opening of the book, we touch on foreshadowing and evil and duty for Father Lankester Merrin, as he meets with a dear friend.

An ancient Assyrian idol of the demon Pazuzu has been found at Merrin’s archaeological dig in northern Iraq.

And this creepy and poignant chapter, the sweat that runs from the elderly Jesuit priest in the full light of the sun spilling over the desert, bespeaks an impending battle, and what may be strife in the spiritual battleground and the physical one.

He must leave his dear friend and go back to the US. Some goodbyes are heartbreaking.

Blatty leaves Merrin behind for much of the book and focuses on a little girl named Regan in Washington D.C.

She is possessed; there is no spoiler there, folks.

Blatty was originally inspired by the story of the demonic possession of a child in the 1940s.

Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of Chris, a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. for a film, lives in a creepy old house overlooking a terribly long and narrow stairway outside.

The murder of Chris’ producer, who is found at the bottom of the stairs with his head turned all the way around – quite unnaturally – begins an investigation into the family in the house.

Welcome one of the most fun detectives in fiction: Lt. William Kinderman!

He is an older man, who is jovial, polite, and so very sly and intuitive with regards to human behavior and reactions.

Because the film producer was murdered after he was in Chris’ home, Kinderman has no choice but to thoroughly investigate every occupant of the house, as well as the visiting Jesuit priest Father Damien Karras, who he befriends in part for company and in part to get information out of him.

This is a thrilling, and at times humorous, cat and mouse game, as the two speak and meet again and again.

Meanwhile, Chris, an atheist, is upset as her daughter quickly dissolves before her into what she thinks is multiple personality disorder.

Regan speaks in other languages, lashes out at her doctors, is shriveling away physically, and even makes her entire bed tremble, as if there was an earthquake.

Aside from locking up Regan in an institution, which Chris will not do, one of the psychiatrists suggests that Regan may think she is possessed and so an exorcist may provide a psychosomatic cure.

Father Carris tries desperately to build a case to the Church for exorcism, but Regan’s time is running out.

**Spoilers END here

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty is truly something special – there is no work of fiction like this.

The research involved in writing this book was extensive, the writing could not be better, and the eerie world is so real, it scares the hell out of me to this day.

And that is my guess as to why the 71-week bestseller is considered one of the most controversial books of all time.

To pay homage to this classic work of literature, I will review the three small press publishers that crafted S/L editions containing Blatty’s preferred fortieth anniversary text, and I will review in the order they were published before I compare the three, Gauntlet, Lonely Road, and Suntup, limited editions.

The Exorcist by Blatty gets the grand fine press treatment it deserves

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition 

First released was the interesting Gauntlet Press edition that has a signature sheet for the 25th Anniversary and a publication page for the text version, the 40th Anniversary (I do not know why and am so curious about that).

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

It is a beautiful book that was limited to 600 copies with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson who signed it, as well as Blatty.

Only the lettered, which I do not have got illustrations in the book, but I will say that the cover art of this book is my favorite of any trade or small press dust jacket art that I have seen.

It is black, simple, elegant, and the warped image of Regan in the light symbolizing a cross is, to many, disturbing.

The boards are a fun iridescent sable cloth too and the pages are of a nice quality.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The Exorcist: The Fortieth Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty Signed and Numbered Limited Made By Lonely Road Books

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

Lonely Road Books produced a phenomenal edition of the work in an oversized 7.5” x 10.5” to highlight the stunning original art by Caniglia.

This edition was limited to 374 numbered and signed by Blatty!

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The dust jacket is gorgeous, but I prefer the white faux leather boards and red foil stamping sans dj.

The slipcase is crimson with gold foil stamping and the paper is quality, though not as thick in the hand as the Gauntlet or the Suntup.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

The artwork in the book is the real highlight, aside from the author’s preferred text and signature, of course.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

This art is tied for my favorite (with the Suntup), and it has a ton of illustrations and I think more than any other illustrated edition to date.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

It is a sight to behold!

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Numbered Edition By Suntup Editions

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

To celebrate the 2021 50th anniversary of the great book, Paul Suntup and his team went all out to deliver one of the most celebrated numbered editions of The Exorcist and of their own outstanding lineup.

Suntup’s numbered version of The Exorcist is a bar setter.

With William Peter Blatty deceased, his close friend, a man he called his “brother” director of The Exorcist film William Friedkin penned the introduction and signed the book, as well as the marvelous artist Marc Potts.

Getting the award winning director to talk about the book and to sign this edition is nothing short of amazing.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

But what is more, the intricate Jesuit priest shirt and collar, done in two-color Japanese cloth, with a white paper tie, is out of this world amazing!

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition


“The EXORCIST by WILLIAM PETER BLATTY Suntup numbered edition unboxing” VIDEO by THE JEFF WORD


From Suntup’s description:

The Numbered edition of 250 copies is a handmade lapped component case binding constructed from purple and black Japanese cloth covers and purple folded single folio endsheets. It features foil stamped titling at the spine, a white Plike paper collar, flush mounted and wrapped at the head of the book, and is housed in a cigar-style enclosure covered in Japanese cloth. The edition is printed letterpress on Mohawk Via Vellum and is signed by William Friedkin and Marc Potts. Each copy of this edition is sewn and bound by hand. [Suntup.press]

This handbound gem has a smooth feel and an effervescent shine to the boards that catches the light in the most beautiful of ways.

The page type is outstanding, and the letterpress printing is truly the finest way to read the book.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

You can see the ink on the page so easily and you can feel the impression of each word or device that the letterpress stamped onto the page.

There is no experience like reading this edition of the book.

It is heavy, it is drool-worthy in its visual design, and the fine art illustrated by Marc Potts is by far the darkest of all the editions I have seen.

The artwork in the book is every bit as good as Caniglia’s and tied to be my favorite of all.

The Exorcist, suntup, lonely road books, gauntlet press, signed Blatty, William Peter Blatty, limited edition

And the cigar style case in the vestment purple and black cross insignia is a work of art in and of itself.

The overall transcendent edition of fiction for The Exorcist goes to the rarest of the S/L’s, the Suntup Editions numbered.

All of these books are incredible works of art that pay great homage to the work’s author, Blatty, and I recommend them all.


The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)


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“The Exorcist By Blatty S/L By Suntup, Lonely Road & Gauntlet” was written by R.J. Huneke.