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Reviewed by:
  • Possess
  • Claire Gross
McNeil, Gretchen. Possess. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2011. [384p]. ISBN 978-0-06-206071-6 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 9–12.

Ever since Bridget’s father was brutally murdered, Bridget has been able to see and hear demons and, under the tutelage of one of the priests from her Catholic school, exorcise them. The number of possessions is escalating, though, and the demons seem to recognize Bridget, even attempting to pass on to her a message that may have had something to do with her father’s death. McNeil draws on the tried-and-true dynamic of a girl with secret abilities attempting to simultaneously [End Page 94] save the world and maintain a semblance of normalcy. The demon possessions themselves lead to some inspired moments of camp, as when a wall full of possessed dolls escalates the hostilities from staring and winking (“plastic, porcelain, swaddled like infants, dressed like fairy queens and Disney princesses, Caucasian, black, Hispanic, Asian—a United Nations of horror”) to outright attack (“Bridget heard the smashing of glass and a series of bloodcurdling screams as . . . a Madame Alexander princess and two American Girls went flying past her head”). This falls short on emotional heft, though, failing to fully explore the issues of identity it raises or to imbue Bridget’s pivotal relationships (with friends, boyfriend, father, or brother) with much urgency. It also has a less complex mythology than Skovron’s Misfit (reviewed below), also built around a biracial Catholic schoolgirl trained by priests to fight demons. Still, the irreverent, teen-angsty narration, colored with Bridget’s snarky sense of the absurd, intrudes at all the right moments and twists the overblown plot into something with just enough self-awareness and snap to be more interesting than its premise.



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pp. 94-95
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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