Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Premature Book Review: To the Devil a Daughter

Now, I did review this movie recently, and decided to get the book. It is... well, different. One must always add salt when dealing with the supernatural, but so far I am having a hard time with this one.

Now, we all know that the girl is possessed by the devil. Obviously. Just as we know Dracula is a vampire and Frankenstein's monster is a flesh golem. These are things you can wrap your head around. What I can't swallow is that seemingly normal people, in a world that is not at all fantastical, are so ready to believe that she is in fact possessed. She could be hypnotized, brainwashed, conditioned... any number of things, but when Molly Fountain, our heroine, throws a crucifix at the girl and she screams... Well, case closed.

Molly is joined by her son John and former wartime compatriot Colonel Verny, or "Conky Bill" (I don't get that one). Fountain and Verny have spent years fighting Satanic cults throughout Europe, and claim that Satanism's elite few are in fact behind global Communism.

Aside from the conspiracy theory, and the all-to-believing cast of characters, it could turn out very well. There is the evil Marquis de Grasse and his son Jules who are white-slavers, there is the suspicious Priest, who certainly will turn out to be the major baddie, and the girl's (Christina, btw) father, who is thus far absent. This has all the makings of a great mystery, it is just the ham-fisted way they get to the Satanic subject matter that troubles me. Granted, this was written in the late 1940's, but there was already a ton of great horror fiction around at this time, and I can't imagine this story not seeming passé, even upon release.

If you like pulp, or mysteries from the days of yore, check this one out. I am a hundred pages into it, and it is readable. I don't plan to give up on it, but it definitely has its flaws. Wheatley's prose is fine and well constructed. In most senses it is a solid novel, just a bit sophomoric.

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