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Book Review: William Peter Blatty’s “Elsewhere” October 2, 2010

Posted by ambrosestolliker in Book Reviews.
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Anyone who’s read The Exorcist knows that William Peter Blatty is a gifted storyteller and a consummate pro. I really enjoy his plain, down to earth writing style. The Exorcist was the first of Blatty’s books I ever read, like many people. However, I recently had the chance to read a great Cemetery Dance edition of Elsewhere, a terrific haunted house story.

What I liked: The novel reminded me a great deal of Richard Matheson’s Hell House and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. That’s pretty good company to be in. The story follows a similar premise – a group of eclectic individuals go into a haunted house in an attempt to see whether it is still haunted. Of course, each of the characters goes into the house – known as Elsewhere – with their own pieces of emotional baggage. As in any good haunted house story, that baggage and their individual flaws are what drive the narrative forward at an ever increasing pace. Elsewhere is a short novel – tight, I would say, which helps instill the story with a sense of urgency. There were no wasted words in this one. As always with Blatty, the dialogue is crisp and colloquial. The characters are strong and well developed, and I ended up caring about what happens to each of them not too far into the book. The story having a strong female protagonist – a rarity in horror writing so often – also made the book believable and easy to digest.

What I didn’t like: I thought the Serlingesque twist ending was a bit too predictable, too well telegraphed. It felt a little bit beneath Blatty’s fine craftsmanship in his other books and stories. Don’t worry, good reader, I won’t spoil it for you.

So, since it’s October and Halloween is just around the corner, I recommend you pick up a copy of Elsewhere, sit down with a good cup of coffee and dim the lights (but don’t strain your eyes, please.) It’s a good yarn.

Yours,

A.S.

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