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Friday, December 19, 2008

“Elsewhere” by William Peter Blatty (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Order “ElsewhereHERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: William Peter Blatty is the legendary author of The Exorcist and the subsequent screenplay for which he won an Academy Award. He has also written The Ninth Configuration, Legion, and many other books and screenplays, as well as working as a film producer & director.

PLOT SUMMARY: “You’ve lined up Anna Trawley, the world-famous psychic; the renowned Dr. Gabriel Case of NYU, the authority in all such matters, smile-smirk; the four of us then spend a few nights in the house, and while Trawley and Case take baths in the vibes and discover nothing ghostly or unusual whatever, I observe, making copious notes, of course, and then I write a little shitty-witty article about it that thoroughly debunks the idea that it’s haunted; your pipe-smoking bathroom incubus prints it, the house’s reputation is now Caesar’s wife and you sell it and get filthier rich than ever. Does that sum it up fairly, my Angel of the Closings?”

—A succinct summarization by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Terence Dare of Joan Freeboard’s master plan to sell a house that is reportedly haunted.

CLASSIFICATION:Elsewhere”, described as “disturbing, unsettling, chilling”, is a haunted house novel in the vein of The Turn of the Screw, The House on Haunted Hill and The Others, but is “laced with a nasty streak of dark humor”…

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 224 pages divided over three Parts, twelve chapters and an Epilogue. Narration is in the third person via Joan Freeboard, Terence Dare, Anna Trawley, etc. Features a stunning cover by award-winning photographer
Bruce Haley (Time, Life) and haunting interior illustrations by Alex McVey (Stephen King, Joe Lansdale). “Elsewhere” is self-contained and will be published by Cemetery Dance in three different editions: 1) A Trade Edition bound in full-cloth with full-color dust jacket artwork. 2) A Slipcased Limited Edition of 350 signed and numbered copies. 3) And a Traycased Lettered Edition of 52 signed and lettered copies bound in leather with satin ribbon page marker.

Elsewhere” originally appeared in the “999: New Stories of Horror & Suspense” (1999) anthology edited by
Al Sarrantonio.

ANALYSIS: If you’ve seen one haunted house movie, then you’ve pretty much seen them all. The same can also be said for reading a haunted house story and William Peter Blatty’sElsewhere” is no exception. Even so, despite the book’s familiarity, “Elsewhere” is still a highly rewarding experience…

First and foremost, the writing is just superb marked by deft characterization, cunning prose, and some excellent dialogue, particularly the comical interaction between Joan Freeboard and Terence Dare. Most impressive of all is though how much Blatty packs into the book. At barely over 200 pages, “Elsewhere” is really more of a novella than a novel, yet the book doesn’t skimp in any one area, which is a testament to the author’s ability to get the most out of his words.

And secondly, even though “Elsewhere” utilizes a number of conventional haunted house plot devices—a psychic, séances, Ouija boards, a house’s dark and tragic history, et cetera—Blatty makes up for it with not one, not two, but three shocking twists that will make the reader want to immediately read the book again and see what was overlooked the first time around…

CONCLUSION: As far as haunted house stories go, William Peter Blatty’sElsewhere” is not particularly scary or original. It also felt a bit outdated, but considering that it was first published in 1999, that’s understandable. Nevertheless, Mr. Blatty really knows how to spin a tale, and considering that it’s been over ten years since William last released a new book, fans of the author will definitely want to pick this up. Additionally, “Elsewhere” would make an excellent introduction to anyone not yet familiar with the work of William Peter Blatty


Plinydogg said...

Thanks for getting this review up. I've been wondering about this book...

Robert said...

You're welcome :) I think it's worth picking up if you're a fan of the author...

Plinydogg said...

I've actually never read anything by the author, coming late as I did to the horror genre party.

I love haunted house tales but I can't say that I the Exorcist was my favorite movie or anything...

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