Two 'Horror World' Reviews: 'Olden' by James Newman and 'The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition' by William Peter Blatty

As someone who was blown away by his debut novel, Midnight Rain, I can tell you this much with certainty: A new book by James Newman is cause for celebration. Newman is one of my "go to" authors, one of a rare group of small-press writers (Brian Keene, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Jeff Strand are the others….) that never let me down. The worst of their books is generally better than the best of what the small-press usually has to offer, and even when money is tight, I know I can buy their latest and not suffer from buyer's remorse when I get around to reading it.  So, zombie-burnout be damned, I dove into Olden full-speed.

The story gets up and running immediately with a small group of people trapped in a room with ravenous "oldies" trying to beat down the door to kill them. Newman alternates chapters between the current story, with the trapped group trying to figure out how they're going to escape, and flashbacks, showing how they ended up there in the first place. The flashbacks are where Newman shines, using his gift for great characterization to flesh out and bring to life a cast that could have been cardboard cut-out victims. The story serves as a heartfelt elder-abuse parable, without being preachy or moralizing to the reader.

I've been beating the drum for James Newman ever since Midnight Rain was released in paperback. I've enjoyed everything he's written, and Olden is no exception. If you've read James Newman before, chances are that I don't need to sell you. If you haven't, give him a try… won't be disappointed.

Olden by James Newman; Delirium Books; 2011; $25.00 Signed & Numbered Hardcover, $4.99 eBook

— Dan Reilly

It's The Exorcist in a brand new hardcover edition. Go get it.

The Exorcist, one of the scariest books ever written that spawned what is arguably the scariest movie ever made. So if you do not already own a copy of this book then either you're new to this whole horror thing, or you're just not a real horror fan. Sorry but them are the breaks. If you're the former, well then howdy, welcome to the party and go get this book today. You can thank me later.

I can hear you now, "Hey I am a true horror fan and I do already own this book, so why would I want another copy?"  Did I forget to mention that author William Peter Blatty did the Stephen King The Stand with this? By that I mean he went back and changed a few things and added new bits so that for the first time this book gets his 100% seal of approval. Yeah, you heard me right; Blatty had the gall to rework his masterpiece. Did he make a classic even better, or should he have left it well enough alone?

Well thankfully, I can say that he's made a great thing even greater.  Now I won't give the new bits away completely, so you really need to read and experience them for yourself, preferably alone, in a dark room and right before bed. I will mention that a brand new character has been added to the story and surprise, surprise, he's a priest…or is he? Again, I'll leave that up to you to discover, but I thought his addition here was a worthy, and creepy, one.  In fact, while it has been some years since I read the original novel, and I might have missed or not noticed some new additions and clarifications, those that I did pick up on all worked well. More importantly, I never came across a part where I was left scratching my head muttering, "Now why did he have to go and add that?"

When all is said and done, this new edition of The Exorcist is a great read. The new additions don't really change the overall story, so it's still the same moody, atmospheric, character driven tale of a little girl possessed by evil, only now there are a few more layers and touches to the characters and the horror, and that's exactly how it should be. I can both easily and highly recommend this book to any and all horror fans.

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty; Harper; 2011; 379 pgs; $25.99 Hardcover, $9.99 eBook

— Brian Sammons