Book Review

The Exorcism of Little Billy Wagner

I received a free copy of this book from Booktasters in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Exorcism of Little Billy Wagner by Francis J. Flynn is a surprisingly amusing novel. When 12 year-old Little Billy Wagner (who isn’t exactly little) starts showing signs of demonic possession, his parents don’t know what to do. Doctors can’t seem to figure out the problem, so his parents seek out assistance from the Catholic Church. The Archbishop (always in capitols) is ever vigilant in the war against Satan, and he’s ready to lend a helping hand. He assigns Father Leopold Mackenzie to determine if the boy is indeed possessed. But Father Leo has his hands full. He’s focusing on getting back to a parish in Bolivia where he worked in the past with another priest and his domesticated llama, Monty. Veronica, a beautiful new convert, often distracts him from his priestly work. Monsignor Krebs foists his duties onto Father Leo, so that he can drink and watch classic movies all day. When Father Leo visits with Little Billy, he determines that possession does seem likely, but to follow protocol, he wants to get an independent evaluation, turning to a strange Jesuit psychiatrist, Father Caspar Wieland, MD/PhD/SJ. But The Archbishop has other plans. He gathers an exorcism team, including Monsignor Krebs, also known as Krazy Krebs due to his actions during The River City Delirium Tremens Burro Incident, and prepares to present his case to the Vatican. Father Leo races to gather the appropriate evidence while The Archbishop rushes to prevent the devil from gaining traction in the heartland of America.

I love the way the author described things:

“The Archbishop was a jowly man. His jowls had jowls. He was shorter than average, with a heavy plinth of a body, nearly parted, thinning white hair; lusterless blue eyes, and wire-rimmed glasses. He reminded one of a no-neck high-school football coach (who sold life insurance on the side).”

“The gently rolling waters reflected the dark forest green of the overhanging tress and the golden rays from the noon sun high above. The foliage of the intertwining trees almost blocked out the urban landscape behind them. The forest was not just teeming with one shade of green, but there were lighter Kelly greens on the willowy leaves that draped into the water, dark olive green on the elm and oak leaves, and pine green on the tall scraggly conifers.”

Often, the author made me laugh by altering common names of places or people, such as describing one character as working at a popular chain restaurant called “Orangebee’s” or a popular movie made depicting an exorcism starring “Drew Tarrymore.”

I did note a number of spelling and grammar errors, and inconsistencies in the writing, such as alterations in the spelling of one character’s name from “Caspar” to “Casper” throughout the book. There is a connection made between Wiccan practices and devil worship, but as far as I know, there is no actual connection between the two. Overall, the book is a great read. I tend not to enjoy books about supernatural forces or church politics, but since the book also had a humorous overtone, I gave it a chance. I’m glad I did, because this was an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it. It had surprisingly funny content, most of the characters were likable, and there were some surprising twists.

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