While everyone else is featuring YA Author Gretchen McNeil’s latest book, TEN, I’ve opted to do a review on her awesome debut novel POSSESS.


Possess by Gretchen McNeil

400 pages, Hardcover

Genre: YA Horror, Ages 13 and up

Published on August 21, 2012 by Balzer + Bray

ISBN-10: 0062060724

ISBN-13: 978-0062060723



Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear.  Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession.  But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons.  Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.



My Review

First Lines:

Bridget stared at the clock on the wall and cursed its painfully slow progression toward three fifteen. Was the big hand even moving? She slipped her cell phone out of her backpack for cross-reference. Damn. Seven more minutes. It was so like a Catholic school to make Latin the last class of the day. Institutionalized Purgatory.

These first lines don’t give a clue as to how much excitement this story really has, but it does give us a taste of the main character’s witty sarcasm and her unique voice.

And Bridget Liu is unique in so many ways. First, she’s a fifteen year-old girl who has no best girl friends. Instead, she hangs out with a geek whose crush on her borders on stalker, her gay best friend, and his crush of a jock. Second, she’s half-Chinese and half-Irish—and completely Catholic. Third, she’s had to deal with her dad’s mysterious murder, and lastly, she’s a teenage exorcist.

I don’t see too many Asian main characters in YA, so I was quite glad to discover that Bridget was part Asian. I could totally relate to Bridget’s school life, having gone to a Catholic school myself. And while I knew a little bit about the Catholic rites of exorcism, I was still pleasantly surprised to learn a few new things while reading the book.

Bridget is an intriguing character, one that all teens can easily identify with. Author Gretchen McNeil does a great job with dialogue and word choice. She makes Bridget sound exactly like a 15 year old, albeit, one who has to deal with a lot of things, including her mom’s dating life and her own newly discovered ability to talk to and banish demons.

San Francisco is the perfect setting for this paranormal story, what with all the fog and cold. Many scenes are set outside of Bridget’s house and school, so readers can get a feel for just how nightmarish the city can get. I was particularly creeped out by the scene set in the doll shop. Dolls in themselves are not at all scary, but combined with the author’s mastery of suspense and description, they can be really frightening.

The story in itself is fast-paced, and the plot twists and turns are ones which I could never have predicted. Even if I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to the horror genre, I found myself actually enjoying the story. It helped that there were light, funny moments scattered throughout, and that the usual YA love angle kept me on my toes.

If you’re looking for a Paranormal/Horror YA to get your pulse racing, this one’s for you. Suspenseful, mysterious, creepy and yes—fun, Possess is a book you need to read under the covers, preferably on a dark and stormy night, with a steaming mug of hot chocolate to warm your bound-to-be chilled insides.



Tune in this Wednesday for the 2nd installment in this Spotlight series, where I feature an interview with author Gretchen McNeil!

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7 Responses to “Spotlight Week: Possess by Gretchen McNeil, a Book Review”

  1. Heather H. says:

    That cover looks familiar to me, but I honestly don’t think I knew too much about POSSESS till now. Thanks for enlightening me with this review! I absolutely adore horror and don’t think there’s enough of it in YA anymore–I miss the days of Point Horror, sigh–so I’ll definitely have to check this book out sometime!

  2. I haven’t had a good scare in a while. Thanks for the rreview! I’ll put it on my TBR list.

  3. Southpaw says:

    Oooo, scary. Horror is fun.

  4. Elisa says:

    oooh, this sounds awesome, great review. I am going to look this one up :)

  5. How cool you got to meet Gretchen. Thanks for the thorough review. I think the the cover fairies have smiled down on her!

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. There was such creepy potential, but I couldn’t get past the characters. Both her love interest and her best friend guy were creepy stalkers, and she just kept hanging out with them. RUN, BRIDGET, RUN!

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