Hostage to the Devil
The Sinister Book That Truly Scared Me
by Fiona Dodwell
I grew up on the horror genre. As odd as that sounds, horror is in my DNA and some of my earliest childhood memories are full of thrilling scares. Whether it was spying as my older brother played his old VHS copy of Pet Semetary, or whether it was the multitude of ghost stories I devoured in creased, broken-spine library books, there was just something about fear in books and film that captured my attention – and never really let me go. I adore horror in all its forms.
I always come back to the same question, though: what’s the scariest book I have read? Let’s face it, not every promised “scary book” actually scares – even if it is a solid story and well written. Fear is such a personal, unique thing; a book that frightens someone else may leave me completely unaffected and vice versa. For me, I have always been most unnerved by the theme of demonic possession. Whether you are religious or not, whether you believe in demons or not, it is easy to see why these invisible, evil dark forces can unsettle readers. These beings can supposedly haunt homes – and people’s bodies – and have apparently existed from the dawn of time, seeking to ruin us as we go about our daily lives. They bring darkness where there is light, bleakness where there should be hope.
The book Hostage to the devil by Malachi Martin is the scariest book I have ever read and here’s the thing: it isn’t a fictional book. It is written as a non-fiction account of five contemporary possession cases in America. Now, even if you are sceptical of supernatural beings such as demons being real, the fact is, there have been cases across the world of people who have claimed they were either possessed by a demon – or witnesses to exorcisms ( a Catholic rite that still goes on today, to banish demons from people). You can (rightly) argue this using today’s psychology and understanding of mental health that there is no place in our modern world for belief in such a thing. Yet the stories in Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil may have you questioning your beliefs with ease because, honestly, he makes it sound so real, so convincing, so possible.
The people the author describes in his book are real, everyday people, like you and I. They worked with the author himself to tell their story, and he relayed it all in a book that is both chilling and unforgettable. What is surprising about some of the cases described in the book, is that so-called possession isn’t always a dramatic, horror-film drama of special effects. Sometimes it’s a moment of extreme unease, a voice that shouldn’t be there, movement within the shadows, a strange turn of personality. Simply put – you won’t find spinning heads in Malachi Martin’s book, but you will find fear in the mundane, and you will find terror in the unlikeliest places.
The five accounts in the book are each very different – people from different areas of the USA, of various ages, backgrounds and religious beliefs (or non-belief, in some cases) are described. This too left me unsettled….whatever it was that tipped these people into a dark abyss, it could really happen to anyone. Our lives could change at any given moment – sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.
The reviews on Amazon are just as unnerving. Most, of course, are simply reviews containing a few words about their impressions of the book and quality of writing, however, dig deeper and you will find some readers who were left very frightened by the book. There are mentions of people feeling something in their room when reading. One reviewer even mentions having to leave the book in a different room to where they slept because it scared them. One reader mentions hearing unnatural noises after purchasing the title. Is it just imagination going into overdrive? Likely it is.
Whatever your opinions are on the idea of possession, (whether you are a cynic who scoffs and laughs at the idea, or a believer in the spirit world) I feel this book has the power to get under your skin. If it makes you comfortable, read it as fiction. Whichever way you read it, whichever way you look at it, I highly recommend it if you love a scary read.
After all of my years reading book after book, looking for something that will truly frighten me, I have to say, Hostage to the Devil achieved it. It’s a book that stuck with me long after I set it down. It’s a book I felt touched by, and not in a good way. It gets into your mind and stays there, like a half-hidden shadow that won’t leave. Most of us feel too old and too wise to be afraid of the Devil; in this modern world, we have caricatured him to such lengths that we’d more likely laugh at a depiction of him than fear him or his minions.
However, he’s a character built into our psyche from a young age. We grew up on tales at school of biblical wars between the good and bad. Hostage to the Devil is a book that takes us back to that wide-eyed journey and makes you ask the question now as you may have back then…. what if?
Fiona Dodwell is a published horror author and freelance writer for several websites and magazines. She has had articles published with Haunted Magazine, Made in Shoreditch Magazine and many more. She has studied Theology, Film Studies and psychology.
Fiona runs a blog which features author/actor interviews, as well as reviews over on Fiona-Dodwell
Follow Fiona on Twitter @Angel_Devil982
Madison Walter thought she had everything.
A good job. A perfect husband. A baby on the way.
When a terrible tragedy turns her life upside down, Madison knows things will never be the same again.
Intent on saving her marriage, she joins her husband on a luxury trip abroad. However, a week in the sun turns into an abyss of despair and horror.
Can Madison save her life, her sanity and her family before it’s too late?