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The Haunting

Paul Doherty


UK Paperback

ISBN 0-7472-5874-0

212 pages; £5.99

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2001



Historical horror is a small genre that for most readers begins and ends with Anne Rice's novels. But the prolific British author Paul Doherty is certainly set to give her a run for her money. In his latest paperback release, 'The Haunting', Doherty stakes out Victorian era London and its environs for the tale of an exorcist assigned to rid a country manor of an unpleasant infestation.

The action starts in London with a gripping prologue. Father Oliver Grafield is first seen confronting a nasty spirit in a slum house. Doherty fills the scene with detail and atmosphere, and his spirits are not humorous holograms floating through the air. After completing his first assignment, Grafield is asked by the Archbishop to exercise his talents in a country manor, where the owner has appealed to the Church for help. The terrifying apparitions and events are leaving her fearing for her life and soul.

It's well she should fear. Doherty does an excellent job of giving the reader insight into an alien entity that was once the soul of a human being. The segments written from the point of view of the evil haunting the mansion give this novel a truly terrorizing atmosphere. Its adversary, the exorcist Oliver Grafield, is equally well-portrayed. His knowledge of matters supernatural is slyly informed by modern psychic research rendered in the language and customs of Victorian era London. Doherty creates an almost science-fictional feel by his insistence that things make logical sense.

At 212 pages, 'The Haunting' is quick reading. However, Doherty manages to pack an entire world of detail into those pages, both historical and supernatural. There's certainly enough here to make the reader glad that Doherty leaves the door open for more adventures of the exorcist Oliver Grafield.