The best books on demonic possession

2 authors have picked their favorite books about demonic possession and why they recommend each book.

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Come Closer

By Sara Gran,

Book cover of Come Closer

She’s either possessed by a particularly vicious spirit or just plain insane. Either way, I’ve never been able to forget the terrible things she does, although I read this so long ago, I can’t remember her name. It’s not gory; it’s eerie, and most of the horror is suggested rather than shown, meaning our own imaginations contribute to the impact. Ghost story or psychological horror, you decide.


Who am I?

If only they made good guys as complicated and fascinating as the baddies, maybe I wouldn’t be so drawn to the dark side. I mean, I liked Luke, and Leia, and Han, and I even wanted them to win, but Darth Vader—now, that was an interesting dude. Perhaps because they do and are what most of us can’t and aren’t, these antagonists benefit from writers who, consciously or not, do their best work when they create singular villains. What makes the “bad guy” tick? Is it circumstances, or choices? Are they someone you cannot even imagine being, or someone you can? And what does that say about us?


I wrote...

Break Her

By B.G. Harlen,

Book cover of Break Her

What is my book about?

"The moment she woke up, her nightmare began..." What would you do if you awakened to find a dangerous stranger in your house? In your bed, next to you? Now your home has become your prison, and your body, a battlefield. How would you hold onto your sanity, your self-esteem, your very soul against someone determined to annihilate all three?

In the psychological thriller Break Her, one woman will find herself in this almost unthinkable situation, and one man will discover that he has finally come up against someone unlike any of those he has destroyed before.

Bad Girls Don't Die

By Katie Alender,

Book cover of Bad Girls Don't Die

Bullies beware! Bad Girls Don’t Die features a vengeful poltergeist that possesses the little sister of protagonist Alexis Warren.

Alexis is a lonely misfit teenager on the fringes of her high-school social scene. Her home life isn’t much better as her mother’s desire for corporate success leads to regular dinner table conflict. The sisters find comfort in each other, but that’s when Alexis notices a change in her sibling Kasey. Subtle at first, Kasey’s transformation into a malicious psychopath sends Alexis into an investigation that reveals a small-town secret of a fatal bullying incident. 

Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is a story of sisterly bonds, secret pasts, and the sacrifices that are sometimes made to protect loved ones.


Who am I?

I grew up in the 80s, the era of horror super-franchises. Most would be familiar with Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween, but there were so many more. Oscar-winning films the decade prior like The Exorcist and Jaws ushered a new wave of new horror. Whether it was advancement in visual effects, or improvement in production, the genre was everywhere. And I couldn’t get enough. Those experiences have possessed my pen and continue to rule my reading choices. I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as I did. There’s a lot we can learn about ourselves when we’re scared.  


I wrote...

Mystic of the Midway

By A.A. Blair,

Book cover of Mystic of the Midway

What is my book about?

A pop-culture paranormal mystery that has scored extremely high with audiences during bedtime reading.

Effie knew she wasn’t the same after her accident but didn’t realize how different she had become until her family vacation. When Effie begins to hear whispers and have visions things get really strange! Effie finds a love letter to her mother that isn’t from her father! A strange mystery girl seems to follow her wherever she goes but vanishes before Effie can confront her. Even the rides in the amusement park begin to speak to her! Effie wonders; is she going crazy? Or, are all the things that are happening trying to tell her something?

The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty,

Book cover of The Exorcist

As monumentally terrifying as the film version is, the novel has some moments which easily rival the creepiness and revulsion of its cinematic counterpart. Actually, since reading a book requires extracting the image from the thought (whereas the film does the opposite), this makes The Exorcist novel just about as disturbing of an experience as can be had from reading.  


Who am I?

I grew up in a small town in Northern Florida. My family’s property was bordered by a stretch of forest which served as an adventure playground for my friends and me during the day. However, after dark, it turned into the foreboding landscape of the unknown. Many backyard camping attempts were abandoned with hysteria because of the noises we heard coming from inside those woods. For me, this led to a lifetime fascination with forests and the mysteries they hold. Though I’ve written fiction on a variety of topics, I was most excited about trying my hand at horror, inspired by my childhood proximity to the woods. 


I wrote...

What Happened at Sisters Creek: A Horror Novel

By Lee Anderson,

Book cover of What Happened at Sisters Creek: A Horror Novel

What is my book about?

An unknown horror stalks a Florida National Park. Charlie Sparks is a small-town sheriff, his career derailed by rampant scandal and corruption. When faced with solving the gruesome campsite murder of a young family, Sparks suspects two recent escape convicts. He also sees a chance to redeem himself. The sheriff and his search party set out into the woods to find the convicts. What they discover instead is an unthinkable terror, driven by a voracious hunger for human flesh.

The Witchcraft Sourcebook

By Brian P. Levack (editor),

Book cover of The Witchcraft Sourcebook

Of all the books I consulted while writing my own, this is the one that surprised me the most and that I most frequently revisit. It is a collection of historical documents on witchcraft in the Western world from the Roman Empire to the eighteenth century, and I cannot recommend a better book on the subject. It's fascinating, painstakingly researched, instantly accessible to any reader, and either hilarious or horrifying, depending on how you pick your poison! There is a particularly interesting document that details how one sells their soul to the Devil which I was delighted to see referenced in Robert Egger's 2015 film The VVitch. He must have either read this book or consulted that same document during his research, which was clearly to his benefit.


Who am I?

I prefer to write historical fiction because so many fascinating stories have already happened in the past, and these tales are filled with real-life characters with rich backstories and personalities. I try to find the best historical figures and scenarios I can through exhaustive research and then stitch them together into thrillers that mesh seamlessly with the history I researched. My books are written to educate and entertain, and nothing makes me prouder than when readers follow the breadcrumb trails I leave behind for further research. I hope you enjoy the hunt!


I wrote...

License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

By Jacopo della Quercia,

Book cover of License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe

What is my book about?

This is William Shakespeare as we've never seen him before - a secret service agent armed with high-tech gadgets taking on Guy Fawkes and an army of witches. A freerunning Christopher Marlowe scales the bell towers of Venice and Rome, and Leonardo da Vinci's scythed chariot sweeps through the streets of London. License to Quill is a work of deep historical research and, even better, of prodigious and inventive literary imagination. I'll never read Macbeth the same way again. 

Ross King, New York Times bestselling author of Brunelleschi's Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling.

The Amityville Horror

By Jay Anson,

Book cover of The Amityville Horror

What sets The Amityville Horror apart from other haunted house stories is that it is supposedly true. The objective facts are that 24-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and four siblings while they were asleep in their home. At his trial, he claimed that voices in the house told him to do it. The Lutz family moved into the home the next year and vacated the house 28 days later. According to Jay Anson’s book, the same spirits that possessed DeFeo were still doing their thing when the Lutzs moved in. A priest was told to “Get out!” and became ill while he attempted to bless the home. The family heard voices, saw mysterious figures, and were plagued by slime. They fled the premises and have maintained the validity of their story although no subsequent owners have reported anything supernatural occurring. Bottom line: don’t buy a house if the…


Who am I?

No movie has traumatized me more than The Exorcist. I saw it at a sleepover when I was twelve years old, and I’ve never forgotten Regan McNeil’s disfigured face and demonic voice. It’s hard to say how many nightmares that possessed little girl has generated. I read the novel a few years later and was equally shocked. Creating art that can affect someone in such a formative way has been my goal ever since. I often set my stories in my native state of West Virginia, which because of its scenic beauty, is commonly referred to as “Almost Heaven.” I feel that it’s my job to balance that out. 


I wrote...

The Exorcist's House

By Nick Roberts,

Book cover of The Exorcist's House

What is my book about?

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia. Along with his wife, Nora, and their teenage daughter, Alice, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. At first, they are seduced by the natural beauty of the farm and enjoy the bonding experience of fixing the old house, but that all changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes. Local legends about the previous owner’s predilection for performing exorcisms come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

By Brian P. Levack,

Book cover of The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe

The Witch-Hunt is the place to start for anyone interested in European witch-hunts, witch trials, and beliefs about diabolic magic. The book is a concise history of magic and witchcraft in England and across the continent from 1450 to 1750. Levack touches on everything anyone needs to know about the topic, yet the book is more than a survey. The author provides in-depth information and myriad graphic details about the accusations, trials, tortures, and executions of thousands of people, largely women. Witchcraft was ubiquitously thought to be a crime and moral abomination, and it was prosecuted by both secular and church courts. But the specifics of witch-hunting in various locales differed according to complex factors such as religion, economics, social class, legal codes, the centralization of the government, and gender. Levack explains the geographical distribution of witch-hunts and how they spread and eventually ended.

The fourth edition of the book…


Who am I?

I’m a scholar, a teacher, and an activist for gender equity. I earned my Ph.D. in medieval history at the University of Virginia. Since then, I've taught at small liberal arts colleges where I’ve had the flexibility to diversify the courses I teach. Among those courses are ancient, medieval, and Islamic history, the History of Magic and Witchcraft, Latin, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. My current gig is at Pacific University Oregon where I established a Gender and Sexuality Studies minor, founded the Center for Gender Equity, and developed an exchange program with Lady Doak college in India for exploring issues regarding gender. I've recently published two books on the intersection of magic, gender, and ritual.

I wrote...

Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000

By Martha Rampton,

Book cover of Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000

What is my book about?

Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000 explores how magic was perceived, practiced, and prohibited in western Europe throughout the first Christian millennium. During this period, magic was thought to play a natural and rational role in the functioning of the cosmos. Christian theologians claimed that the pagan gods and goddesses were in fact evil demons, and the essence of magic was transactional dealings with those demons. I examine the competition between pagans and Christians as the new religion spread across Europe, and I chronicle the ways in which rituals facilitated conversion. My book challenges long-held views that women monopolized ritual magic during this period. Women had specialties including love magic, healing rites, birth magic, and several nocturnal and chthonic rites. 

The Demonologist

By Gerald Brittle,

Book cover of The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren

Whether you believe in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s now legendary cases of paranormal investigation or not is irrelevant to enjoying this “non-fiction” book. The Warrens investigated many of the most famous hauntings from the 1950s to the 1990s—most notably, a murder/haunting in Amityville, NY, a possessed doll named, Annabelle, and a reported poltergeist in the town of Enfield in north London, England—all of which have been dramatized in popular horror movies, further expanding their legacy. The Warrens have their supporters and detractors like anyone claiming to have evidence of the paranormal. The abundance of evidence (“haunted” artifacts, such as dolls, mannequins, stuffed animals deemed responsible for paranormal activity) in the Warren’s cases, however, was stored in their own home which also operated as an occult museum. If you are suffering from the onset of demonic possession, it could be beneficial to chuck Grandma’s hand-me-down Raggedy Ann doll out the window. 


Who am I?

No movie has traumatized me more than The Exorcist. I saw it at a sleepover when I was twelve years old, and I’ve never forgotten Regan McNeil’s disfigured face and demonic voice. It’s hard to say how many nightmares that possessed little girl has generated. I read the novel a few years later and was equally shocked. Creating art that can affect someone in such a formative way has been my goal ever since. I often set my stories in my native state of West Virginia, which because of its scenic beauty, is commonly referred to as “Almost Heaven.” I feel that it’s my job to balance that out. 


I wrote...

The Exorcist's House

By Nick Roberts,

Book cover of The Exorcist's House

What is my book about?

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia. Along with his wife, Nora, and their teenage daughter, Alice, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. At first, they are seduced by the natural beauty of the farm and enjoy the bonding experience of fixing the old house, but that all changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes. Local legends about the previous owner’s predilection for performing exorcisms come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

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