If you come to this book expecting it to be anything like the Anthony Hopkins movie you’ll be very, very disappointed. There’s no red-eyed mule, no frogs, nobody strapped to a hospital bed, and no possessed mentor priest. Other than the basic premise of an American priest going to Rome to become an exorcist, there’s almost nothing else common between book and film. Hopefully Matt Baglio was able to laugh all the way to the bank with Hollywood’s money and didn’t get too upset at the film treatment of his material.
That said, this is a very informative book on exorcism and what a modern American priest learns about the rite. Baglio introduces us to Father Gary, the American priest appointed exorcist by his bishop and sent to Rome to learn to do his new duties. More than that, though, the author gives a lot of background information about the history of exorcism and mental illness, and interviews experienced Italian exorcists. The most relevant thing learned is that exorcism is not a one-shot session as portrayed in most movies, but an on-going treatment. Kind of like a spiritual chiropractor.
I gave the book three stars instead of four simply because it seemed to jump around erratically between Father Gary’s story and the other information. I wanted to know more about Fr. Gary. It’s a fine book and very informative for those interested in how the Catholic church really treats exorcism.