Book Review: “The Devil Came to St. Louis: The True Story of the 1949 Exorcism” by Troy Taylor

I live in St. Louis so I am familiar with the story of “Robbie Doe” and the exorcism of 1949. This incident was the inspiration for the book and later the movie entitled “The Exorcist.” There have been a few books written about the 1949 exorcism and they all claim to be the “true story” but unfortunately, most of the participants have either passed away or refuse to speak of the events that occurred during the first half of that year. Troy Taylor’s book brings together research on the event (including information from the “exorcists diary”) and historical information on other exorcisms. In addition, he provides information on alternative theories and tries to not state his thoughts on what he thinks really happened.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think it is a good basic telling of the story of the 1949 exorcism and does give the reader information about alternative theories. I would have liked to have seen these theories fleshed out a bit more but it was a book on the exorcism and not a book on exorcisms in general.

Pros: This book was fairly enjoyable and easy to read. I appreciated the background information on exorcisms including the other cases that are not as well publicized. In order to give the reader a better picture of why so many question the validity of the possession, Troy briefly describes many of the different things that may have caused the events including fraud, mental illness, and psychokinesis. I’m a proponent of the psychokinesis theory myself.

Cons: I’m going to once again point to a need for editing. There were several words missing or misspelled. Also, something went wrong in the printing process because all of the quotation marks became fff in the book which was really jarring the first several times this occurred. As for the writing, I am not a fan of being told “prepare to be disturbed by what you read” and “I’ll bet you keep the light on.” This is over the top and unnecessary. I get that he is trying to set a mood but this is a bit much and he does it several times.

Since the writing of this post, the book has been updated and contains more details about the individuals involved with this incident. You can purchase your own copy of the book here.

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