From the very first page, The William Peter Blatty lays out an unease and terror with The Exorcist. This story begins with Father Merrin excavating somewhere in a desert in Iraq. He finds a statue of a demon Pazuzu and that moment carries out a tension throughout the rest of the book. Much like the movie which came after, The Exorcist, written by William Peter Blatty in 1971 is definitely a must for horror fans. I finally read the novel about a month ago and I am very glad that I did. I recommend this book to anybody; not only is it a great horror story but it is a very good story in general. In a nutshell, The Exorcist is a story about a sweet young 11 year old girl who gets possessed by a demon though people, including her mother and doctors, think that her symptoms are psychological. It is a slow buildup but I think that is actually better because it adds to the sense of dread.
Blatty does a great job building up the tension and giving a sense of dread and creeping terror. The main theme about religion and demonic possession can make people uncomfortable and even terrified. I thought it was amazing how in depth Blatty describes demonic possessions and exorcisms. I’m sure he must have done quite a lot of research about the subject matter.
One thing I like about this book is the subtle details and occurrences in the story which seem minor and unimportant to the characters yet, as the reader, you know it’s due to whatever evil presence is lurking in the house. From the things being moved around in the house to the strange noises you just know there’s something evil at works that builds up to the climax of the story. Of course, these small things build up in intensity and they become evidently unnatural and scary. I love how the doctors seem genuinely baffled and even scared when they observe what is happening to Regan, which makes it so much more realistic.
Blatty manages to bring every character to life which makes reading this book so much more. He even makes minor characters feel as if they are important to the story because they all interact and weave into the plot in one way or another; You get to see their reactions to what is going on in the story and that was something I found very satisfying. I liked the approach Blatty uses with Father Karras in trying to explain Regan’s exorcism through a psychological or medical perspective. Karras’s character alone is very likeable because we see a priest whose faith and confidence wavers. I especially like Detective Kinderman’s character because I just think he is very funny. I also like the subplot of Kinderman trying to solve the murder of Dennings and his eventual hunch that Regan was the murderer, unaware that she was possessed.
The story reaches its dramatic and creepy climax when Father Merrin finally arrives at Regan’s home and he and Karras perform the exorcism. The final pages of the exorcism are filled with frighteneing and powerful and iconic images from spinning heads to green vomit. There were some scenes that were really graphic and I could see where this book could be considered contraversal, yet it was necessary for the story. One scene which instantly comes to my mind is when Regan, who is already possessed at this time, masturbates with a crucifix causing her to bleed. I think that was the most intense and graphic scene in the whole book. Overall, this is a great story, definitely one of my new favorites. I recommend anyone to read this book! If you’ve seen the movie, you know how terrifying it is amd its safe to say the book is just as terrifying, maybe even a bit more. As of yet, I’ll place this as the second scariest book I’ve read, right behind Salem’s Lot.