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Book review: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

A book of The Exorcist

The Exorcist is one of those books I’d put off reading for many years, mainly because the film is so ubiquitous and all-encompassing that I could never really muster the enthusiasm for the book. But I’m glad I finally cracked it open as (of course) it’s a goddamned masterpiece.


William Peter Blatty’s ‘70s shocker takes a fairly simple setup - a young girl gets possessed by a demon and her mother seeks help from a troubled priest - and leads the reader on a slow descent into hell.


The book is beautifully crafted - filled with vivid characters and a measured pace. Sure, some of the writing can be a bit flowery and drawn out, such was the way in the ear, but when the story is this good, I can let it slide.


Admittedly it has been a few years since I last watched William Friedkin’s adaptation (also written by Blatty) so I can’t really compare the two but they seem one for one in terms of events. It’s no surprise the book was snapped up for the cinema - the characters are fully fleshed out with distinctive voices, which makes for an extremely refreshing read after a fair few modern indie horror books where people all talk the same. Father Karras and Chris McNeil are fantastic characters - he the tormented priest and she the desperate mother, their relationship and back and forth over how to treat Reagan is the heart of the book, making the ending that much more tragic.


5 bloody crucifixes out of 5


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