Friday, January 10, 2014

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Reviewed by Christy Herndon

I can’t remember the first time I became aware of the movie The Exorcist but I know I’ve been scared to watch it for a long, long time – turning the channel if clips were shown during horror movie countdowns, listening wide-eyed as my big, tough uncle claimed it was the only movie to ever bother him. It wasn’t until this year, at 27 years old, I finally decided to watch it for Halloween. However, before I did that I wanted to prepare myself by reading the book first.

    There is probably not much that can be said about the Exorcist (film or novel) that hasn’t already been covered extensively so I can only bring you the perspective of a nervous newbie. For the uninitiated, the basic premise revolves around popular actress Chris MacNeil and her very sick 12 year old daughter Regan. Well, Chris thinks she’s sick anyway. That’s the only logical explanation for Regan’s sudden bizarre behavior: cursing profusely, moving heavy furniture around by herself, even urinating on the living room carpet during a dinner party. Chris spends the first half of the novel consulting with doctors hoping they can find an explanation, physically or mentally, but to no avail. Regan’s behavior steadily gets worse throughout the novel until finally irreligious Chris comes to the difficult decision to contact an exorcist.

    First and foremost: this novel is scary. I’ve overheard plenty of millennial horror fans discuss their dislike for the movie, dismissing it as “boring”, and I’m sure some bookworms would feel the same way about the book. But I didn’t see it that way at all. It takes its time getting to the “good stuff” but does so with page-turning suspense and a few creepy moments sprinkled throughout. I really felt for the characters - especially Chris and all the torment she was going through just to find out what was wrong with her daughter. Then things got even worse! There were a few scenes that turned my stomach a bit but overall I was surprised by how much I liked the novel.

    I refrained from reading it before bed though just to keep my sanity. (Oh, and I liked the movie too! Even if I wasn’t sure I was going to get through it.)

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