So much has been written about this book and subsequent movie. As the description says, The Exorcist is a part of our culture, not to mention itâ€™s spawned hundredsâ€”maybe even thousandsâ€”of imitations. I first read the novel while in school, then went to see the terrifying William Friedkin movie by myself. Like so many others at the time, I had nightmares for a week. Imagine having grown up with stories featuring vampires, zombies, and mutants. Then, this powerhouse of a tale comes along about a non-religious young girl who unwittingly invites a demon into her house courtesy of a Ouija board. Now, today that may seem tame, given that weâ€™ve become inured to evil courtesy of television series like Supernatural. But back in the day, this was Grade-A horror, my friend.
What I loved most about the book when I first read itâ€”and what I cherish nowâ€”is how real the characters seem. The author, William Peter Blatty, was a graduate of Georgetown University and knew well the world of Jesuit priests. For my money, he did a marvelous job of delving into their humor, their disappointments, and their loneliness. And when he takes a tortured soul like Damien Karras, a priest who is also a brilliant psychologist, and puts him in a room with Satan, wellâ€¦ Letâ€™s just say things get really interesting.
One more thing. In rereading the novel and recalling Lee J. Cobbâ€™s excellent screen portrayal of Kinderman, I was happily reminded that the author had quite a sense of humor. To me, his dogged cop is Columbo if heâ€™d been Jewish. Seeing this weary flat-foot spar with the dour priest is nothing short of magical.
As bad as things get for the girl, Regan, and her mother, Chris, Blatty gives us hope that God will prevail in the end. Without that, this story would have been nihilistic and pointless. An exercise in demonic torture porn. So, whether you are a person of faith or not, if you enjoy horror that is smart, funny, and mind-numbingly scary, I heartily recommend this book. And if, like me, youâ€™re Catholic, be sure to keep a Rosary on your nightstand.
You can find this review at Goodreads.
The ExorcistÂ changed popular culture forever. Now, William Peter Blattyâ€™s groundbreaking story of faith and supernatural suspenseâ€”the runaway #1 bestseller that started it allâ€”is reincarnated in this spectacular newly polished and rewritten 40th Anniversary Edition ofÂ the novel that burst through societyâ€™s seven seals and paved the way for the entire genre that followed it: the unforgettableÂ The Exorcist.
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