The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty | Book Review

The Exorcist book cover

I’ve never seen The Exorcist ‘cos I’m a wimp when it comes to scary movies, but scary books are fine by me and I was in the mood for something creepy. I didn’t really know what to expect – I was a little worried it would be one of those that doesn’t live up to its hype – but it far exceeded all of my hopes. It was brilliant.

Having never seen the film I didn’t actually know much about the story, other than the fact that a little girl has a demon inside her and her head spins around. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth to the story; it wasn’t focused solely on the ghoulishness of the possession, but instead on those who are forced to witness it. We get right into the mind of Chris, the mother of possessed Regan, as she desperately fights to get a diagnosis for her daughter and for an exorcism when it seems to be the only answer. Father Karras – responsible for the exorcism – complemented Chris wonderfully; cool, calm and collected when necessary, and yet desperately stressed beneath the surface due to his own personal demons (although not in the literal sense).

From the outset it seems inevitable that Regan is in fact possessed by a demon, and yet the academic nature of Father Karras’ investigation into Regan’s condition had me questioning if it was really true, or if she was simply suffering by something wholly more ‘sensible’ – a medical condition of some sort. The sinister, demonic aspects of Regan’s behaviour build relatively slowly, which aids in this sense of doubt and creates bags of tension until her condition reaches its terrifying peak and it becomes clear that only something supernatural could be to blame.

William Peter Blatty holds nothing back when it comes to describing the abhorrent actions of the demon which possesses Regan. It makes for truly uncomfortable and repulsive reading, and yet anything less would have made the story far less impactful. It certainly had my heart hammering and I frequently felt the urge to put the book down and try to forget its existence (which would have been futile!) but in my mind that’s exactly what a good horror story should strive to achieve.

Yep… The Exorcist certainly lived up to its hype for me. Now maybe I’ll drum up some courage to watch the film.

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and fiction writer from Sheffield, UK. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction. She has published two short story collections - 'Merry Bloody Christmas' and 'Come What May Day'. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Competition. She can often be found loitering on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott).

3 thoughts on “The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty | Book Review”

  1. I like the sound of the book. I have seen the film and, from what I remember (it’s been a while), it’s shocking in terms of what the demon says through the girl and fairly revolting: head-spinning, green ectoplasm flying about etc. Very scary in it’s time, but I suspect not so much any more – like Psycho. You could probably come out from behind the couch to watch it!

  2. I read this book more than once in my younger years. It was a really great read. I have seen the movie a few times as well. For its time, it was very disturbing and scary. Not sure it would be by today’s standards. However, if you have a great imagination, I think what you see in your head will be far scarier than what you see on the screen.

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