The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty

I don’t usually go out of my way to read something spooky for Halloween, but I needed an excuse to read The Exorcist, which I bought on a whim from a charity shop years ago. I hadn’t actually realised it was a book, having only heard of the film, banned for being shocking and obscene. And so I started reading, feeling a bit nervous and hoping that I would not be spending the next week having nightmares.

I was surprised to find that the book wasn’t actually all that scary. There were moments where I thought something terrifying was on the verge of happening, but then the tension petered out and I was left feeling a mixture of mild disappointment and extreme relief. This seemed to be a pattern in The Exorcist. There would be a slow lead up, with gradually more tension filling the pages, until the reader is on the edge of their chair and peering through fingertips. Then everything would stop, the child would fall asleep and it would be back to the beginning for the boring lead up to start all over again.

Of course, everybody knows the general storyline of The Exorcist; Sweet and innocent young girl gets ‘possessed’ by the Devil and does some rather unsavoury things in front of her mother. Lots of this involves a crucifix – and for this reason, I would recommend anoyone who is easily offended by blasphemy, child nudity or obscene language to steer very clear of this book.

Apart from the poor possessed Regan and her mother, the only other character of interest is Karras, a Jesuit priest and psychiatrist.  After exhausting all other options, and seeing many doctors, specialists and shrinks, Regan’s mother eventually finds Karras and begs him to perform an exorcism on her daughter. It is impossible not to pity the emotionally shattered mother, and Karras agrees to help. In-between Regan’s ‘episodes’, Blatty concentrates on Karras, who franticly searches through his books, finding out all he can about possession, Black Mass and exorcism. In my opinion these sections went on for too many pages and could have been cut down drastically. There is only so much pacing, smoking and passages from old Black Mass text books that I can take.

So, possibly not the best choice of book – although it did only cost about 90p – The Exorcist does not get the thumbs up from me. And after all that, even though it wasn’t all that scary, I still managed to have some rather weird and creepy dreams about little girls speaking in the deep voices of scary sounding men.

If you want to see how if it creeps you out, click on the picture below for the link to Amazon.

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