The novel introduces us to the MacNeil family – a woman named Chris, and her daughter Regan – who live a normal, peaceful life. Until mysterious events begin to happen in their house. In the beginning, it starts off with thumping noises which come from the attic. Then, the displacement of furniture. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when on one particular night, Regan’s bed starts to shake violently. After that, we begin to see the gradual psychological and physiological changes in the girl, eventually leading to her actual “possession”. The way the story flows and the way it is written makes you believe that such a phenomena could happen to anyone, at any time. And it is this which I found to be really scary. Not to mention, of course, the scenes where the writer describes Regan’s facial features when she’s “possessed”, the renowned “spider walk” and the 360 degree head spin scenes, which made my hair stand on end.
I also found the last 27 pages to be very tense, where the final exorcism scene moves at a heart-racing pace. Quite disturbing and chilling to read, too, at that!
The author also provides readers with some (quite detailed, if I may add) insight on the various different vile, revolting, and obscene acts that occur during the satanic “Black Mass”. Information which, admittedly, made me gag a few times whilst reading. As gross as they may have been, though, they were still interesting to know, for someone who knew zilch about satanism.
Now, without rambling on too much or deviating from the actual review itself, I wish to give my personal view on the book’s main topic. To make it clear, I do not believe in such a thing as “demonic possession”. I simply think that it is a form of serious mental illness very similar to multiple personality disorder (AKA dissociative identity disorder), and that “exorcism” is just another fancy term for the use of the power of strong suggestion. Having read the book, it’s safe to say that my opinion still hasn’t changed. And I think William Peter Blatty makes a great point in his book when he writes:
“… to someone who thinks that he’s really possessed, I would say that the ritual’s rather impressive. …. it was purely the force of suggestion. The victim’s belief in possession helped cause it, or at least the appearance of the syndrome, and in just the same way his belief in the power of the exorcism can make it disappear.”
So, The Exorcist being my first horror novel which I’ve read, I can now say that it’s been one hell of an entertaining read. This was also my first time listening to an audiobook on YouTube while following the text from the book itself. And Mr. Blatty certainly does a fantastic job at adding to the book’s suspense and scariness with the help of his deep, raspy voice. Whilst I wouldn’t particularly suggest this novel to a devout religious person, or those who are faint-hearted, I would still encourage you to approach this book with an open mind, and give it a try. At most, if it puts you off, just stop reading it. Simple. What else can I say?
Overall, a hair-raising, blood-curdling, and dark read.
– Preston Carbonaro