The perfect phrase for this book is: Never judge a book by its movie. This is a must-read for all horror fans, a classic that still manages to leave your skin crawling.
In modern Iraq, a Jesuit at an excavation of an ancient site discovers a strange figurine of the demon Pazuzu entwined with a metal of St Joseph. In the city of Georgetown, the daughter of a famous actress falls victim to a disease that medicine cannot explain. When paranormal events start happening around young Reagan McNeil, her mother turns to a Jesuit priest, Father Damien Karras. When all his effects bare no fruit, Father Karras calls upon Father Lankester Merrin, another priest just returned from Iraq. Together they will attempt to exorcise the demon within the girl, but at what cost? Doubts are brewing and evil never rests.
I must admit, when I started reading this book I struggled to keep reading it but in the end, it was worth it. It’s one of scariest books one can read.
The depth of this novel is great and there are no loose ends. The plot is disturbing but at the same time compelling and will stay in the memory of the reader for a long time. The research that William Blatty uses in the novel is very well integrated and it gives the feeling that the reader is reading about something that really happened. The lines of thought, the psychology and the knowledge of human behaviour were incredible to read and it’s easy for the reader to identify itself with one of the characters and its reactions.
The characters are very well developed. Father Damien, the main protagonist is a great character with his own flaws and his doubts make him more human. The loss of his mother and the confrontation with something he doesn’t understand and therefore, doesn’t know how to help, makes the reader feel for him. As he battles a crisis of faith, he still holds on with the simple objective of saving the young girls’ life.
The style of writing is simple and easy to follow, built on mundane vocabulary to describe the activities of every day. The narrative develops at a steady pace and Blatty narrates the story without getting lost in unnecessary details. The beginning of the story is mysterious and descriptive but it’s needed to set the scene, not only in Iraq but in Georgetown as well. No main characters are introduced though, and the reader is left hanging with questions. The writing is seductive and Betty knows how to keep the reader absorbed in the narrative even when it gets creepy.
I highly recommend this book to horror fans that like to stay awake at night for more reasons than one.