William Peter Blatty
Sometimes the classics are the best at extracting good chills and shocks, and when it comes to demon possession stories The Exorcist remains one of the best in the genre. Regan MacNeil has not so normal preteen problems, her mom is a movie star and she also happens to have a demon inside her body. Her mother Chris enlists the help of priest and psychiatrist Father Damien to help her ailing daughter. What follows is an exorcism that rattles the readers and every character in the novel.
I will admit, I saw the movie when I was not much older than Regan, tried to read the novel and didn’t make it through to the end (I blame trying them both too close together). It took many years later for me to attempt try number two and I am glad I did. Regan and her descent into increasingly disturbing behavior is gripping, graphic, and utterly memorable. But deeper than Blatty’s development of Regan and the demon Pazuzu is the emotional depth of Father Damien Karras. Father Damien is a man struggling with his faith. He comes to the MacNeil family as a psychiatrist and not a priest, and tries to diagnose Reagan’s problem as a psychiatrist would. Father Damien’s development from his first appearance, through the exorcism, and to the end is written with compassion and human qualities. Regan grapples with the supernatural while Father Damien grapples with the ordinary kind of crisis that can affect all of us. Together they make quite the compelling novel.
The skill and eloquence Blatty uses to create the distressing atmosphere of the MacNeil house far surpasses the movie version of The Exorcist. So, take that whoever wrote the film version – just kidding I know it was Blatty who wrote the screenplay.
Karras stared numbly at the spittle, eyes bulging. Did not move. Could not hear above the roaring of his blood. And then slowly, in quivering, side-angling jerks, he looked up with a face that was a purpling snarl, an electrifying spasm of hatred and rage…