Narrator: Eliana Shaskan, William Peter Blatty
Published by Harper Audio on 1971
Length: 12 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Classics, Demons, Horror
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The phenomenal bestseller that inspired the classic motion picture, rereleased in this special 40th Anniversary Edition
Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist was not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels—and terrifying movies—ever created. Based on a documented case of demonic possession, it is the story of Regan, the twelve-year-old daughter of an accomplished actress who has become possessed by an ancient demon, and the Catholic priests—one elderly, the other conflicted—who will risk their faith and their souls to save her.
Four decades after its initial publication, William Peter Blatty's purposefully raw, profane, and utterly gripping novel remains a shocking and eerily believable literary experience. It is a powerful and frightening classic that continues to transfix and inspire fans worldwide.
“You don’t blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home… Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism…”
When Regan MacNeil, daughter of famous actress Chris MacNeil, becomes strangely ill, coming up with a reasonable explanation proves difficult. Chris’ original belief that this is caused by repressed anger over her divorce with Regan’s father because less likely as time progresses and Regan begins going through increasingly violent episodes and physical transformations as well. When modern medical treatments fail to provide any change in her daughter, Chris seeks out the help of a local priest by the name of Damien Karras. While Karras is also quick to disregard the notion that Regan could be possessed based on a personal crisis of faith, it becomes more and more clear that there’s nothing else it could possibly be. Blatty states that his idea for the novel came after reading an article which claims that a 14-year-old boy was successfully exorcised of the devil.
It might be obvious to say that this novel features heavy religious discussions and of the never-ending battle between good and evil. Even though I expected it, I felt it was done in a very maladroit way. Many horror novels I’ve read, and many of the classics I’ve recently read, tend to focus more on the actual horror. The Exorcist, I felt was attempting to be more literary and highbrow than was necessarily called for as well as overly excessive in terms of time spent instructing the reader in religious knowledge. For me, an air of mystery will cause more fright versus being explained the reasoning behind things in minute detail.
The actual horror of this novel was a lot more subdued than I anticipated. While I knew random bits of pop culture trivia even though I hadn’t seen the movie beforehand, the supposedly horrific aspects of this story were far more gross than scary. Particularly the scene where she vomits green stuff or where she does… bad things with a crucifix. Sure, it’s meant to be horrifying that she’s doing these actions unwillingly, and that it’s terrible it’s happening to a girl so young but it didn’t evoke any terror for me. Still, this was a definite “must-read” on the list of horror classics and I’ve successfully knocked it out. I should probably suck it up and watch the movie now. Knowing that her projectile green vomit was actually Andersen’s pea soup mixed with a little oatmeal will likely ease any potential terror. 🙂