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The Exorcist Review

The Exorcist Review

By M. F.PaulPublished about a year ago 8 min read
The Exorcist Review

Good morning everyone. As I have to make a somewhat long clarification that is unrelated to the review itself, I will go straight to the point here. Today I will review one of the greatest and best known horror classics. The title says it all. The Exorcist has been known globally for decades, especially for its film adaptation, for being one of the most terrifying works within the genre; reaching testimonies of nightmares that did not allow their readers to sleep. Finally, and thanks to a book club on goodreads (that's the clarification) I decided to read it, since it had been in my library for a couple of years without being touched, and today here is his review. Although I saw the film many years ago, I barely have memories of it, except for the most commemorative scenes of it, I remembered practically nothing; he only knew that a little girl was possessed and that her physical appearance mutated into horrible things. It was practically a blind reading. So, let's get to it at once.

But not without first making the aforementioned clarification. The book club on goodreads mentioned is one called "Crypt Readers" which was started by booktuber Coos Burton . In which all the participants choose a genre and book per month, the one that is chosen in the vote is read and commented on by everyone in a discussion forum on the goodreads platform itself. I do not think it necessary to clarify that The Exorcist was chosen for January. in this one link will be able to go to the Facebook post where the club is announced, so they can join if they wish. The genres, said by Coos herself, will be composed mainly of horror, fantasy, thriller and science fiction; the club is planned for this whole year, that is, twelve books in total. Whether or not there will be another edition of the club next year is foreign to me and will have to be announced by Coos; All of the aforementioned is information of public knowledge since it has been uploaded to the different platforms of the club's administrator.

I think that's it, let's start with the review.


The Exorcist Review

Chris McNeil is a famous American actress who lives with her eleven-year-old daughter Regan and who is separated from her husband. Among all of Regan's toys and paintings, there is a Ouija board, which is used by the girl to compose and learn words. One day they begin to hear noises on the roofs and knocks on the wall, but considering possible rats on the roof, Chris does not give them much importance; her servant will take care of them. Soon, these noises are joined by furniture that "moves on its own" during the night and, worst of all, a sudden change in the girl's behavior. Regan will suffer from constant nightmares, incontinence, bad language, and various other behaviors that are unbecoming of a girl. Chris thinks that her daughter behaves in this way because she feels guilty for the separation of her parents, since she has even created an imaginary friend, who contacts her through the Ouija board. Sooner than later, Regan gets worse, it doesn't seem to be her anymore, she becomes violent, yelling and swearing at everyone almost all the time. Chris decides that his daughter has a real mental illness, which is not just for attention. After many consultations with mental health professionals, her mother becomes convinced that Regan's imaginary friend is the one forcing her to behave in this way and that it is not exactly something created in her mind. It's not just for attention. After many consultations with mental health professionals, her mother becomes convinced that Regan's imaginary friend is the one forcing her to behave in this way and that it is not exactly something created in her mind. It's not just for attention. After many consultations with mental health professionals, her mother becomes convinced that Regan's imaginary friend is the one forcing her to behave in this way and that it is not exactly something created in her mind.


The Exorcist Review

Regarding the narrative… I have a few small problems, exactly three points that bothered me a lot, luckily one of the three is just a detail. The first and most noticeable of the two is the dialogue, or at least part of it. The vast majority of dialogue in the novel is quite good, it helps a lot to form the plot, move it forward and show the personality of each character, the problem is that words are often repeated intentionally, that is, it is not that Blatty is a bad writer and that his editor has been even worse by not noticing it, but rather they are there on purpose. I will give a couple of examples invented by me so that it is understood.

Example 1:

Will you really do it or will I have to wait again?

Yes, I promise this time I will…I will.

Example 2:

Then we will have to take this seriously.

Of course. But I'll start tomorrow… tomorrow I'll get to work.

This kind of dialogue in which words are repeated unnecessarily are abundant in the novel. Detective Kinderman has this very marked characteristic, but this accompanies the rest of his personality, he is an old man who doubts a lot and goes around a lot before saying something concrete, it is something that suits him; but the rest of the characters have it too and he doesn't look as good. That a character has it as a characteristic is good, it shapes his character and gives him personality, but that many characters have it and that it happens practically every two pages becomes annoying.

The second problem is the setting. Maybe many people think differently about this point, but I can assure you that I felt a great lack of setting, at least from the second quarter of the novel (because as I said, the beginning is great at this point). From time to time a good description was achieved of what the characters felt or the environment where they were, for example being in certain places, more specifically Regan's house and especially Regan's room, building a certain setting, but in many others, later After describing one or two sensations (for example: a sudden drop in temperature and a bad smell), all the rest were left aside. I understand that the novel has had to be built mostly on dialogue, since to deal with the demon that possesses Regan, well, you have to do it talking, but I would have liked a little more of “something” that made me feel oppressed or stressed. It is a pity that he could not convey some of this to me, since not only the theme, but also the treatment that Blatty gave him went a long way in this regard.

Another point, which now that I think about it, has certainly affected the moment of achieving the much sought-after setting, is the way in which Blatty described certain actions and perceptions, especially when they happened in a different setting than where the characters in focus were present. Again, the best way to convey this is with examples, when one of the characters (for example, Regan being possessed) yelled, Blatty didn't write something like: "Regan let out a scream" or "Chris, lost in thought, suddenly dug a frightening scream” but, plain and simple, wrote “screams” or “insults” or “vomit”. This kills the atmosphere a lot and even more so the author's narrative. It is allowed to pass, but in the end it does not add anything, because if you do not describe a little better how those actions were, how the characters felt it,

Finally, so that this doesn't come off as just a negative, I'm going to say (more than anything to repeat what I've already said) that the whole medical point of view of the possession was unbelievable and this is largely due to Blatty's fluid narrative. As a friend said: A story can have the simplest plot or topic, but if the way of telling it is good, it becomes a great story. This is what happens here, becoming so interested in medical theories was undoubtedly the work of Blatty's prose. I say this based on my experience with other books, for example: The terminal man by Michael Chrichton, where the entire process and stages prior to the operation were told in such a heavy way that it was more suffering than pleasure. Here the opposite happened.


Good protagonist, well worked and modified/built by the situation and not the other way around.

Excellent way to narrate everything that happened. It really gets you interested in all the options and theories that are being considered to explain what happened.

Great beginning of the novel, a gloomy and dark environment is created in a few pages.

Good secondary characters, they fulfill their function and in the best of cases (like Kinderman) they add a lot of realism.

Many scenes or descriptions are gloomy and quite crude without the need to exaggerate, it shows that each one had a good preparation and they were not put out of nowhere or forced.


I felt that the atmosphere that they generated in the possession scenes was poorly worked on. In a sense, that very lack of setting was what generated the little fear that the novel made me feel.

Chris's character lacks depth, I would have liked a better development since she is the mother of the protagonist girl.

Those little annoyances in the dialogues where words are repeated all the time or the perceptions of the characters.


The Exorcist Review

An excellent novel, I think more than one would enjoy reading it. Although I did not perceive that terror that many did claim to feel, it does not detract (so much) from the novel, it is a good story, especially taking into account the time and everything it meant for popular culture in terms of terror. It has those small details that overshadow it a bit, but they are still details, it does not take away the true charm of the novel, since it is well done, from its structure and rhythm to its characters. While I'm a little disappointed, I'm also glad I finally read this great horror classic.

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M. F.Paul

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