The book begins with a prologue which is set in modern day Iraq, at the site of the ancient city of Nineveh. A Jesuit at the excavation feels a premonition of horror and receives signs that there is about to be an otherworldly confrontation when he sees a figurine of the demon Pazuzu entwined with a medal of St. Joseph. The scene then shifts to Georgetown, where a young girl Reagan McNeil, daughter of a famous actress, falls mysteriously ill. Following an onset of very obviously paranormal disturbances which psychiatric treatment can little resolve, she turns to a Jesuit priest: Father Damien Karras. The narrative then follows Karras' attempts to diagnose the situation and at last he obtains approval from the church to assist in an exorcism to be conducted by Father Lankester Merrin, newly returned from Iraq. The two priests attempt to exorcise the girl evidently possessed by a demon. The book follows Karras's struggle with his own faith as well as his attempt to face the new dangers that the possession causes.
The author claims to have based aspects of the novel upon an exorcism performed by the Jesuit priest, Fr. William S. Bowdern, who formerly taught at both St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School. The book became one of the bestselling books of all time and inspired a movie based on it, also written by the author, which went on to become iconic in its stature as one of the greatest horror movies ever made.
The author writes in a simple, rolling narrative without excessive attention to detail. This keeps the pace even throughout and the reader absorbed. The prologue is very mysterious and reveals the plot without introducing the characters and thus grips the reader early on.
An excellent read, being a fan of the movie, I was even more satisfied on reading the book as many elements due to limitations of the medium, had not been incorporated into the movie. A resurrection of the then declining horror genre, it spawned a revival of both interest and inspiration.
Book Reviewed By Sayan Mukherjee
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