Written by William Peter Blatty
Published by Harper Collins Publishing
True story. My mother did everything within her power to prevent me from watching The Exoricst when I was a little kid. She had never seen the film herself, but with all of that lasting controversy there was no way she was going to let me see the damn thing. In retrospect, it’s hard to blame her for not letting her ten year old son watch “the scariest movie ever made”, but she never stopped to think about the novel – which I’d successfully checked out of my local library and kept beneath my bed.
It’s been a long time since that summer of ’88 so, needless to say, my memory of William Peter Blatty’s novel wasn’t great. When the 40th Anniversary Edition landed on my doorstep, I was more than eager to revisit the book – curious and more than a little concerned with the author’s revisions for this celebratory version.
Blatty felt this was a long time coming, however, having never been able to do a “polish” on his manuscript before it was published in 1971. While making my way through the first few chapters, any doubts I might’ve had were quickly alleviated as I realized this is still very much “The Exorcist” that I remember reading twenty plus years ago. All of the character beats remain intact, the pacing is still as fast as ever and most of the additions appear to be little more than subtle tweaks to the prose here and there.
There is a brand new character inserted into the proceedings, but it’s much ado about nothing. It’s a mysterious Jesuit priest who appears to Father Karras in one spectacularly eerie dream sequence. Without spoiling anything for soon-to-be readers, we’re never sure of who exactly appears to Damien (friend or foe – most likely demon), but the end result of the sequence is very scary, unsettling stuff. A very welcome addition to the sustaining lore around “The Exorcist.”
Whatever the edition, there’s not a lot to say about “The Exorcist” that hasn’t already been said. This remains a thrilling, character-driven horror story that ranks up there with the best of them. I devoured this edition over the course of two sittings and couldn’t have enjoyed it any more. It’s a work that seems to have more resonance the older I get and I’m glad to have this new edition on my shelf. Highly recommended.
5 out of 5