Welcome back to the bookclub! In March, we read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty for The You’ll Read Too Bookclub! If you wish to access all of the latest updates/information, click here. Spoilers ahead!
Quick Reminder: This month we are reading ‘The Year of the Witching’ by Alexis Henderson.
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I normally do the IGTV videos. You can find the IGTV video for this talk on my bookclub Instagram page. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you wish to guess without being spoiled, do not scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
THE EXORCIST by WILLIAM PETER BLATTY – MARCH 2021
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this 5/5 stars. I was surprised by how much I actually loved it. When I was 18, I watched the film for the first time and was completely traumatised. I was so scared, I didn’t absorb any of the story. Reading the novel forced me to focus on the actual plot, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also re-watched the film last month and had a much better experience. What I loved most about the novel was the investigative process into whether Regan was actually possessed or not. It was the perfect tale of hope, despair and a mother’s devotion to her child.
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
I gave this novel a scare-factor rating of 5/5. If The Exorcist does not frighten you, nothing will. The slow deterioration of Regan, as she becomes more demon than girl, will stay you with long after you turn the final page. There are many disturbing scenes that people still talk about to this day. I will discuss those further down below.
1.) Do you prefer the book or the film? Why?
In my personal opinion, I prefer the novel but the film is scarier (purely for the visual and audible aspect). As with most book to film adaptations, the story gives us more depth and insight into how the characters are feeling. I felt that the movie stayed very true to the book but I still enjoyed the reading experience more.
2.) What scene disturbed you the most in the book AND the film?
In both the film and the book, I was most disturbed by Regan’s act of masturbation with a crucifix. She shoves her mother’s face into her crotch, asking her to lick it. It’s deeply unsettling and unnatural. In the film, the flashes of Pazuzu’s face always freak me out. I also cannot remove the stair scene from my brain. We have stairs in our house and I sometimes get paranoid little Abigail is going to walk down them backwards…*shudder.*
3.) Why do you believe Pazuzu chose Regan as its host?
I have no doubt that Regan was possessed by Pazuzu through her continuous use of the Ouija Board in her home. However, Regan also symbolises innocence and vulnerability. She is an easier target to control. In the book, the priest mentions the possibility that Pazuzu possessed the little girl with the goal of tormenting everybody around her and causing chaos. What do you think?
4.) Did guilt play a part in Regan’s trauma? Discuss the impact of her father’s absence.
Before Regan is approved for an exorcism, many of the doctors that she sees imply that her father’s absence is causing the hysteria and psychological distress. I don’t believe that had anything to do with her possession, but she was more vulnerable as a result. One of my bookclub members made an excellent point which I want to share with you all. She said the narrative of the “single working mother” not being good enough was in bad taste. Chris was an exceptional mother to Regan. I completely agree.
5.) Why do you believe an Exorcism is so difficult to get approved?
If you’ve seen or heard about The Exorcism of Emily Rose, you will understand why it is such a difficult process. During that time, epilepsy was not a condition well-known or researched. Emily’s fits led to a priest performing an exorcism, which resulted in her death. She needed medical attention, not a spiritual ceremony. Every single possibility must be explored before reaching that point. In Regan’s case, I believe it went too far and they were lucky she survived. There was no doubt that the supernatural was involved.
Easy: What does Regan call the demon in the beginning?
Medium: What is the name of the organisation that mocks the Catholic religion?
Hard: What is the name of the woman who spoke in anagrams?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion in this post and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: Captain Howdy. Medium: Black Mass. Hard: Clelia.