Simply put, this is still the best horror novel ever written. Blatty’s use of language — particularly simile — is beautiful and touching or sickening and depraved, but always right there, pushing the reader to see what he wants you to see.
The Exorcist is the story of Father Damien Karras’s journey from doubt to faith. Yes, there is a young girl who is possessed and the demon within makes her do some pretty gross things, but the story is really about Damien. He is the character who changes.
I’m currently having my grade-level high school seniors read this novel independently. It’s supposed to be a British literature class, but the chance of these inner city kids reading something like A Tale of Two Cities on their own is zero, so I gave them this. I suppose that could be considered controversial, but most of them are actually reading it and I consider that a victory.