Halloween: Scary book picks from EW staffers

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Josh Stillman says: Everyone’s familiar with the 1973 movie, but they don’t always realize that it was based on a novel by William Peter Blatty from two years earlier. The book delves deeply and graphically into the psychological and physical elements of possession, at times reading more like a firsthand medical account than a work of fiction. It’s that sense of unnerving documentary realism — along with, of course, the brutality of the events — that make the novel so disturbing. The movie made you think, “This might be real”; the book tells you, “This is real.”

On a side note, when I first started reading the book (I was around 14 or 15), I cozied up on the couch in my living room next to a bunch of huge bay windows overlooking the back yard. I hadn’t gotten more than a page or two in when a bolt of lightning struck a tree outside, maybe fifteen feet from the house. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. Any sane person would have taken it as a sign and immediately dropped the book and joined a convent, but I persisted and finished it. Talk about an omen.

NEXT: Can dinosaurs be as scary as monsters and murderers? Adam Vary thinks so…

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