The best books to prepare you for demonic possession

Who am I?

No movie has traumatized me more than The Exorcist. I saw it at a sleepover when I was twelve years old, and I’ve never forgotten Regan McNeil’s disfigured face and demonic voice. It’s hard to say how many nightmares that possessed little girl has generated. I read the novel a few years later and was equally shocked. Creating art that can affect someone in such a formative way has been my goal ever since. I often set my stories in my native state of West Virginia, which because of its scenic beauty, is commonly referred to as “Almost Heaven.” I feel that it’s my job to balance that out. 

I wrote...

The Exorcist's House

By Nick Roberts,

Book cover of The Exorcist's House

What is my book about?

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia. Along with his wife, Nora, and their teenage daughter, Alice, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. At first, they are seduced by the natural beauty of the farm and enjoy the bonding experience of fixing the old house, but that all changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes. Local legends about the previous owner’s predilection for performing exorcisms come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

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The books I picked & why

The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty,

Book cover of The Exorcist

Why did I love this book?

Would we even be discussing this topic if not for William Peter Blatty’s classic novel of demonic possession? This book, inspired by the real exorcism of a Maryland boy in 1949, terrified readers when it was published in 1971. It depicts a young girl in Georgetown who may or may not be possessed. The troubled mother eventually enlists the help of a priest, and the ultimate battle of good and evil ensues. Blatty went on to write the screenplay for the equally traumatizing film and won an Academy Award for his efforts. What makes this book essential reading for preparing you for demonic possession is that it shows the step-by-step process of possession, so that you can spot the early warning signs. If you or a loved one notice your bed moving on its own, don’t run the gamut of psychological evaluations: consult your nearest self-loathing priest immediately. 

By William Peter Blatty,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Exorcist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Father Damien Karras: 'Where is Regan?'
Regan MacNeil: 'In here. With us.'

The terror begins unobtrusively. Noises in the attic. In the child's room, an odd smell, the displacement of furniture, an icy chill. At first, easy explanations are offered. Then frightening changes begin to appear in eleven-year-old Regan. Medical tests fail to shed any light on her symptoms, but it is as if a different personality has invaded her body.

Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in. Is it possible that a demonic presence has possessed the child? Exorcism seems to be the only answer...

First published…

A Head Full of Ghosts

By Paul Tremblay,

Book cover of A Head Full of Ghosts

Why did I love this book?

One problem inherent to stories involving exorcisms is the task of making the unbelievable believable. How does an author get past the barrier of making a non-religious reader buy into the premise that a Catholic priest is the only person worthy of defeating evil incarnate? Paul Tremblay cracked the exorcism code with his 2015 tale of sisterly love, demonic possession, and reality TV. If the writer can ground the reader in enough realism through character and setting, suddenly those preconceived belief systems begin to melt, at least temporarily. By telling the story from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl watching her fourteen-year-old sister slowly become possessed, Tremblay embeds an extra layer of vulnerability that draws us in. The moral of this story is that if your loved ones begin to exhibit demonic behaviors, do not try to capitalize on their struggle by enlisting a reality TV crew. 

By Paul Tremblay,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Head Full of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show.Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets…

Book cover of The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren

Why did I love this book?

Whether you believe in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s now legendary cases of paranormal investigation or not is irrelevant to enjoying this “non-fiction” book. The Warrens investigated many of the most famous hauntings from the 1950s to the 1990s—most notably, a murder/haunting in Amityville, NY, a possessed doll named, Annabelle, and a reported poltergeist in the town of Enfield in north London, England—all of which have been dramatized in popular horror movies, further expanding their legacy. The Warrens have their supporters and detractors like anyone claiming to have evidence of the paranormal. The abundance of evidence (“haunted” artifacts, such as dolls, mannequins, stuffed animals deemed responsible for paranormal activity) in the Warren’s cases, however, was stored in their own home which also operated as an occult museum. If you are suffering from the onset of demonic possession, it could be beneficial to chuck Grandma’s hand-me-down Raggedy Ann doll out the window. 

By Gerald Brittle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Demonologist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you think ghosts are only responsible for hauntings, think again. This New York Times Best Seller reveals the grave religious process behind supernatural events and how it can happen to you. Used as a text in seminaries and classrooms, this is one book you can't put down. For over five decades Ed and Loraine Warren have been considered America's foremost experts on demonology and exorcism. With thousands of investigations to their credit, they reveal what actually breaks the peace in haunted houses. Chapters include Annabelle and The Enfield Poltergeist. Don't miss the the Warrens in the hit film 'The…


By William Peter Blatty,

Book cover of Legion

Why did I love this book?

Due to the financial success of The Exorcist film, a sequel was ordered (The Exorcist II: The Heretic) which had no involvement from the original writer and director and was universally panned. William Peter Blatty then wrote a screenplay for what would have been a sequel to the original film that ignored the second entry. William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, was attached but backed out. Blatty turned his inactive script into what became the novel, Legion, which he eventually re-adapted and directed in 1990. The majority of the book is dialogue, so it’s easy to see its origins as a screenplay, but that does not make it any less effective.

This story takes a minor character from the original novel, Detective Kinderman, and chronicles his confrontation with a patient in a mental institution claiming to be possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer. How does this happen? Apparently, the demon from the first book was still super pissed about being exorcised a few years ago and thus enabled the killer’s ghost to inhabit various bodies. Though not as overtly horrific or popular as its predecessor, this story excels at building suspense interspersed with deep, philosophical monologues. The advice we can take from this story is not to underestimate how resentful demons can be. Though you may survive an exorcism, the demon’s saltiness lives on. 

By William Peter Blatty,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Legion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Exorcist -- Legion, a classic tale of horror, is back in print!

A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion. Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation?

Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface. Why does each victim suffer…

Book cover of The Amityville Horror

Why did I love this book?

What sets The Amityville Horror apart from other haunted house stories is that it is supposedly true. The objective facts are that 24-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and four siblings while they were asleep in their home. At his trial, he claimed that voices in the house told him to do it. The Lutz family moved into the home the next year and vacated the house 28 days later. According to Jay Anson’s book, the same spirits that possessed DeFeo were still doing their thing when the Lutzs moved in. A priest was told to “Get out!” and became ill while he attempted to bless the home. The family heard voices, saw mysterious figures, and were plagued by slime. They fled the premises and have maintained the validity of their story although no subsequent owners have reported anything supernatural occurring. Bottom line: don’t buy a house if the previous resident has been possessed. If you do so unknowingly, write a best-selling book about your haunting whether it happened or not.

By Jay Anson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Amityville Horror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A fascinating and frightening book” (Los Angeles Times)—the bestselling true story about a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.

In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house, but the property—complete with boathouse and swimming pool—and the price had been too good to pass up.

Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror.

This is the spellbinding, shocking true story that gripped the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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