Author: David Seltzer
Genre: Horror, Fiction, Film Tie-in
First Published: 1976
David Seltzer, writer of the screenplay, succeeds in writing a horror story that will terrify you, and yet you still won’t be able to put it down!
In Rome one night, American diplomat Robert Thorn exchanges his dead child for a new-born orphan. No one, not even his wife, knows of the swap. As the boy, Damien, grows older, strange events start happening. First, his Nanny dies in strange circumstances, and then a suspicious new Nanny and ferocious black dog appear to take care of him. Kathy, Robert’s wife has a serious accident and a peculiar old priest stalks Thorn to tell him that his son is the spawn of the devil. As the deaths begin to increase, Thorn must race across Rome, Jerusalem and London to try and unravel the truth. With an almost unbearable cliff-hanger at the end, you’ll want to pick up the next novel straight away to find out what happens next!
The novel version of ‘The Omen’ is written by the same author as that of the 1976 screenplay. Being aware of this fact, I wasn’t sure how the story would read. However, the novel itself is well written, and the only indication of it being written by a screenwriter is the amount of dialogue used. This does not take away from the essence of the story however, and the more of the novel you read, the more you are drawn in to the characters, who are very well constructed and believable.
The plot itself does take a little while to pick up, but once the first death has occurred, the pace picks up dramatically and the strange events become more and more frequent. By the time I was half way through the novel, I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. The plot swiftly moves from unnerving to thoroughly scary as you progress. I was very impressed by the fact that the story managed to put me on edge – only very few novels successfully manage to be perceived as scary, so Seltzer has handled this very well.
I haven’t seen the film ‘The Omen,’ so I cannot compare the book to the film; however, as they were both written by the same man, it is likely that they will be similar. I believe that some alternative names were used in the book, and Seltzer was able to develop the character histories more fully (as suggested by the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omen#Novels) Now I have finished the book, I am considering avoiding the film, because if I found the book scary, the film will frighten the life out of me! I do, however, want to start reading the other four books in the series!
Favourite quote: ‘From the Eternal Sea he rises. Creating armies on either shore. Turning man against his brother. ‘Til man exists no more!’
Rating: 9/10 (10/10 for scariness!)