The Omen - David Seltzer

(The Omen, #1)

A young nursemaid dies for the sake little Damien... A priest is speared to death for revealing the horrifying truth about the birth of Damien... In a peaceful zoo, animals rend themselves to bits in a death frenzy caused by the sight of Damien... For a world-renowned diplomat and his wife, "accident" follows "accident" from Rome to London to Jerusalem, as they are stalked by a terror they cannot understand, a terror that centers on their son Damien...and his ominous birthmark. Is ultimate evil to be released upon an unsuspecting unprepared world because of Damien? WHO IS DAMIEN...?

The Omen, by David Seltzer, was written after the film was produced. It focuses, of course, on the birth of a young boy to a successful diplomatic family who have immeasurable influence on the world. I would be surprised if you didn't know the plot already but just in case: Ambassador Robert Thorne and his wife Kathy have a child, Damien, who - at the age of 5 - begins to change. People start dying and weird warnings erupt from all sides. Robert begins suspicious and slowly begins to believe that his son is the antichrist.

Plenty of suspense is cast throughout the novel; the theme is always dark and heavy on foreboding. The ending is a great climatic event, almost the entire book is used to drive up to that point.

While nothing unbelievably shocking occurs every turn of the page, as in some novels, when something does occur it is brutal. This book is definitely not boring. I especially enjoyed the little added text from the bible that Thorn is reading, leaving us to form our own theories - while watching him form HIS.

The little boy is shown as adorable, and yet odd. The author did an excellent job in creating the well-rounded personality the child possessed; while at times we saw him as the evil being we knew he was, our hearts cannot help but ache a bit when we read something cute and childlike he did out of confusion or innocence. The mother, Kathy, is written as an overall fragile character who is overwhelmed by the current events. For a change we are not reading about the hardened, take-on-all females; she is very realistic, and also very sweet in nature. In fact, all the characters are basically likable (the ones that are on the good side of things anyway), causing a deeper sense of loss when one perishes.

Damien isn't the main character here -- it is instead in the lap of Ambassador Thorn. He is responsible yet caring; level headed, and his feet planted firmly on earth, and yet no one can ignore the events that begin unfolding before his eyes. How he handles things is interesting and not completely predictable.

I try and refrain from comparing films to books, but I will say that there are scenes in the novel version that were missing in the film [or added for bulk]. Mostly surrounding the photographer Jennings, who for an odd reason, is likable while his personality really isn't all that great.

The pace is great from the start. Nothing overly climactic at the beginning but everything that happens is interesting; I never grew bored. The style isn't as simple as some other "movie-books" and for this I was glad. It all comes across well written. Nothing is overly frightening about the events, but the theme itself is deeply disturbing, and Seltzer did an excellent job transferring film to page.

Do yourself a favor; if you enjoy religious horror or apocalyptic plots, hunt yourself down a copy of little Damien's upbringing.

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