Book Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism
by Grady Hendrix
"I love you, Gretchen Lang. You are my reflection and my shadow and I will not let you go."
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, and don't expect that to change anytime soon. However, one summer in the 1980's when the girls are in high school, Gretchen starts to act like a completely different person; like, the old Gretchen Abby knew and loved so much isn’t even there anymore. And this isn't the typical changes everyone goes through in high school, this is something...abnormal. As if that isn’t weird enough, creepy things start to happen whenever Gretchen is around - birds dying by the hundreds, her friends getting injured in the strangest ways, and much much worse. Abby soon comes to the conclusion that there can only be one thing wrong with her best friend: she’s possessed.
Read If You Liked: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, Strangers Things, The Exorcist (1973)
Fans of horror absolutely need to check out Grady Hendrix. He is a phenomenal writer and I have loved everything of his that I have read so far. In fact, I am in the process of reading one of his most recent novels, We Sold Our Souls, and can not put it down! He is the best horror writer I have read in a very long time. His work is genuinely disturbing but also incredibly heartfelt and real. His is the kind of psychological horror that sticks with you long after the story has ended and the book is closed.
This book is everything I was hoping for with a title like My Best Friend's Exorcism, and so much more than I was expecting at the same time. It is an unusual mix of horror, the strength of friendship, and pitch black comedy that works together in strange perfection. I found myself laughing out loud at some parts, genuinely touched by others, and thoroughly scared all the way through. I have never before felt such conflicting emotions during the course of one book. I actually felt like crying at the end, which I certainly didn’t expect at all from a book that, at first glance, seemed like the novelization of a cheesy 80s horror movie.
Hendrix's writing is a lot more disturbing than I was expecting it to be, as I figured the book would lean more towards the goofy parody side of the horror genre. Nonetheless, each chapter never failed to bring increasingly shocking scenes. At the same time though, this book was surprisingly heartwarming and sweet. The friendship between Abby and Gretchen was so pure and made you root for them throughout the book’s entirety, despite the…changes... that Gretchen goes through. The mark of a good horror story are characters that you actually like and can relate to. If you do not care about whether the characters live or die, then, in my eyes, the whole story line is pointless and the writer has failed. There is no fear or suspense if you couldn’t care less about what happens to the people in the story you are being told. A reader must be able to put themselves into the shoes of a character in order to feel the same fear that they do. Hendrix does not have this problem in the slightest and his characters are beautifully written and fully dimensional.
To call Grady Hendrix a genius writer feels a bit dramatic, but I am so tempted to do so. That just stands as a testament of how impressed I am with his talent and his ability to craft stories. At the very least, his ability to write likable characters that thrive just as much in horror situations as they do in comedic ones, is masterful. For those who are fans of horror, this book a fun twist on the genre and I highly recommend it.