Synopsis: A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession.
The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.
Folks, I loved this book. I really, really, really loved this book.
While reading My Best Friend’s Exorcism I experienced something pretty rare — feeling myself being totally and completely enraptured in the story. If I’m lucky, that happens maybe once or twice a year . . . and it hadn’t happened at all this year — until this book, that is. At times I got frustrated while reading simply because I couldn’t take it in fast enough. I wanted more! more! more! and I wanted to gulp it all down at once. I finished this book in two sittings, and it would’ve been one if life had not briefly gotten in the way. Yeah, it’s one of those books.
What makes this novel sing is the author’s obvious affection for the decade in which the story is set — the eighties — and the careful attention to detail that brings the setting and characters to life. The story focuses on two high school sophomores, and what happens when one of them becomes possessed by a demon. The story works because Grady Hendrix takes time in building these characters up, letting their friendship grow — it feels authentic. These girls are people I knew in high school, and I’m sure any reader would recognize them as well. By the time the bad stuff starts to happen the reader will already feel a deep sense of connection to and affection for all the characters, making the build-up to the climax and the resolution all the more striking and pulse-quickening.
It must be noted that this story is not The Exorcist. Every time I hear of a book
about kids or young adults possessed by a demon or the devil, my mind immediately shifts to that ’70s William Blatty horror novel . . . But this ain’t that. Hendrix makes this tale all his own, and while it’s not as frightening or scarring, I enjoyed it just as much . . . if not moreso. There are so many pale imitations of The Exorcist out there, but My Best Friend’s Exorcism stands on its own, and manages to not only get out from under the shadow of that classic tale but avoid it completely — a remarkable feat in its own right. Major props to Hendrix for that.
In short: read this now. I haven’t loved a book this much since Owen King’s Double Feature, and that released in 2013. This is a can’t-put-it-down thriller about possession, drenched in neon colors and ’80s pop songs. It’s one of the more vibrant and fresh stories I have had the privilege of experiencing in quite some time. Scary enough for the horror audience but not too frightening for the faint hearted, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a story almost anyone can enjoy. If you’ve finished watching Stranger Things and are itching for more like it, this novel will be right up your alley. Five easy stars.