Have you ever wanted a book to just really deliver on its name? My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (author of Horrorstor) will give you what you signed up for. It will give you best friendship, and an exorcism, and that huge side of kitsch and nostalgia that you probably also had your fingers crossed for after a glimpse at the cover.
Now I might have been an 80s baby, but I was not an 80s kid. Even so, after years of rifling through my older sister’s seventeen magazines during those early years, I’m prone to letting the waves of 80s nostalgia wash over me nearly as much as the 90s. I was braced (if not eager for) the references but as I saw that each chapter led with the title of an 80s song, I grew concerned that the references might overshadow the story. These fears were quickly exorcised and laid peacefully to rest. Hendrix is skilled at making the world of his characters meaningful to them, and by extension, meaningful to the reader. Callbacks are skillfully used to keep the main characters attached at the soul.
Abby was suddenly very aware of the phone in her hand, her body on the bed, the thinness of the walls, how her window wasn’t locked, of the darkness pressing against the glass.
I was also pleasantly surprised that this horror story didn’t venture into shock value. There are genuinely eerie moments that hold their impact through what we don’t “see”. But even when the prose directly subjects us to the more gruesome side of this curse, and even when parts of this curse are related to femininity (with a male author at the helm), nothing ventures into exploitation, even when events are, by necessity, shocking. Of course, “No two persons ever read the same book” and others may find that it goes too far for their personal tastes.
The book is also quite funny, with its sense of humor falling on the dark, weird side (as if you would guess otherwise from the title). It’s a simple read, with action that tonally matches its teenaged players. It works the same way that most teen horror flicks work, but centers around a deep female friendship instead of the main character’s sexual relations with a high school quarterback.
330 pages. Wicked friend romp. Recommend.