My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Abby and Gretchen were best friends until they dropped acid at a party. Now, Gretchen's been acting strangely, letting her appearance going to shit, and Abby's worried. But Gretchen will soon give her something to really worry about...
After the nirvana that was Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction, I had to give Grady Hendrix's fiction a shot.
Set during the satanic panic of the 1980s, My Best Friend's Exorcism is the story of the friendship between two girls and the possessing demon that drove a wedge between them. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't precisely this. It feels more like a Megan Abbott book, a window into the lives of teenage girls than a horror novel.
While it's set in the 80s, My Best Friend's Exorcism doesn't beat you over the head with nostalgia. There are musical references but the culture of the time is the main 80s feature imported into the novel. Satanists are everywhere and they'll stop at nothing to take over the world!
The inter-girl politics between Abby, Gretchen, and their friends was very well done and believable. I was never a a moment when I thought "There's clearly a dude writing this." The book is compulsively readable. I wolfed it down in four sittings. I would have gotten it in two but people kept wanting to talk to me during my lunch breaks. Fuckers.
It felt more like a suspense novel a lot of the time but there were still some horrific moments that I won't go into here. I was telling my wife about one particular incident and she was pretty impressed.
It wasn't perfect, however. The editing was a little sloppy. I noticed one character called the wrong name and one instance of someone's wrists and ankles tied to a bed post but with her hands at her sides. Did she suddenly have four arms?
Anyway, those minor quibbles aside, I enjoyed My Best Friend's Exorcism quite a bit. I'll be reading more of Grady Hendrix's fiction. Four out of five stars.
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