Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Ever since I was first told about this book, I have been excited to finally get to it. Frequently described as a mixture of The Exorcist and Stranger Things, with heavy influences from 80s horror novels and movies, this book had all the elements where it was likely to be a new favourite.
Best friends Abby and Gretchen have grown up together and are inseparable. One night, after Gretchen goes missing in the woods during a house party, everything changes. When she is found, there is something different, something ominous. What follows is Abby's desperate attempt to get her friend back before she is lost forever.
If you are a fan of 80s horror movies, then you have to try My Best Friend's Exorcism. It is a full on throw back to the Wes Craven movies such as The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and the Scream franchise. It has a typical set of very dramatic teenage girls as the protagonists - and I must say - this is the first time I have ever read a book with teenage protagonists where I didn't despise the lot of them, which in turn meant I didn't despise the book. A first for me! These characters were well fleshed out, had great character arcs and never took themselves too seriously. Hendrix talks about everyone being desperate for an identity but not wanting to stand out (and if that doesn't define adolescence, then I don't know what does...)
A lot of their activities and mannerisms truly reminded me of when I was younger and the things I would get up to with my friends. There were some hilarious and nostalgic details about female adolescent friendships such as writing lists about every person in your year group at school, and calling each other's houses in the middle of the night/as soon as you got home from school on the landline which would drive your parents mad. There is even the ultimate throwback with teen magazine quizzes - I honestly spent too much time filling these out and reading far too much into the outcomes...
Now let's get to the important stuff: the horror. Was I hoping for more? Yes. But the horror that was there was fantastic. Hendrix is clearly a master at body horror, and similarly to when I'm reading graphic gore, I couldn't help but make the most excruciating faces on the bus (thankfully, face masks cover this now). The book is perfectly paced, allowing you to get attached to the protagonists. He doesn't rush Gretchen's fall into terrifying madness.
There are some other additional quirks that are definitely worth mentioning. During the exorcism scene, the priest performing the ritual is a complete satire and ramps up the camp to 100. It is a spectacular take on horror comedy that gives off a similar feeling to the Scary Movie franchise. One of my favourite elements to the book was that every single chapter title was the name of a hit track of music from the 80s. There is even playlists that have been curated on streaming apps such as Apple Music and Spotify for you to get well and truly immersed into the atmosphere of the cheesy 80s. It was a perfect touch that made me want to read one chapter after the other and never put the book down.
If you're looking for the perfect over the top horror book to top off your autumnal reading, look no further - My Best Friend's Exorcism is sure to give you the nostalgic feel of any 80s horror flick.
Initial Prediction: 5 stars
Final Rating: 5 stars
Publication Date: 11 July 2017 (my edition: 17 May 2016)
Publisher: Quirk Books
# of Pages: 332