Continuing the trend he started last year with Horrorstor, a haunted house novel set in an IKEA-esque furniture store, Grady Hendrix’s new satirical horror novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, takes on another classic trope: demonic possession.
Hendrix describes My Best Friend’s Exorcism as Beaches meets The Exorcist, but it also reads like Heathers set in the world of Jennifer’s Body. The plot centres on BFFs Abby and Gretchen, whose lifelong friendship is tested when, after an intense LSD-fueled night in the woods, Abby becomes convinced that Gretchen is possessed by a demon.
In the tradition of young adult horror properties like Jennifer’s Body and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a riff on the old adage that high school is, indeed, hell. Anyone who has ever been a teenager will remember the hurt and confusion of watching friends transform before your eyes, becoming almost unrecognisable as they discover dating and sex, begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs, or give in to peer pressure to conform. Grady’s novel takes that idea to the extreme, but never stops being relatable as we root for Abby to save her friend.
Although not horror in the truest sense, My Best Friend’s Exorcism contains some creepy set pieces that are sure to please fans of the genre. Highlights include the events leading up to Gretchen’s “possession” (I won’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the book by confirming or denying that this is what happens) and one memorable scene involving several pounds of tapeworm that shouldn’t be read if you’re planning on eating any time soon.
Non-horror fans who grew up in the eighties are sure to enjoy the book for its nostalgia factor, with Hendrix making frequent references to the music (Phil Collins), movies (ET), and TV shows (Moonlighting) of the period.
I read this book while it was still in galley form, but the publisher has announced that like Horrorstor, which was designed to look like a sinister furniture catalogue, the final version of My Best Friend’s Exorcism will be packaged as a high school yearbook.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is now available for pre-order and will be published by Quirk Books on May 17, 2016.
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reading Copy from Quirk Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Images: 20th Century Fox