If you’re an adult, there’s a chance you remember your time in high school one of two ways—either with great fondness or utter contempt. Whatever your experience, there are certain universal events that each one of us probably remembers: your best friend and your adventures together, your homecoming or prom, the first time you snuck out of the house to go to a party, your first heartbreak, that time you had to kidnap your best friend and perform an exorcism on her …
All right, maybe one of those situations is unique to Grady Hendrix’s latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since Abby’s disastrous birthday party at a roller-skating rink in 1982. Now it’s 1988 and the two are entering their junior year. One night, they decide to drop acid with some friends and Gretchen wanders off. She’s found before morning, but something in her changes after that night. Sure, she claims she’s fine, but Abby—always the pragmatist—thinks something is seriously wrong with her friend’s increasingly odd behavior. Abby’s conclusion? Gretchen has become possessed by a demon.
Like, sooooo totally high school, amiright?
Hendrix first grabbed my attention with 2014’s Horrorstör, an excellent haunted house story set in a Cleveland-based IKEA knockoff. Drawing comparisons to the work of Chuck Palahniuk in my mind, it’s delightfully subversive and I also recommend it. I’m still eagerly awaiting the television adaptation.
Like in Horrorstör, there are some wonderfully disgusting things that happen in My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Hendrix’s writing has a way of getting under your skin until you just want to tear it off. I won’t get into too many gory details, but there’s one scene involving a tapeworm that essentially ruined spaghetti for me.
True, it does take over one hundred pages for the plot to really kick in, but those pages are essential for building Abby and Gretchen’s friendship. Without those pages, you wouldn’t care about the two when the titular exorcism takes place. Much more than a regular horror story, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about the power and longevity of friendships.
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Ross works as a Clerk at the Mt. Washington branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He loves reading books and watching movies and will often ramble about the two here. As of this writing he’s never had to exorcise any of his friends