My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – My Review

“But mostly, she remembers what happened to Gretchen and how everything got so fucked up back in 1988, the year her best friend was possessed by the devil.”

― Grady Hendrix, My Best Friend’s Exorcism

My Quick Review:

My Best Friend’s Exorcism was an enjoyable read, with substantial world building and character development. There were frustrating elements, and some references that can be seen as offensive today. I found the horror aspect lacking in parts and found that I wanted more ‘The Exorcist’ and less ‘Mean Girls’. Overall, even though this is technically a horror story, I think this book, at it’s core, is about the strength and endurance of friendship and I am glad I read it.

Category: Horror

Pages: 337

Publisher: Quirk Books

Release Date: 17/05/2016

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Horror (2016)

Synopsis:

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act….different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

My Review (may contain slight spoilers):

My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows the coming of age story, and friendship of Abby and Gretchen, two high school sophomores in South Carolina. During the summer of 1988, Gretchen (don’t worry this is not a spoiler, it’s literally in the title) is possessed by the Devil! No one will believe Abby, but she knows Gretchen better than anyone, and Abby knows something is wrong. Thankfully, there happens to be a friendly neighborhood exorcist that just might be able to help…

So where do I begin? Well, overall I did enjoy this book. The way Grady Hendrix sets the scene is immaculate and the world building is immersive, you truly feel like you are in a 1980’s summer horror flick, with references to huge hair, Stevie Wonder, and a “crapped-out Volkswagen Rabbit”. The characters are well developed, and I found myself truly empathizing with Abby at times. Even though Gretchen displayed cliché signs of possession (vomiting lots of green stuff. talking in different voices, etc…), I found myself thoroughly gripped throughout. The pacing was excellent, there wasn’t a moment in which I found myself wanting the story to speed up. I also found the juxtaposition between the almost child like perspective and sometimes horrific content very immersive.

However, with all of that being said, I just wanted…more. I read A LOT of horror, and demonic possession is one of my all time favourite genres, so perhaps I went into this book with too high an expectation. But there wasn’t a single moment in which I was remotely scared, which was a big disappointment for me. Gretchen succumbs to a classic series of possession illnesses, with bad breath, a sour smell, and yellow crust round her mouth (ugh) to name a few. However, once she is past those stages, Gretchen simply becomes the mean girl at school. I was hoping for some truly horrific scenes to go down in this book, but instead I felt like I was reading a high school drama. And this for me, is what let this book down.

Conclusion:

Overall, I would recommend My Best Friend’s Exorcism for those readers who do not have high expectations when it comes to horror. It was entertaining, immersive and snappy.

3.5/5

“I love you, Gretchen Lang. You are my reflection and my shadow and I will not let you go. We are bound together forever and ever! Until Halley’s Comet comes around again. I love you dearly and I love you queerly and no demon is bigger than this!”

― Grady Hendrix, My Best Friend’s Exorcism

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