If The Exorcist had been authored by Tina Fey instead of William Peter Blatty, it might have borne an uncanny resemblance to what Grady Hendrix has accomplished with My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
Readers may know Hendrix from his previous gem, Horrorstör, which was styled like a certain Swedish furniture store’s catalog. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is just as visually appealing, including elements that recall a high school yearbook—student photos capturing 1980s style, cheesy quotes and a color scheme that would make any Trapper Keeper-toting, slap-bracelet-wearing high school student feel fresh.
We meet lead characters Abby and Gretchen during fifth grade. It is 1982, and Abby is an E.T. aficionado determined to win the admiration of her classmates via her mad roller-skating skills. Gretchen is the quiet new girl—and the only attendee of Abby’s disastrous 11th birthday party. This awkward encounter forges a friendship that deepens until high school, but then . . . possession strikes! After a mysterious summer night filled with illicit teenage fun, Gretchen suddenly turns on her friends, including Abby. But is she possessed, or is she just being a teenager? Abby thinks she knows the answer, but either way, the fates of Abby and Gretchen depend upon the strength of their bond.
With scenes gruesome enough to satisfy any horror fan (you won’t look at milkshakes the same way after finishing this one), Hendrix has created a genre-ambiguous story that demonstrates a real understanding of teenage friendships. Using his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, as a backdrop allows Hendrix to give the neighborhoods, families and attitudes of the era an authentic feel. Fans of satire, nostalgia, dark comedy and, well, demons should read this book.