Thursday, September 29, 2016

She remembers when the word "friend" could draw blood

Hendrix has this ability to write a book that you think is going to be funny. Sure, it says it's going to be scary. But then it has a sort of ridiculous premise (it's a haunted knock-off Ikea! It's '80s nostalgia!) and you're like "whatever scary elements you add, they won't really be that scary because of said ridiculous setting". And that's when he goes "Oh you're right. None of this will ever be scary. You should probably just let your guard down." And then YOU DO and you are hit in the face with some legitimately scary stuff and way to play right into his hands.

But outside of being an actually scary*, it's an excellent story about female friendship. By a dude, I know, but it's OK. Hendrix does a good job here, writing a friendship that feels like a real friendship and doesn't fall into weird stereotypes. The friendship is really the central part of the story. It's not just anyone's exorcism. It's her best friend's. Right there in the title.

Abby and Gretchen have been friends since elementary school, despite Abby coming from the wrong side of town. But then something happens. The girls are out on the lake with a couple friends when Gretchen goes missing. When they finally find her she's different. She stops caring about schoolwork, hygiene. She can't sleep. She won't eat. And she won't say exactly what's wrong or what happened to her that night. But clearly something has happened and things just go from bad to worse.

I won't say more but there is teen drama and betrayals and of course, the titular exorcism. There's even a strongman exorcist cos sure, why not. But most of the story, until like the last 100 pages or so, is buildup and a lot of it feels like it could be a teen coming-of-age story with no horror in sight.

There's lots of '80s pop culture and camp and this would probably make a super fun movie.

I liked the premise of Horrorstor but thought it started stronger than it ended (though the false doors in Ikea still creep me out). But I feel like Hendrix was able to (for the most part) avoid that problem here. Some of the ending seemed a bit rushed at points, but there were also moments in it I really liked, so other problems were forgiven. This was one of the most fun books I've read so far this year.

Thank you, Sarah, for a copy of this book. And for the kick ass unicorn sticker.

Gif rating:
*For those of you not into horror stuff, it's not on the same level as say a King. It's just more than you might expect.

Title quote from page 10

Hendrix, Grady. My Best Friend's Exorcism. Quirk Books, 2016.