“Oh, I didn’t mean to frighten you prematurely; the real chills come later. Now, as they say, look alive…”
Greetings, Evil Geeks! As Halloween fast approaches, our last few ‘Hall-O-Reads” are upon us as well. But, not to fret, I have some great reads to get us through until the big day. Although the reviews I’ve done thus far have all been comic books, I decided to include a novel that I think might be one of my favorite horror titles thus far.
Stranger Things has definitely peaked my interest in the simpler time of the 1980’s, and I’ve always been a fan of nostalgia, so when I saw this title in my local book store, I couldn’t resist picking it up. They say not to judge a book by it’s cover — but when the cover has art as cool as this one, I think it’s justified. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is by far, the best horror title I have read in a while. The premise is essentially teen-angst movie, mixed with pure horror and Exorcist goodness. Think Jennifer’s Body, but well written, and actual quality. Many of the reviews compare it to Heathers as well, and I think it’s definitely an accurate comparison.
The story is about Abby, lonely, homely and awkward, finding a friend in the new girl in town, Gretchen. Gretchen’s parents are strict and, like many other people in the time, live in fear of Satanism. So, imagine their shock and disbelief when their daughter starts acting very unlike herself. Soon, Gretchen’s little attitude adjustments start causing more problems than just average, run of the mill high school drama, and Abby has to enlist the help of an exorcist to rid the demon from her best friend’s body.
The story is actually surprisingly relatable, and the symbolism of a “friend possessed by a demon” is definitely on par with some of my own high school friends. We’ve all had that one friend who leaves us to “go to the dark side”, so to speak, and might be acting differently now that they’ve entered high school age. I found Hendrix’s writing to be extremely captivating, his sharp wit coupled with the way he conveys the typical 80’s tropes come across on the page like a John Hughes’ film would on the screen. I found myself wondering who they would cast in a film version, and could very easily see this story play out on the screen. (Sean and James Gunn, you should take this one on…I’m begging you!)
This story is equal parts hilarious and dark, giving you just the right amount of scary and silly. It’s also quite a quick read, I literally left a convention after-party to come back to my room and read this one, and that’s saying something! The ending is quite surprising as well, and also kind of emotional. I definitely didn’t expect that from this book, but it really was a wild ride from start to finish. Additionally, the each chapter of the story has an 80’s hit song as the title — which actually makes for an excellent playlist to jam out to while you read the book. I’ve actually created a playlist for it, that you can listen to here!
I definitely think this should be added to everyone’s libraries, but would recommend this one for YA audiences particularly, as there are some scenes that might be too delicate for some little stomachs. This one is a must read for the Halloween season!