Monday, July 4, 2016

Moving Creep-Fest Serves as Tribute to Female Friendship and 1980s Pop Culture

Source: Publisher Website
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books, 2016, 336pp.)

Ah, the ’80s. When most people think of this decade, they probably think of three things: shoulder pads, big hair, and the distinctive sound of its pop music. They probably do not automatically think of Satanic cults. Alas, thanks to a commonly shared belief that lack of religion and sleazy pop culture was causing teens to turn to Satanism, the concept of demonic possession isn’t that far a reach.

The story told in My Best Friend’s Exorcism belongs to Abby and Gretchen, two childhood friends who grow up sharing late-night phone marathons, forbidden Judy Blume novels, Seventeen Magazine, make-up techniques, and later, drugs. During one drug-fueled evening at a friend’s lake house, Gretchen, a sweet, loving girl, gets lost in the woods and emerges hours later, a cruel, sadistic wraith. When Abby later learns that the woods by the lake was once the rumored site of a Satanic sacrifice, she is left to wonder: is the Devil at work?

Although the story suffers from a slow start, patient readers will be rewarded with a surprisingly moving creep-fest that is as much a tribute to female friendships and 1980s pop culture as it is to the joys (and terrors!) of high school. Yet while the heroines are both teens, I definitely would not shelve it in the teen section of your library. As I said before, the beginning is a little slow, and the plot itself is so steeped in '80s nostalgia that most teens probably wouldn't appreciate the references. That said, although it exhibits drug-use, discussions of sexual activity, and several gross-out scenes, it's nothing that most older teenage horror fans won't be able to handle.

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