Spooktober, Day 25: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

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“By the power of Phil Collins, I rebuke you!” she said. “By the power of Phil Collins, who knows that you coming back to me is against all odds, in his name I command you to leave this servant of Genesis alone.”

Unlike most of the books on this list, I finished reading My Best Friend’s Exorcism recently. I’ll admit that this is one of those books I got solely based on the title, which in some ways is in some ways quite misleading. True, the protagonist has a best friend and true, said friend undergoes an exorcism, but the title put me more in mind of a light-hearted comedy— a bit like Good Omens, maybe— instead of the sweet but often quite dark horror novel I got instead.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is set in the late 80s and wears its love for the 80s with pride: from the fashions to the musical references, to the word choices is like, totally radical. Abby and Gretchen have been friends since they were little, even though they come from very different backgrounds. Until one summer day when, during a drug-induced bender, Gretchen goes missing and comes back… different. As Gretchen’s personality changes and her health deteriorates, strange misfortunes begin to afflict the pair and their friends. Slowly, Abby begins to suspect the impossible: that Gretchen’s body has been taken over by a demon.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism wears its influences on its sleeves, from The Exorcist to The Breakfast Club. At its core is a tender story about friendship against adversity, spiced at times with jet-dark horror and a cynical take on the grown-up world around our young heroines. It’s an easy, fun read that makes me picture neon wallpaper and boy-band posters and a world where every child had a landline phone in their bedroom. And like a lot of the books we’ve encountered during Spooktober, it’s not really about the exorcism, but about two friends who are struggling to cope with an impossible situation. It’s worth looking into if you’re nostalgic for roller blades and the Go-Gos, or if you want something that puts a fun spin on traditional horror tropes.

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