Published on August 10th, 2018 | by Justin Bruce1
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
If you’re looking for a fun read that is equal parts comedy and horror, check out 2016’s ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism,’ by author Grady Hendrix.
Grady Hendrix’s 2016 novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism was one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a while. A familiar coming-of-age tale permeates a pretty outrageous storyline and manages a strange sense of relatability. Hendrix has a very cinematic style of writing that made for a leisurely read and helped both the horror and comedic elements of the story stick with me in the weeks since finishing the book. There’s no denying that My Best Friend’s Exorcism has its flaws, but if the idea of a novel that reads like a cross between The Exorcist and Wet Hot American Summer sounds like something that would peak your interest, I’d suggest giving it a read.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about a teenage girl named Abby and her, you guessed it, best friend, Gretchen. Besties since elementary school, Abby and Gretchen’s worlds are thrown for a loop when, following a bad acid trip, Gretchen’s behaviour starts to frighten her pal. While Gretchen’s friends and family brush off her demeanor as simple teenage girl stuff, Abby knows the truth; her best friend is possessed by an evil force. I know that might sound a little cheesy, and that’s because it is. But that’s part of the book’s charm. The bullshit high school problems sprinkled throughout the book helped keep the bizarre story grounded.
The book strikes a great balance between humour and horror, with Grady Hendrix’s style of writing often reading like scenes from a film. His description of the physical torment of those possessed had me shuddering at times:
“…the muffled noises started to sound wet and sticky, and Abby
saw some pale and white squirming in the blackness of [her]
gullet, curling around her tonsils”
While the 80’s nostalgia kick is getting pretty stale lately, it does add to the story here. And despite references to the decade appearing a lot throughout My Best Friend’s Exorcism, it doesn’t feel forced or unnatural. Similarly, Hendrix’s sense of humour throughout can be a little over the top but it never feels out of place. There are plenty of instances of this, but here’s the one that synched it for me:
“You are baptized, aren’t you? …I’ll be doing some serious blasting
of prayer and if you’re not girded with the full Armor of God, you
might not make it through with your soul intact.”
Hendrix’s visual style of storytelling kept my interest throughout the book’s 300+ pages, mostly.
Not to sound too cynical, but it’s hard for me to think of a recent read where I didn’t have some issue with its ending. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is no exception. Grady Hendrix just didn’t seem to know when to call it a day. The novel had a few seemingly easy places to end but just kept going. The last handful of pages are devoted to a very brief outline of what unfolded in decades following the exorcism. With all that’s happened throughout the book, knowing that one of the characters gets a divorce later in life seems quite trivial. There’s no set up to this or any of the other events tacked on to the end of My Best Friend’s Exorcism that would give them any real power. Had the novel ended shortly after the exorcism, I felt it would have been much more impactful.
All in all, I really enjoyed My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I might skip the last chapter were I to revisit it, but it was generally a blast to read. If you’re a fan of horror comedies and are looking for a fairly breezy read, I’d recommend giving this novel a chance.