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Review: ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism CoverGrady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism appeals to the nostalgia of those born around or before the 80’s. The music, the hair the clothes. For that, it was a fun read, but plotwise? Meh.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism suffers from much the same as Grady Hendrix’s previous novel Horrorstor. It was all bark and no bite. The plot lacked substance and development. The relationship between the teenage girls and their friendship was interesting to read about, but ultimately not a lot happened, and what did happen was just a bit silly.

There were moments that could have been quite psychologically poignant, but just ultimately didn’t deliver, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism had none of the truly terrifying moments that we had in Horrorstor. It doesn’t seem fair to compare the two books as the style and plot is vastly different, however as they both exist within the scope of the same genre one could be forgiven that we should have felt a few chills along the way.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism gives very little away. We are left wondering whether the events of the novel were supernatural or simple psychological. This could have been done far more effectively however. There are moments the point to psychological damage and the possibility of abuse, and yet none of these things are never fully explored. There is the suggestion that changes in certain characters’ behaviour are sparked by truly traumatic events in their lives, but again, this is never fully explored. This could have been such a bitter sweet novel of friendship conquering terrible abuse, but instead we had a rather shallow horror story that somehow fell flat.

I enjoyed reading, and I flew through it relatively quickly My Best Friend’s Exorcism, but it was a distraction more than anything. I would have liked a bit more depth to the narrative and the characters, and more than anything a bit more horror. The whole novel just left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

 

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Review: ‘Horrorstör’ by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstor Horrorstör was a five star concept with five star execution…for the first third of the novel. The later stages are bogged down by their own concept, and fail to pack the punch that the opening chapters do.

The design and concept for this book are flawless. The cover looks exactly like a faux-kea catalogue, and the chapter design presents as a catalogue, complete with product descriptions, that get increasingly bleaker as the story progresses.

The opening chapters perfectly encapsulate the soul crushing reality of retail life; a theme that develops throughout the narrative. The characters are trapped in the treadmill of retail capitalism, all of them trying to stay afloat in their own way, and get out at the same time. The first few hours the characters spend alone in the deserted Orsk had some genuinely spine-chilling moments. The skewing of their reality was beautifully written, and felt absolutely believable. As the plot became more convoluted in later chapters however it lost a lot of the tension which had built up so beautifully up until then.

The characters were interesting, however I felt that they were under-developed. Our protagonist is Amy, and her story arc was the strongest, and yet felt somehow unsatisfactory as we got to the end. The pacing was a little off in the heavy horror parts, as Amy seemed to come to terms with her mental torture a little too quickly and easily. The remaining secondary characters were rather two dimensional, and the antagonist wasn’t as threatening or as scary as he should have been.

This book had loads of potential, and I think with a slight re-write to keep the pace and satire of the opening this could have been a five star book. It was fun to read, but just didn’t deliver on the promise of its opening. For the concept alone it is definitely worth picking up, and despite it’s weak ending I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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