Grady Hendrix: MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM

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It’s 1988 and everything is perfect.

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since they were ten.

They’ve shared everything. They eat together. They play volleyball together. They share the same group of friends and sleep over at each other’s houses, even on weeknights. When Abby has terrible, awful skin problems, Gretchen buys her make-up. When Gretchen isn’t allowed certain kinds of music, Abby introduces her to Madonna. They sing Billy Joel at the top of their lungs and call each other at 11:06 every night.

And then a demon possesses Gretchen.

Abby watches Gretchen grow distant, dirty, and overall just not herself. To Abby, it seems like everywhere Gretchen goes, evil, destruction, and chaos follow. As the one who knows Gretchen best, Abby is the only one who can truly help her.

Abby will have to call upon an unlikely exorcist, her love for Gretchen, and a different brand of faith to get her best friend back.

The back of the book says it best. “My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession.” This book? It’s like someone combined The Exorcist and Breakfast Club. The Omen and Sixteen Candles.

Fire up the DeLorean, this book takes you to the past and gives you everything you could expect from a demonic possession story (vomit, blood, and evil) while simultaneously pulling you along a classic 1980’s high school story that spills over with the usual tropes of love, best friend adventures, and a solid soundtrack. When it’s over, you’re left in a puddle crying, wanting more.

Damn you, Grady Hendrix. Damn you for writing the perfect book.

Joe Hill: Strange Weather

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Strange Weather,

a collection of four short novels by Joe Hill, is aptly named because it deals with climates—and not just the obvious ones.

One dictionary definition of climate is: “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period”; but the one I’m looking for is this: “the prevailing trend of public opinion or of another aspect of public life.” 

2017 has seen some strange weather, indeed, and I’m not just talking about the hurricanes in Houston and Puerto Rico and Florida, or the fires in California and Montana (note: these are examples, not comprehensive lists.) I’m talking about more than just the climate-climate; I’m talking about the political climate, the social climate, the global climate. I’m talking about the frightening clown-show (yes, scarier even than the kind of clown horror generated by anyone in the King family) that is the Trump administration; our country’s morbid fascination with guns, and the subsequent epidemic of gun violence; the hateful, bigoted underbelly of our nation, thick and infectious like a layer of gangrene; the global unrest and worldwide fear and threats of terror and war.

This collection is filled with torrential rain, fires that devour, clouds that aren’t clouds, rain that isn’t truly rain. Strange Weather is not lacking in apocalyptic atmospheric conditions, but incredibly enough, the bizarre weather isn’t the scariest element of the book. The weather is more like the vehicle that drives the story, but the true terror lies with the passengers: humanity. Through this novel we, as readers, bear witness to the most terrifying thing of all: what human beings are capable of doing to each other.

It’s as though Hill has included all of his emotions and dismay about the current state of the world in one book—and yet he manages to do this without arrogant commentary, without preaching, without sacrificing story, and with a whole lot of heart. The stories are beautifully told and painfully cathartic to read.

For anyone who’s been watching the events of the nation and world unfold this year saying what the fuck? with increasing levels of panic, disbelief, and despair: this book is for you.*

*This review originally appeared on Dwarf + Giant