Reviewed by Christy
In Grady Hendrix’s novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix tells the story of two teenage best friends fighting off demon possession in the late 80s. Curious as to what kind of parents these girls might’ve had, he wrote The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. In it, a book club full of harried housewives have to face off with a monster when a stranger comes to town and slowly infiltrates every aspect of their life. When a book is described as “Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meets Dracula” how on earth could anyone say no?
Like his novels We Sold Our Souls and the aforementioned My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix’s newest work has the retro, fun vibe (it spans the early - mid 90s) but it’s also unexpectedly touching at times. Patricia is excited to welcome James to the neighborhood. He’s sexy and mysterious and adds a small thrill to her other otherwise humdrum life. She’s married to Carter, a psychiatrist who is a neglectful father and a dismissive husband. Her two children are getting older and more scornful by the day. Between car pools, cleaning, cooking, laundry and more, she never has a moment to herself. When she does ask for help, she’s met with disdain and disbelief (“What else do you even do all day?”). A new face in town adds a spark to her day.
This will probably come as no surprise but James is not who he seems. He’s dangerous, and he’s a threat to everything Patricia knows and loves. She does everything in her power to convince her friends in the book club to battle this unknown entity. Hendrix’s characters are well developed, and the friendships so relatable and strong that you can’t help but root for them. The male characters know their place in society and use it to their advantage ruthlessly. When vaguely told James is shady, they jump at the chance to give the new guy in town the benefit of the doubt, rather than believe their wives of many years. As minor antagonists, they are not cartoonish. They’re familiar.
Striking a balance with his social commentary, Hendrix also writes some really great gross-out scenes. After a character hides under a decaying, bug-infested quilt, I had to take a break so the itching would stop. Hendrix has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books are just so fun while still plucking a heartstring now and then. I was a little hesitant to pick up this book just because I knew I would read it fast and then have to start the long wait for his next one. That is exactly what happened.
**I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**