Audio: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix @grady_hendrix @zwooman @BlackstoneAudio #LoveAudiobooks

Posted September 18, 2020 by KC in Book Review / 3 Comments

Audio: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix @grady_hendrix @zwooman @BlackstoneAudio #LoveAudiobooksMy Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on May 17, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 10 hours, 11 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

‘All skate, change directions.’  ‘Just Say No.’  ‘Gag me with a spoon.’  If you know what these sayings mean, or better yet, if you’ve actually heard them used not-ironically, I invite you to flash back to the eighties by reading My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.  This is a nostalgia-filled horror novel, which sounds odd, but actually really works.  I mean, consider the success of Stranger Things.  This could be the tale of Nancy and Barb, if Barb…well, that’s another story.  Like other books from Grady Hendrix, the text is peppered with clever news clippings and articles to illustrate and enhance the text.  The chapters are titled with eighties pop hits, which you can listen to on the Spotify playlist.  Yes, you too can be singing, “My girl likes to party all the time,” on repeat while simultaneously thanking the universe that Eddie Murphy stuck to acting.

Waiting on a Friend

“I won’t let anything bad happen.” It’s an ominous quote from Abby in the opening chapter of the book.  Abby and Gretchen meet in middle school and despite family drama and peer pressure, they remain best friends.  The summer before their senior year, a mysterious event changes Gretchen, not in a good way.  Abby watches in helpless confusion as Gretchen morphs into a completely different person.  Is it drugs?  The influence of Heavy Metal music?  It’s up to Abby to figure what is going on and how to save her friend.


This is a horror story.  I know that should be obvious, but given all the urban fantasy and paranormal books we review, I felt it was important to make that distinction.  Rather than the slasher-style horror story that takes place in a deserted insane asylum, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the insidious kind of horror; no less terrifying for taking place in a distinguished suburb of Charleston.   The actual horror in the story is somewhat overshadowed by the interpersonal relationships.  I was hard pressed to decide if this was actually a book about demonic possession or if this was just a coming-of-age allegory; that is until about two thirds of the way through.  At that point, one of the most disturbing urban legends of my preteens is brought to life in vivid, disgusting detail.  From then on, I was more invested in the horror aspect of the novel; I realized there was no way of wrapping up the story so that Abby and Gretchen could just go back to how it was ‘before.’

With or Without You

Grady Hendrix doesn’t let the heart of the story get lost in the mélange of eighties kitsch and demonic hoopla.  He methodically plots the story of Gretchen and Abby’s friendship, the realistic portrayal of which shines above the fantastic setting.  While some of the challenges Gretchen and Abby face are particular to growing up in the eighties, I think there are universal aspects of the girls’ relationship that will appeal to all readers.

Once in a Lifetime

“By the sacred strength of My Sweet Audrina and Forever,” reading My Best Friend’s Excorcism is a little bit of a walk down memory lane.  It is written in a straight-forward manner with relatable themes that don’t get bogged down in too much social commentary.  While I think this book would appeal to anyone who has had a best friend or knows someone who’s been demonically possessed, it is really the rad eighties references that make it worth the read.


The narration was well done and easy to follow.  The pacing was right where it should be, and I was easily able to distinguish between the different characters.  Because of the articles and media pieces in the text, I encourage you to check out the print or electronic copy if you are trying to decide on whether to read to listen to the book.

Listen to a clip:

About Emily Woo Zeller

Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller

Audie award-winning actor, voiceover artist, dancer, and singer Emily Woo Zeller (member SAG-AFTRA) is based in Los Angeles, though her work has been seen and heard internationally. Her wide range of work has included theater and extensive dubbing for film and television in Southeast Asia. Emily’s lifelong theater and dance work includes performance with Ellis Wood Dance, Dutch Kills Theater, FACT/SF, Facing East Dance and Music, Oracle Theater, and physical theater collective Lampazo Group.

Audiofile Magazine named Emily as one of the “Best Voices of 2015” in Nonfiction and Culture for her work on THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo and “Best Voices of 2013” in Nonfiction and Culture for her work on GULP by Mary Roach. Awards include 2018 Audie for FIRE ROAD by Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Ashley Wiersma; 2015 SOVAS VOICE ARTS AWARD for THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo; 2015 Audie Nomination for her work on THE BEAM: SEASON 1 by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant; Audiofile Magazine Earphones Awards for narrations of THE POPPY WAR by R. F. Kuang; FIRE ROAD by Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Ashley Wiersma, AFTER THE ECLIPSE by Sarah Perry, KITCHEN CHINESE by Ann Mah, UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee, THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo, GULP by Mary Roach, and TIES THAT BIND, TIES THAT BREAK by Leslie Namioka; the 2009 Tristen Award for Best Actress as Sally Bowles in CABARET; and the 2006 Roselyn E. Schneider Prize for Creative Achievement.

Emily holds a degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Dance and Performance Studies, with a minor in Nutritional Sciences. She is a certified yoga teacher.

About Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called “lies,” and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes accidentally pay him for. He is the author of Horrorstör, the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture store you’ll ever need. It has been translated into 14 languages and is being turned into a movie from the people who made quality films like 1917 and Black Swan. Foolishly, they are paying Grady to write it. He is busy inserting a whole lot of tutus into it right now.

His novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties, is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist and it caused the Wall Street Journal to call him “a national treasure” and received rave reviews from everyone from Kirkus to Southern Living. Surprisingly, this is still not enough for him to earn his mother’s love.

Refusing to stop trying to prove himself to his family, he also wrote Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom in the Seventies and Eighties. It is so popular it won a Stoker Award, and while you may not know what that is, trust me when I say that it is a big, big deal that gets Grady 20% off all purchases at the Franklin Mint. His next novel was We Sold Our Souls, a heavy metal take on the Faust legend, which hit bookstores in 2018 and got selected as one of the best books of 2018 by Library Journal, the Chicago Public library, and, finally, his mom. It’s also one of Locus’s recommended novels of 2018 and earned him an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books that makes him sound like some kind of smart person or something. He’s not.

His latest novel is the New York Times bestseller, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which is being turned into a TV series by Amazon right now because they own everything. In a surprise twist, this book is actually about a Southern vampire getting clubbed to death with books by the band, Slayer.

Grady Hendrix used to be a journalist, which means that he was completely irrelevant and could be killed and turned into food at any time. He is one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, but he is not responsible for the bad parts of it. He is also not Asian. For years he was a regular film critic for the New York Sun but then it went out of business. He has written for Playboy Magazine, Slate, The Village Voice, the New York Post, Film Comment, and Variety. He has a hard time making up his mind.

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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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Posted September 18, 2020 by KC in Book Review / 3 Comments

3 responses to “Audio: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

  1. My Best Friend’s Excorcism sounds like a fun read. I love the 80’s and horror so I need to add this to my TBR. Glad you enjoyed it!