Grady Hendrix gets it. If you’re wondering what it is he gets, I’m about to tell you. He gets the female mind. Gets the traumatic teen years and what it means to carry it with you into adulthood. Just like he got the soul sucking trauma of the retail workplace with his horror novel, Horrorstor, the one I tell people is like Superstore meets Hell House. His latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, (out now) could quite easily be pitched as Mean Girls meets The Exorcist.
Abby and Gretchen are best friends living in Charleston, South Carolina in 1988. Sophomores at a prestigious Catholic high school, they—together with their friends, Margaret and Glee—are all about good grades, good music, and a good time. One such good time includes dropping a little acid at a sleepover. The drug induced hang out leads Gretchen to jump into the lake naked. When she doesn’t resurface, the girls begin to panic, but Gretchen is ultimately found, shaken but otherwise okay. Hoping to write the night off as a bad trip, Abby promises Gretchen everything will be fine. But as the days move forward it becomes clear that is not the case.
Is it possible to go home again? What if that home was the last place you saw your sisters before they vanished in the blink of an eye? Would you even want to? In Laura McHugh’s sophomore novel, Arrowood (August 9; Spiegel & Grau), those questions are asked of the title character as she finds herself thrust back into the mystery that stole her youth and her sisters.
A graduate student and history buff, Arden has only to complete her thesis in order to fulfill her university requirements. Easier said than done. Dealing with a romantic fallout with one of her professors, Arden’s bad luck continues when she receives word that her father has passed away, leaving her with the surprising inheritance of the house she was raised in: Arrowood. Located in Keokuk, Iowa, Arden’s heart has always belonged to Arrowood. Rich in history and owned by her family for generations, she jumps at the opportunity to start fresh in the home she loved and was forced away from as a little girl. Encouraged by her mother, who is remarried and born again, to sell the old mansion and finish her studies, Arden feels the pull of her childhood home and can’t help but return. Her arrival becomes the talk of the town and old memories stir, the worst of which brings her back to the tragic day her twin sisters, only two-years-old at the time, went missing. Never found and the only suspect still claiming his innocence, Arden has lived with the guilt of having taken her eyes off of them for one second. Now, back in Arrowood, she wonders: Can she finally find closure or will her sisters haunt her forever?