#BookReview: IMAGINARY FRIEND by Stephen Chbosky @GrandCentralPub

Publication: 6th October 2020 (paperback) – Grand Central Publishing

Instant New York Times Bestseller

One of Fall 2019’s Best Books (People, EW, Lithub, Vox, Washington Post, and more)

A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this acclaimed epic of literary horror from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Christopher is seven years old.

Christopher is the new kid in town.

Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six long days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.

AMAZON

***********

I don’t read many horror books, almost none at all. They terrify me, they make me check that doors and windows are locked at night, but when they are also gripping and you can’t stop reading them, they are worth the chills and the door checking and Imaginary Friend is definitely worth it.

“Don’t leave the street. They can’t get you if you don’t leave the street.”

Christopher Reese and his mother Kate move to Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, to start a new life. Kate’s struggling to make ends meet while Christopher is struggling at school. One afternoon, he wanders into the Mission Street Woods and he is only found six days later with no memory of the missing time. After Christopher’s return, their luck turns, but Christopher also starts to behave strangely and he is not the only one in town.

First of all, yes, the book is long, more than 700 pages, but every page, every scene, every subplot, every perspective counts. I was glued to the pages, immersed in the engaging and dark story, the real and imaginary worlds, the excellent characters, the hissing woman, the mailbox people, the nice man, and the surprising and genius last sentence.

The characters are brilliant. I really liked the characters of Christopher and Kate as humans. Their struggle, their suffering, the poverty, the abuse… I really felt for them. I loved how strong their relationship is, how they love each other and would do anything to protect each other. Other favorites are the sheriff (who I kept picturing as Jim Hopper from Stranger Things), who has demons from his past to face, and Ambrose, still grieving over the death of his younger brother fifty-years earlier.

The author created quite an original and incredible story with the build-up of the suspense, the haunting aspects, and the vivid descriptions that may give nightmares. There are themes of religion (which has a strong presence in the story), of good versus evil, of mental illness and sexual abuse which don’t make for an easy read, but Imaginary Friend is a terrific and memorable story and I won’t easily forget it.

A huge thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of the novel.

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