Imaginary Friend

Grand Central. Oct. 2019. 720p. ISBN 9781538731338. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781538731345. HORROR
Seven-year-old Christopher is the new kid in Mill Grove, PA, the fairly secluded town where his single mother, Kate Reese, decided to settle down after leaving an abusive relationship. Christopher struggles in school, Kate needs a job, and they don’t have much money, but at least they have each other. Then Christopher disappears for six days. When he emerges from the Mission Street Woods, their luck begins to improve, but Christopher is changed. He finds himself drawn back into the woods where he hears a voice and is given a mission. As he works on his task, a flu breaks out and anger spreads throughout the town. A war is coming and it’s beyond what the residents ever could have imagined. This doorstopper literary horror novel is thematically rich and feels cinematic. Short chapters following numerous distinct characters keep the pace quick. Horror is imbued throughout both in gory, terrifying fantasies as well as in the more realistic horror of abuse and neglect. Christian imagery and symbols are sometimes heavy-handed. While the sense of immediacy to keep hearts pounding is always prevalent, the last third of the book feels overly drawn out.
VERDICT This epic tale of ultimate good vs. evil is a bit long-winded but still impressive in scope and truly scary.

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