Stephen Chobsky, perhaps currently best known as the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, gets his Stephen King on with his latest novel, Imaginary Friend, a tale of horror that pits a small town against itself in a battle of good versus evil.
At the heart of the story is young Christopher, and his mother Kate. They’ve been on the run, leaving behind an abusive relationship with a man named Jerry, following the suicide of Christopher’s father.
They end up in a small town where they want to start fresh, but shortly after arriving in town, while still living in a local motel, Christopher wanders into the Mission Street Woods and disappears for six days.
When he is found, he has no memory of where he was, or what happened to him, but he hears a voice that tells him he must be a treehouse, and it must be done before Christmas Day.
That is the beginning of a tale that sees something spreading through the town, something that has power, something that knows secrets and desires, and is centred on young Christopher.
There are scares aplenty, some frightening creations, and some truly horrific moments.
Chbosky leans into King’s style of storytelling, introducing a plethora of characters, giving us the flavour of the town, inviting us into their nightmare and dreams. I like the way Chbosky doles out his tale, short crisp chapters, plenty of character moments, and a narrative that ties everything together by story’s end.
Without giving too much away, the story ends up being a lot of fun, the characters are solid and relatable, and the way Chbosky brings the nightmare aspects of the story to life are very well-written.
There are a few twists and reveals, though none of them really took me by surprise once I caught on to what was happening. That doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable. I very much wanted to see how it played out, how our understanding of good and evil comes into play, and what those concepts actually mean, and how it relates to something bigger.
I like when I come across a horror novel that I didn’t know about, something that delights and unnerves me, brushing up against scares and adventure in equal measure, one that is able to make its supernatural aspects work, I have to read it, and this one paid off, and will be one I safely recommend to other readers.
I certainly hope that Chbosky cranks out another horror novel, and it also makes me want to hunt down more horror novels to find more scares!!
Imaginary Friend was a great way to start the New Year!