Just in time for autumn’s darkening days and the upcoming haunts of Halloween, Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend is a perfect horror novel that taps into the common fears that most of us experienced as children. While I wouldn’t have suspected that the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower would conjure up such a frightful and sinister tale, this novel certainly hits all the targets – the supernatural, good versus evil, parental devotion, and human suffering.

Publisher’s Summary of Imaginary Friend:

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 awful 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 tree house 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.

In his review for the Washington Post, Bill Sheehan said Imaginary Friend “is a page-turning meditation on human suffering whose spiritual dimension does not become fully apparent until the entire story has been told. Imaginary Friend may have been a long time coming, but the time was well spent. This is an absorbing, original and genuinely surprising novel.” 

Happy ghoulish reading! Susan C.

Also by Stephen Chbosky: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

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