Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend
by Stephen Chbosky


705 Pages

Published by Grand Central Publishing (1st October 2019)

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Kate Reese left her abusive partner in the middle of the night. Packing only the essentials, grabbing her son, and the money she had stashed that Jerry didn’t know about. She’s on the run and determined to make a better life for her son and herself. When they arrive in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, it seems like the perfect little community that they can disappear in and become a part of. And to begin with, it’s exactly that. Then Christopher, Kate’s seven year old son, disappears for six days. No one can find him, not even a trace. When he comes back on his own, emerging from the Mission Street Woods, everyone is beside themselves. Only, Christopher doesn’t know what happened for those six days, he can’t remember a thing except that he was lead home by the Nice Man. Now Christopher can hear voices in his head, and he has a singular mission, build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and the town of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania will never be the same again. Christopher has an Imaginary Friend…but is he really Imaginary?

I was HANGING to read this one and have had it sitting in my monster of a to be read pile for freaking AGES. I’m talking months. I haven’t read Chbosky before, but this synopsis appealed to me so hard. I am a sucker for a good horror story.

This story sees down on her luck Kate Reese escaping an abusive relationship and just trying her damn best to make a better life for her son, she doesn’t care about herself, only her seven year old son Christopher. Things aren’t easy when they first land in Mill Grove, and Kate ends up terrified when Christopher goes missing for six days. However, when he comes back home, with no memory, just an imaginary friend, things start to improve and the future begins to look bright for the pair. Except strange things are happening around Christopher, and to him, only Kate doesn’t realise until it’s much too late, and she couldn’t have made a difference even if she wanted to.

I was expecting some sort of paranormal type horror story, and I did get a horror story, Chbosky has a wonderful way of really setting the atmosphere in this story and giving some mad creepy vibes. The mailbox people, the hissing lady, it really all did appeal to the nightmares of youth and I am here for it. For a large majority of this book, I honestly wasn’t sure exactly WHAT I was reading. I knew it was horror, and I knew I was watching the story unfold just as Chbosky had intended. I wasn’t until the last 200 odd pages that I finally realised what this story was. I will not be talking about this. I feel like it’s much better to go into this story not really knowing anything except what is given to you in the synopsis. All I’ll say is it’s a story of good and evil of epic proportions and the hero in this story is seven years old.

The characters were so well written. We alternate mostly better Kate and Christopher, sometimes other characters are thrown into this mix as well, but for the most past we’re alternating between mother and son. Chbosky has such a way with his writing that I am just in awe. All of the characters had such distinct voices. I could tell instantly who the narrator of a chapter was from the opening sentence of said chapter. Chbosky has done a brilliant job of making each character stand apart from the next in personality and voice and I am living for it.

This is a big book, and for the most part, this is an amazing story that keeps you wanting more and needing to know what happens next. What I did find let it down a bit was that it was possibly too long. The last 200-250 pages seemed incredibly drawn out and I don’t know that it was really needed. The ending battle seemed to fall a little bit short for a story of this magnitude and I’m wondering if it was BECAUSE the story seemed to be really dragged out unnecessarily. I was left with virtually no questions, don’t get me wrong, and I’m fairly confident that I have wrapped my head around the story itself, but it just didn’t need to be that long and I think it would have done itself a huge favour had the last 200 pages, at least, been heavily, heavily edited and trimmed down. It felt like you were stuck on a climax for possibly the last 20% of the book (at least) and in the end it just got tiring as it went round and round in circles.

The mystery that surrounded the story was incredibly well done and though out and I loved that everything in this book had a purpose. I was left feeling satisfied and fulfilled though somewhat exhausted haha.

I don’t want to go too in depth with this one as even though there is a lot going on, it’s all intertwined and I feel that giving even the smallest detail away could ruin it for a potential reader. So I’m going to leave this review with this: This is a story of good VS evil, a tale of childhood innocence and how that innocence can be warped and manipulated leaving the most vulnerable of our society in danger, it’s about believing that children are not just kids who need to be hidden away from the horrors of the world, but taught about them and given the tools they need to stay safe, it’s about a mother just trying to do what’s best for her son, a sheriff trying to keep the town safe, and a brother who just wants to know what happened to his younger sibling all those years ago. It’s about knowing the truth from the lie, and about staying on the street. It’s about a little boy called Christopher and the battle he must face to save those that he loves.

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