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Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

I’ve been a fan of Hendrix’s books since I first stumbled over his novel Horrorstor about his fictional version of an IKEA being a portal or at least sitting on top of a portal to some supernatural realm. Good spooky fun. Since then I’ve checked out some of this other books but thought I’d finally get around to reviewing one of them for the site. That book is obviously The Final Girl Support Group.

Hendrix has a habit of mining familiar concepts and putting a creative and entertaining twist on them. Here he explores what happens to our favorite “final girls” from various slasher movies after their traumatic experiences are behind them. See in this world those movies are based on real events and therefore real final girls. He has characters that reference the familiar franchises such as Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though he has to walk a tightrope to avoid getting into copyright troubles fans are going to know who is who. Well sort of, but I’ll talk more about that later.

We meet the final girls as they are in a support group meeting with their therapist. Here one of the girls announces she is done holding onto the past and wants to move on. This leads our main character, Lynette Tarkington, to freak out as in her mind this is the beginning of the end for them. Things get even worse when they find out that one of them, Adrienne, who they thought was late, was murdered after another slaughter happened at the camp where she became the final girl. That character is based on the Friday the 13th franchise if you can’t tell. When someone takes a few shots at Lynette and hits one of the other girls all hell breaks loose.

The rest of the story is her trying to figure out who is trying to kill the Final Girls. She has figured out that someone has manipulated them and that someone knows their secrets. Is it one of the other girls that has gone crazy? Have their killers gotten together with superfans to do them in? Or is there some unknown person behind it all? I’m not going to spoil it there. I mean that is the whole reason to read the book.

This is a solid book. Things move along briskly, and the book is a quick read. As a slasher movie fan I was able to follow some of the shortcuts in the histories of the various final girls. Again, they aren’t the same as the franchises he is clearly referencing but they are close enough that Hendrix doesn’t need to spend too much time on their background. I suppose that some readers might find the survival of certain characters hard to swallow given how mangled and messed up they get, but these are final girls, so they are used to taking a lot of abuse.

It was also neat to see how the girls themselves don’t necessarily consider Lynette a final girl. She is based on the Linnea Quigley character that gets stuck on the deer antlers in Silent Night Deadly Night and unlike the others never did her final battle with the killer. At least until now when she has to save them all or die trying. That was a neat place to take the story and shows the sort of creativity that I’ve gotten used to from this author.

One final positive I wanted to mention the big twist in the revelation as to who the killer is. Without spoilers I will say that I thought it was clever that the motivations were so clearly in the now. The story isn’t so much updated but contrasts the horrors of the past compared to what the horrors of today are. Well and one is based on fiction, the final girls, while the other is more in the news and happens. I can’t go further without screwing things up. Read the book to find out what I’m talking about.

If I did have one complaint about the book it is that there are so many girls and storylines that sometimes things do get a bit muddled. I did find myself having to backtrack to figure out who he was referring to and how they connected. I read this in two sittings, so it was fresh in my mind. I fear that it might even be worse if you aren’t familiar with the slasher movies and tropes that this book references. After writing most of this review I did go online and see what other folks were saying and it does seem that many readers were struggling with this. Not a deal breaker for me I just thought I’d mention it.

While The Final Girls Support Group isn’t my favorite from Hendrix it did hit that sweet spot of nostalgia and entertainment. I got a kick out of seeing these alternate versions of some of my favorite horror characters without it being too ‘member berries. If you dig slasher movies then I’d recommend tracking down a copy of this one, it is a good read.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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