You probably have fond memories of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, the 1999 coming-of-age novel where the teens can’t stop crying. Its soupy preciousness doesn’t quite hold up as an adult—of course, it was never for adults—but Chbosky’s grown alongside that book’s audience, and his long-awaited follow-up is decidedly mature in its subject matter. Called Imaginary Friend, it’s being described as “literary horror.” It’s also due out on October 1, per a tweet from Chbosky himself.
Per Entertainment Weekly, the story “focuses on Kate Reese, a single mother fleeing an abusive relationship by starting over in a new town, with her young son Christopher.” Christopher soon vanishes into the local woods, reappearing six days later with prophecies of an impending tragedy.
“Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would look up into the clouds?” Chbosky said in a 2018 statement. “Remember how the clouds would look like the shape of a dog or a tree or a face? Well, what if you were a little 7-year-old kid now? With a single mom. And no money. And what if you couldn’t help but notice that for the last two weeks, you looked up into the clouds, and it was always the same face staring back at you? That is the origin of my story.”
Imaginary Friend is only Chbosky’s second novel, as he pivoted Wallflower’s success into a flourishing film and TV career that’s seen him create CBS’ Jericho, write Disney’s live-action Beauty And The Beast, and oversee a solid film adaptation of Wallflower starring Ezra Miller and Emma Watson.