We Sold Our Souls
by Grady Hendrix
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Review copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Description: A new novel of supernatural horror (and pop culture) from the author of Horrorstor, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and Paperbacks from Hell.
In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success — but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.
Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western – she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry’s meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris’s very soul.
This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that’s darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul…where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.
Review: I first became aware of Grady Hendrix’s work as a non-fiction author for his massively popular hit last year, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction. However, I’m ashamed to say that not only did I have no idea he writes fiction and has published in some very prestigious avenues, but also, he wrote frickin’ Horrorstör, which was also a blockbuster success a few years ago (that’s downright embarrassing for me).
In any case, my ignorance aside, Hendrix is back at it with his latest novel, We Sold Our Souls, which combines two of my favourite things: horror and heavy metal. One of the first things I admired most about this novel was the refreshing choice to have the point of view of a female member of a metal band and to see her genesis. Her experiences definitely aren’t pretty and they get uglier as the book goes on, which is to be expected.
She was in a band that didn’t quite take off as she’d hoped, so she has been stuck in a dead-end job with not much else in the way of other options. Reading this book often felt like watching an intimate and disturbing behind-the-scenes documentary about a metal band. It was like getting an insider’s look at how a band was formed written with the closeness from someone who was there.
The intensity of the more horror-centered parts and scenes was quite vivid and the action leapt off the page. I also thought this was mingled very well with a definite case of “don’t believe everything the narrator tells you.” Survival and adaptation have never really been pretty, and in this book, it’s certainly not an exception. Overall, Hendrix has crafted a cleverly-plotted, nuanced, and action-packed thrill-ride of a novel that should be on everyone’s list for Halloween.
About the Author: Grady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, the only book you’ll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it’s set in the Eighties.
His fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Pseudopod, and The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. He is one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival and his nonfiction has appeared in Variety, Slate, Playboy, Time Out New York, The New York Sun, and The Village Voice.
You can listen to podcasts of his fiction on Pseudopod.
If you’re not already sick of him, you can learn all his secrets at his website.