BOOK REVIEW: Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix has been quietly working in the background like code on a computer, he’s churned out some fabulous fiction over the last couple of years (Horrorstor and My Best Friends Exorcism), and we were delighted to review some of his work and interview him recently. STORGY are predicting big things from Hendrix and so without further debate or fanfare we’ll get on with the gritty stuff and the review of his latest offering ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ released by Quirk Books.

‘Paperbacks From Hell’ is the twisted history of the 70’s and 80’s horror fiction; whether these are stories of demonic possession, murderous babies, man eating moths, dolls or Little Nazi People nothing is to outlandish to find itself within Hendrix compendium of horror. No plot to awful. No cover art too shocking. This is a harrowing encyclopedia of horror in all its splendor, the pages are literally dripping with blood, well maybe not blood; but bloody fascinating insights and summaries of the books, awesome horrific hand-painted covers. Hendrix also includes some fascinating true life tales about the writers, artists and publishers who surrounded themselves with this pulp genre. It is a book every horror fan should own.

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The introduction and prologue to ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ is fascinating, you get a real feel for Hendrix and his passion for the macabre and in particular this era of horror fiction. Just reading his words and seeing his gifting in this field is enough to make your spine tingle with anticipation for the start of the cataloguing process, which is helpfully and simplistically implemented for the reader to find his or her poison, whilst also helping the novice to the genre find something at a glance, whether that be Gothic and Romantic or Creepy Kids.

Looking at the chapter breakdown in more detail, Hendrix has broken the who 70’s and 80’s horror fiction into the following categories; Hail Satan, Creepy Kids, When Animals Attack, Real Estate Nightmares, Weird Science, Gothic and Romantic, Inhumanoids, Splatterpunks, Serial Killers and Super Creeps. As you can see the list is extensive, leaving no stone or grave un-turned.

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In the Early ‘70s, being killed by Satan or his spawn seemed a lot less likely than being killed by some corner-cutting, penny-pinching, midlevel employee at a giant corporation. In 1967, the captain of the oil tanker Torrey Canyon took a short cut on his way to Wales and hit Pollard’s Rock, 15 miles off the coast of Cornwall, spilling 25 million gallons of crude oil and unleashing a lethal 270-square-mile slick. In 1969, a blowout on Union Oil’s Platform A off the coast of California coated 30 miles of shoreline with black sludge. Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted with industrial runoff that it burst into flames. The toxic water of Lake Erie was devoid of life.

Suddenly. Everyone noticed we were destroying the planet. It was clear that nature needed to be protected from us. But who would protect us from nature?

Every book of this kind will appeal to its readership differently, the book is a win for horror fans in general; but the chapter that excited me the most and the one I wanted to delve into most, is aptly named ‘When Animals Attack’. I’ve been a huge fan of this subgenre of horror ever since I read James Herbert’s ‘Rats’ and Peter Benchley’s ‘Jaws’, it’s a genre that just keeps on giving and for me contains some of the greatest escapism writing there is.

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Hendrix becomes our dungeon master and guides us around the chambers and vaults that contain some quite terrifying delights, whether these are killer pigs, rats, man’s best friend, cats, rabbits, creatures of the deep, crabs, maggots, slugs or ants – nature is severely pissed off and have decided to quite literally tear you apart. Hendrix divides this chapter into bite sized portions, enabling the reader to discover hidden gems, highlights of what to pick up at the nearest second hand book shop or even just having their mind opened to the exponential possibilities of what nuclear waste can do to a insert your chosen animal here.

When reading ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ my wish-list of books has been expanded, the book is so rich in its execution that I would challenge anyone to read it and then not have searched, bought or longed for some of the more obscurer titles that Hendrix dredges up from the filth of the 70’s and 80’s twisted horror fiction.

I went on a journey of discovery myself after reading ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ looking for Richard Haigh’s ‘The Farm’, after seeing its cover artwork and write up from Hendrix. I searched the internet, second hand book shops, book forum sites and all I found out was that it was a highly desirable book that had a limited print run. Great. Until one cold morning, I found a copy. A second-hand copy selling for £84.00! Needless to say I didn’t get it, but the fun is found in the chase (unless that chase is from giant black carnivorous Rats) and a week or so later I discovered it for £4.85 in a dusty, mold smelling charity shop in Bristol – it was a great find and the cover art alone was worthy of the lengthy quest.

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Each chapter of this book has been thought out and planned with precision. Grady Hendrix showcases his passion for this genre; proving time and time again that his knowledge knows no bounds. It’s a book that I will be using again and again when searching or researching for the next book to read or finding out more information about the authors and publishers of this twisted time in horror fiction writing.

As well as being a book about books, it’s a book that has some of the most fabulous, eerie, disturbing artwork you will see in one place – so what would I recommend you do? You guessed it, grab yourselves a copy now, and while you’re at it grab your friend a copy too – Christmas is coming; and you guessed it, there is a chapter on that festive season too – including titles such as ‘Christmas Babies’, ‘Slay Bells’, ‘Black Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’ 1 & 2 featuring the awesome tagline ‘Jingle Bells…Santa Kills’!

Grady Hendrix

 

Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix is the author of Horrorstor, about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by NPR and has been translated into fourteen languages. His latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is Beaches meets The Exorcist set in the ’80s. He has written about the confederate flag for Playboy, religious aardvarks for the Village Voice, and Jackie Chan’s haircut for Variety. His latest offering Paperbacks From Hell is available from Quirk books now.

Paperbacks From Hell was published by published by Quirk Books on 19th September 2017

You can purchase a copy of Paperbacks From Hell from FoylesWaterstones, or The Book Depository:

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To discover more about Quirk Books click here

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Review by Ross Jeffery

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