Today I bring you a great book for those of you who love horror or the story of paperback publishing in general. (Sorry, I know there are many editorial reviews but I could not resist!)
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
Named to Amazon’s Best of the Year 2017 in Humor & Entertainment List
An affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of the 1970s and ’80s
Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of two iconic decades . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. Complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles, this unforgettable volume dishes on familiar authors like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, plus many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Also included are recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.
“Pure, demented delight.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Paperbacks from Hell is as funny as it is engaging.”—The Washington Post
“The book is a true appreciation of the genre.”—Los Angeles Times
“Just thumbing through these pages will bring back your youth — and terrify you all over again.”—Newsday
“Paperbacks from Hell is as wild as its source material.”—AV Club
“[Paperbacks from Hell] will delight anyone with an interest in horror, design illustration, or the macabre.”—Print Magazine
“A nostalgic treat.”—Playboy Online
“Just thumbing through these pages will bring back your youth – and terrify you all over again.”—Newsday
“Grady Hendrix has written a hugely entertaining, lightning-paced and knowledgeable history. I love it!”—Mick Garris, creator of Showtime’s Masters of Horror
“You may find yourself trying to stock up on old titles so you can get your fill of gloriously trashy scares.”—Bustle
“Perhaps the best thing about Paperbacks from Hell is the voice of its author… which is always entertaining and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.”—Creative Loafing
“A reference tome so entertaining, so authoritative, and so brilliantly assembled it’s frightening.”—Merry Jane
“As important and essential to the genre as Stephen King’s Danse Macabre and Kim Newman’s Nightmare Movies. Required reading for all ages, and filled with nostalgic, loving wonder.”—Brian Keene, best-selling author of The Rising and The Complex
“Fans of horror fiction will love this funny and insightful history.”—Library Journal, starred review
“The very best horror novel reference material on the shelves right now, bar none.”—Dread Central
“As a reference book, as a celebration, and as an appreciation, it’s one of the best books about the horror genre that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read…This gets my highest possible recommendation.”—Blu Gilliand, Cemetery Dance
“Like some malevolent force in one of his beloved novels, Hendrix’s geeky enthusiasm is infectious.”—Publishers Weekly
“This visual treat is a bookstore-in-your-lap that will have you endlessly jotting down book titles to seek out.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Get ready to have a traumatic flashback.”—Booklist
“It’s a gorgeous, lurid deep-dive into horror’s heyday and a must-read for any self-respecting horror fan.”—Tor.com
“[Hendrix] approaches 20th century genre fiction with a historian’s eye and a comic’s sense of humor and timing.”—The Oklahoman
“A deep dive into the world of scary stories with a breezy, pulp-comic style that nonetheless takes these books very seriously.”—Santa Fe New Mexican
“This book is a must for horror fans.”—B&N Reads
“Horror fiction is alive and well, and Paperbacks from Hell is a grand, affectionate, and informative celebration of the genre.”—NY Journal of Books
“A hugely entertaining history.”—Foreword Reviews
“An absolute delight.”—Forces of Geek
“Hendrix’s humorous, informative, and insightful commentary will compel you to read Paperbacks from Hell from start to finish.”—Geeks of Doom
“You’ll immediately be swept up in a wave of nostalgia for the time and associations it evokes.”—Locus Magazine
“The book’s only flaw is that it doesn’t come with a notepad to write down all the titles you’ll be perusing your local shops hoping to find.”—Birth. Movies. Death.
“Like Hendrix’s fiction, this nonfiction book has the snarky humor, but you can also not deny his true, undead love for these books … Anyone who has ever read a horror paperback will find something here to enjoy.”—RA for All
“[A] comprehensive look back at the horror paperback boom.”—Bad Feeling Magazine
“I just loved this book.”—Charles De Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction
“Paperbacks From Hell is my all-time favorite book. I grew up reading these crazy things, and Grady Hendrix gleefully excavates this rich yet overlooked vein in the horror genre. It’s smart, it’s hilarious, and you have skeletons driving cars and dressed up like cheerleaders. What more could you want? This will soon become your all-time favorite book, too.”—Duane Swierczynski, author of Hammett Prize nominee Revolver
“A ferociously entertaining spook-ride through yesterday’s horror fiction and their glossy, often perverse covers. My God, there are even Nazi leprechauns! This is a helluva lot of fun!!!”—Frank Henenlotter, director of Basket Case
“An absolute delight…any fan or writer of horror will love this book.”—Chris Byrnes, Books on the Square
“Hendrix’s infectious zeal for killer creatures and the undead make Paperbacks from Hell truly enjoyable.”—Fine Books Magazine
Praise for Grady Hendrix’s Previous Titles
“National treasure Grady Hendrix follows his classic account of a haunted IKEA-like furniture showroom, Horrorstцr (2014), with a nostalgia-soaked ghost story, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Take The Exorcist, add some hair spray and wine coolers, and enroll it in high school in 1988 — that’ll give you My Best Friend’s Exorcism… Campy. Heartfelt. Horrifying.”—Minnesota Public Radio
“It’s clever, heartfelt, and get-under-your-skin unnerving without succumbing to any of the more predictable exorcism story tropes — things happen in this book that you will not expect. It will leave you sleepless because you won’t want to put it down, and you’ll be too scared to.”—Fangoria
“A touching story of high school friendship and, well, demonic possession.”—Bloody Disgusting
“Sharply written…Hendrix has made strong progress as a novelist, and this book makes a convincing case for his powers as a sharp observer of human behavior, filtered through a fun genre conceit that doesn’t skimp on the spooky—or the bodily fluids.”—The A.V. Club
“Readers who thought Heathers wasn’t quite bleak enough will find this darkly humorous horror tale—filled with spot-on 80s pop-culture references—totally awesome.”—Booklist, starred review
“From the author of the acclaimed Horrorstor, this book packs all the magic of a summer horror flick.”—Bustle
“[Hendrix proves his] own black-magic mettle by conjuring up an era where ill-informed paranoia (and just plain ding-dongness) turned some of the quietest corners of America into fear factories, full of deep-rooted distrust and misspent rage. Too bad Satan never actually did show up back then. He woulda loved it.”—Wired.com
“If The Exorcist had been authored by Tina Fey instead of William Peter Blatty, it might have borne an uncanny resemblance to what Grady Hendrix has accomplished with My Best Friend’s Exorcism…Fans of satire, nostalgia, dark comedy and, well, demons should read this book.”—BookPage
“Horrorstör delivers a crisp terror-tale…[and] Hendrix strikes a nice balance between comedy and horror.”—Washington Post
“…disarming…”—Wall Street Journal
“…wildly fun and outrageously inventive…”—Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review
“…Hendrix conjures up some wonderfully gruesome imagery…”—Nerdist
“If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to put together furniture from IKEA, you’ll get a laugh out of Hendrix’s spoof mystery.”—New York Post
About the author:
Grady Hendrix is the author of “Horrorstör” the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore you’ll ever need. It has been translated into 14 languages and is being made into a TV show by Gail Berman (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Charlie Kaufman (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), and Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl”). His next novel is “My Best Friend’s Exorcism,” about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties. It’s out from Quirk Books in May, 2016.
His stories about UFO cults, killer Chinese parasites, Cthulhu dating your mom, and super-genius human-hating apes have appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Pseudopod, and “The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.”
He’s co-author (along with his wife) of the award-winning “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook,” the world’s first graphic novel cookbook.
Thanks to NetGalley and to Quirk Books for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
I love horror novels (and movies) although I don’t read the genre often enough (I’m not sure why, but as I review books that are submitted to some review blogs and to my own, perhaps horror authors don’t submit to these kinds of blogs and look for specialised reviewers). I have read several enthusiastic reviews of this book by some book reviewers who regularly read and review horror and I could not resist. It came very highly recommended, and it deserves all the praise.
I have not read any of the other books written by the author (and he writes fiction in the genre) but now I must admit I’m very curious. And, his collaborator, Will Errickson, has a wonderful blog that also talks about the genre (and includes plenty of cover art), that you must check: http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot.co.uk/
This book is a labour of love. Of love for the genre and for a particularly fertile period of the genre (and the book follows the chronological rise and fall of those paperbacks, including brief histories of the most prolific writers, publishing companies, and subgenres) and for the cover art that is an intrinsic part of it. Although I got an ARC e-copy of the book, the many covers included in the book are gorgeous (yes, and many disgusting, disgustingly gorgeous or gorgeously disgusting) although you might recoil at some of them (but yes, many are glorious, daring, and incredibly imaginative). There is plenty of research behind the book, as the detailed credits at the back show, and the end note and acknowledgments explain, at least in part, what the process of creation of the book involved.
The book contains large doses of humour (it is difficult to talk about the plots and characters we find in some of the books without it) but it also cares deeply for the subject and there is a great underlying respect for the books, even for some whose descriptions makes one’s head spin. There is nothing too outrageous or bizarre to be included. From the better-known tomes (whose success gave rise to copycats and innumerable books trying to cash on the popular topics) like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby to books I had never heard about, like George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dreams or Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out. (I know I must read them, mea culpa).
I have been inspired by the book and I definitely must check some of these novels (I realised Richard Matheson had written I am Legend, The Legend of Hell House, and The Shrinking Man, and this last one’s film version is one of my all-time favourite sci-fi films).
Although the version I had is only an ARC copy and there might be some slight changes, I could not resist but share a few quotes:
Bears hate us, bats hate us, dogs and cats clearly hate us. Let’s face it, humans are delicious. In the eyes of the animals, we are walking pizzas, and the best thing is that we deliver ourselves.
In Brain Watch (1985), superpsychic powers are the result of splitting a doctor’s noggin into a quadruple brain, unlocking his ability to project illusion, become superstrong, and control the pigment of his skin to ensure a really great tan.
Rice gave vampires a voice. And then they wouldn’t shut up.
This is a book that I recommend to any lovers of the genre and to those who are curious about cover art and its recent evolution. Even if you don’t like horror and are not interested in reading the actual novels, this book is full of information about the paperback publishing business and how it evolved during those years (and we know that those who don’t remember the past…).
The final words go to Will Errickson:
We can’t be certain that anyone is reading these books anymore. But we can hope. Because after all the monsters have flown away, hope is what’s left at the bottom of the box.
And a couple of covers…
Thanks to NetGalley, to the publihsing company and to the authors, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, REVIEW and be scared, BE VERY SCARED!