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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Book Review: We Sold Our Souls: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

by Grady Hendrix
September 18, 2018
336 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
In this hard-rocking, spine-tingling supernatural thriller, the washed-up guitarist of a ’90s heavy metal band embarks on an epic road-trip across America and deep into the web of a sinister conspiracy.
Every morning, Kris Pulaski wakes up in hell. In the 1990s she was lead guitarist of Dürt Würk, a heavy-metal band on the brink of breakout success until lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom, leaving his bandmates to rot in obscurity.

Now Kris works as night manager of a Best Western; she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. One day everything changes—a shocking act of violence turns her life upside down, and she begins to suspect that Terry sabotaged more than just the band. Kris hits the road, hoping to reunite Dürt Würk and confront the man who ruined her life. Her journey will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a satanic music festival. A furious power ballad about never giving up, We Sold Our Souls is one woman’s epic journey to reclaim her life—and save her soul.

Some themes are universal. Good vs evil. Love conquering all. People selling their souls to form a band then regretting it. The important thing isn't the theme itself, but what one does with it. Such is the case with We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix.

A former metal guitarist, Kris now works in a Best Western and her life is falling apart. Not only that, but former bandmate Terry is super successful fronting the band Koffin and is geared up for his ‘final’ tour.

What follows is her reuniting with her old band (or what's left of it), and working her way across the country to confront Terry...and before it’s too late. Because something happened to them long ago, something that involves the lost concept album Kris wrote and the memories of contract night that she just can't seem to recall.

This is absolutely not a typical devil music book. I love Grady Hendrix’s work, but I wasn't prepared for all the twists and turns. I also wasn't prepared for just how insightful a story this is.

Kris goes through a personal journey along with her road tripping. She has a lot of emotions about how Terry screwed her over, her place in the world now, and her music that need to be worked through. I also love that we also see the feeling of stuckness through Melanie, a Koffin fan determined to make her life better. It also goes a long way that the story equates the hellish figures less with traditional Robert Johnson and Satan imagery and leans into its own mythology highlighted by the mysterious lost album Trogladyte.

It makes for an intriguing mystery and a fantastic mythos. I love that the soulless factor is incorporated into day to day living and losing one's self.

That’s not to say that there aren't some creepy, unsettling, downright unnerving scenes. Hendrix is fantastic at balancing horror with the overall feel of a story. While this book has a different vibe than, say, Horrorstor, I definitely was gripping the book hard and felt my stomach drop during parts of the festival at the end.

And I will never look at UPS the same ever again.

You can tell there's a love and respect for the music, too. It’s not just a device, but something that permeates every aspect of the book. This is one of those titles that gripped me hard (I read it in a day), and left me a little jealous. I love the choice of a female lead, I love that things get dicey but not outright gratuitous, because it would have been easy to go that route. I love that this book feels real and gives no easy answer to regaining personal fulfillment.

Plus, the whole concert sequence and when you find out who had their souls sold to what is just bitchin.

A wild ride that makes you think and want to dig out your old record collection? I am totally down.

5 sheep

About the Author:
Award-winning author Grady Hendrix has written about the Confederate flag for Playboy magazine, covered machine gun collector conventions, and scripted award shows for Chinese television. His novels include HORRORSTÖR about a haunted IKEA, MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, which is basically "Beaches" meets "The Exorcist", and WE SOLD OUR SOULS, a heavy metal horror epic out now from Quirk Books. He's also the author of PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, a history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties, and the movie MOHAWK, a horror flick about the War of 1812, and the upcoming film, SATANIC PANIC. You can discover more ridiculous facts about him at

About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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