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  • Writer's pictureHorror Spinsters

Paperbacks from Hell

Review by Kelly

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.”

I first experienced Grady Hendrix and his book, Paperbacks from Hell, last year when he did a book tour and live “reading” of it. He showed images of books covered in the book while he spoke ridiculously fast about them and his experience writing it. He fell in love with these novels and you could tell by how passionately he spoke about the process. I talked with him afterward and he even signed my copy! It was a great time as Grady Hendrix is quite the character - he is charming, witty and funny as hell.

Released in 2017, Paperbacks from Hell took the horror community by storm! This was talked about so much among horror fans. Many of us grew up with horror novels, like me, so having someone investigate and fall in love with this era of horror was refreshing and welcome. Horror fans are also huge on collecting paraphernalia, and this beautiful book filled with the amazing cover art of the novels that Grady read is a perfect addition to any horror fiends' bookshelf. Paperbacks from Hell has won a Stoker Award and it's also been chosen as one of the Best Books of 2017 by both Barnes & Noble and The Onion's AVClub.

As I mentioned, this thick beautiful book is an absolute treat to read. With its striking cover and embossed title, it’s filled with the wonderful art from the wacky and insane horror novels of the 70s and 80s. The covers remind me of horror film art, actually. I used to go to my local used bookstore, Alison the Bookman (still there!), and grab stacks of horror novels just based on their cover art, same with horror films! The book is divided into short chapters based on novel themes like Creepy Kids, Weird Science and Inhumanoids. Grady writes with a sharp wit and he had me laughing out loud a number of times. He really makes you want to go out and find all of these ridiculous sounding books, but also grab the originators of the genre: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin and The Other by Thomas Tyron. I own and read The Exorcist when I was a teenager but I definitely want to seek out and grab the other two. Grady also includes snippets of information regarding these long-lost authors which make for a compelling and interesting read.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

This is the kind of book in which a priest resists fleshy temptation by jamming a nail through his hand, people vomit their souls into toilets, and succubuses ooze black breast milk. And when Joe discovers that the succubus can be destroyed only if she is decapitated at the moment of orgasms, you know this book is about to go so far over the top it achieves orbit.”

I can just hear him saying this out loud and I am in stitches! It’s too bad that it took me a year to get this book read but I am so glad that I did. I have also heard great things about his other books, especially My Best friend’s Exorcism, which Jess got me for Christmas so I am excited to get into that.

Whether you are a fan of horror novels or Grady Hendrix, I would 666% recommend to buy and devour this book. Unless you don’t like having fun, then stay clear of it!

Seasons Grievings, horror fiends.

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