I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.WE SOLD OUR SOULS by Grady Hendrix
Published by Quirk Books on September 18, 2018
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Lovecraftian, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Supernatural, Suspense, Thriller
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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.
Grady Hendrix, horror writer and author of Paperbacks from Hell and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is back with his most electrifying novel yet. 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 obscurity.
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 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 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 celebrity rehab center to a music festival from hell. 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, pill-popping, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul…where only a lone girl with a guitar can save us all.
WE SOLD OUR SOULS, by Grady Hendrix, is a psychologically intense novel involving a one-time metal band and the power inherent in their music and lyrics. Years ago, five people formed a band called “Durt Wurk”–a band that was good, and had the potential to be great. Then came the day that their lead singer, Terry Hunt, decided he wanted more . . .
Kris Pulaski–now nothing more than a motel clerk–clearly remembers her triumphant struggle to where she knew they had something special. Her memories of after Terry are more fuzzy.
“. . . Once upon a time, Kris Pulaski had beaten entire rooms into submission . . .”
Her meaningful guitar riffs had a power she worked years to cultivate into that perfection. They were not entirely forgotten, but clearly pushed aside for a mundane job she had no passion for.
“. . . the riff that said they all underestimated her, they didn’t know what she had inside, they didn’t know that she could destroy them all.”
After a particularly depressing work night, Kris notices a billboard on her way home, proclaiming the farewell tour of Koffin–The Blind King.
The band Terry Hunt left them to start up on his own.
Suddenly, half-remembered images of their final night together start coming back to her. Although missing some crucial elements, Kris has an inexplicable feeling that something larger than all of them–and much worse–was about to happen.
“. . . I don’t believe in coincidence. The universe always has a plan. It’s our job to perceive it . . . “
Grady Hendrix weaves this tale of a heavy metal group–before and after its heyday–with such accurate descriptions that you’ll feel you were with them all along. His characters are real, complex individuals that make the story come alive. The urgency and pacing increase perfectly as the novel keeps going, bringing crucial revelations and scenes from the past to complete the picture in our minds.
“. . . Nothing is ever really good or bad, it’s all about your perspective.”
As Kris rallies herself and sets off on a journey she never anticipated, the gaps in her memory take form as much for the reader as for her mission. Although completely from Hendrix’s imagination, I couldn’t help but get a “Lovecraftian” vibe from this novel–I mean that as the highest compliment.
“. . . you fought with the weapons you had, not with the ones you wished for . . . “
The music–both tone and lyrics–play an integral role here. Anyone who’s ever felt the “power” or “emotion” of a song can relate to this. The dynamics of the band, their roles and talents, made them seem more like a family in their early days.
“A girl with a guitar never has to apologize for anything.”
This story worked so well on an emotional level, as well as the terror, fear, psychological, and physical horrors that are portrayed. The feelings evoked become real to us, and I think that many will be able to identify with some of the more “universal” themes brought up here.
“. . . She’d found her best friend, and he was broken.”
As the novel progressed further into “unknown territory”, I still felt as though it was the “natural” way this story had to unfold.
“. . . it is possible to be crazy and paranoid and totally insane and still be right . . . “
Overall, I loved Hendrix’s style and the way he incorporated the band’s beginning, end, and things that occurred in between, in such a manner that it all felt right–that this was the only way it could have happened. There was never a point where I felt that too much information was being thrown at me just to get it out there. Rather, the pacing was set so well that we are able to glean just as much information as we need, when we need it.
“. . . Metal never dies. Metal never retreats. Metal never surrenders . . . “
Personally, I’d love to visit this world of Hendrix’s again in the future.
About Grady Hendrix
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.