Grady Hendrix wowed and delighted me with his nostalgia, and horror filled, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and I’m always on the look out for the other books he’s written. So when I came across his non-fiction book, Paperbacks From Hell, documenting the paperback horror novels of the 70s and 80s, I had to grab it and dive in!
The covers are lurid, and hint at all manner of horrors to be found within, vampires, demons, witches, so many incarnations of Satan, the occasional alien, bigfoot, all manner of animals, serial killers, and apparently lots and lots of sexual activities.
Filled with Hendrix’s sharp sense of humor, the book takes us through a variety of tales, all of which play to the tropes you know, but push the boundaries on almost all of them. There are a lot of laughs in the descriptions Hendrix gives some of the book breakdowns, but also pays its respects to the artists who create the iconic covers.
In fact, as I read this book, and I was unable to put it down, I was stunned by how many of the covers I recognized, some from the books that showed up in our house, some from book racks in stores, and some in other’s homes. I was always delighted to come across them, and read the backs, tempted and horrified by what I read (I was still at an age when horror frightened me, but was begin to exert its draw) and the paintings of the beautiful women on the covers.
The book is fun, insightful, and infectious with its joyous love for these novels. Hendrix takes us through the paperbacks heydays, through to the collapse of the horror market in the early 90s.
There are titles here that I would never read, but oh so many that I would love to hunt down, discover and read enthusiastically!
Even leafing through the pages one can’t help but to be drawn in by the covers, and the synopses. The book is a visual feast of the macabre, and also lets you see how some of them were similar, not only in cover design but cashing in on the same concepts.
The book introduces us to some names you may not know, or maybe you do, but to see them in this collection and hear their work described in a manner that I wouldn’t have understood decades ago makes the book as informative as it is fun.
Hendrix is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers, and this book is a must for any horror fan, or book collector, especially if you need a laugh or two (I laughed aloud a number of times per page as I read this one).
Paperbacks From Hell was a great way to start my new year!