Explore a Unique Section of Horror History in Grady Hendrix’s ‘Paperbacks From Hell’

Title: Paperbacks From Hell
Author:
 Grady Hendrix
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Quirk Books
Review Spoilers: N/A
GoodReads | Amazon

Rating:
In a bit of a departure from his previous novels Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, author Grady Hendrix delves into the true history of horror with Paperbacks from Hell. It’s an interesting book outlining the history of ‘dime novel’ horror stories, largely from the 1970s and 1980s leading briefly into the early 1990s.

I’m going to be upfront with you all: there’s no hidden twist or narrative. It’s really a book about the history of horror paperbacks. Considering Hendrix’s clever style of storytelling I’m sure there are some people who may have wondered if it was more than meets the eye. Horror fans are absolutely going to love the witty commentary on the history of genre-fiction’s lesser known titles. But if you’re looking for a book that’s something more akin to Hendrix’s other stories, this isn’t the book for you. 

That said, if you’re looking for a fun non-fiction read, then you’ll definitely want to check out Paperbacks From Hell!

You can tell from the introduction, too, that this book is going to be something else. Starting with a book about Nazi gnomes, Paperbacks From Hell doesn’t hold back on the weird. It takes a topic that most people may never have given a second thought and turns it into a captivating timeline of subgenres, historical context, and real-world influences.

The book is broken down primarily into various subgenres and focuses on the titles that changed the genre — as well as the plethora of others that followed after. There are sections on killer animals, disturbing gothic romances, satantic-themed tales, and more. Each section discusses some of the more well-known books that were published as well as many lesser known ones that will intrigue readers… and also sometimes disturb them. Seriously, there are some weird books out there.

Hendrix has a very clever, witty banter with the readers throughout. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that into the topic at first but Hendrix is such a great writer that I quickly found myself chuckling along with his writing. The commentary is probably the best part of the book. Paperbacks From Hell isn’t some droll, academic take on horror fiction. Instead it’s a loving reflection on what made certain books hits, what made some of them flop, and what drove authors to hop on the bandwagon with certain subgenres.

Some of the books he featured I’d actually want to go back and read. Others are very well known and many have even been adapted for the big screen. It’s a great mix with some real odd gems sticking out now and again.

One of the other cool things about Paperbacks From Hell is the emphasis Hendrix places on the cover art for the books he features. He not only focuses on the books themselves or the authors but on the artists as well. Hendrix points out some of most iconic covers and artists and brings to light yet another aspect of horror fiction that readers may not have considered before. There are full pages dedicated to the various artists and illustrators, reflecting on their influences on the genre as a whole. It’s a really cool addition to the book.

Paperbacks From Hell is a clever, intriguing book that touches on an unusual, but not uninteresting, topic. Hendrix is a great author and his witty reflection on the titles he features keeps readers interested even when it starts dragging.

I recommend not trying to read the whole book in one sitting – space out your reading some and keep it feeling fresh. Paperbacks From Hell is a perfect book for horror fans and it’s a really cool book for anyone looking for a unique, non-fiction read.