Halloween Read: “We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix

souls

I love Hendrix’s books.  I talked about Horrorstor and My Best Friend’s Exorcism on previous Halloweens, and I’m so glad he’s got a new book out just in time for this year’s countdown.  While it’s not straight-up Horror, it’s definitely creepy, with plenty of biting social commentary and gory bits.  It’s also got a ton of heart and hope.

Kris was the guitarist for a metal band back in the 1990’s.  Now, she’s working at a Best Western and about to lose her house.  Looming over her life is Terry, her once-friend and bandmate, who was responsible for the messy breakup of their band Durt Wurk, and now has a legendary solo career.

But Kris can’t remember the exact circumstances of the crazy night the band broke up.  Craziest of all, Kris realizes that the trajectory of her life seems to be following the storyline of the album she poured her soul into, Troglodyte.

The songs on that album told the story of Black Iron Mountain, which controls the world, and the slave Troglodyte, who fights for freedom.  Kris knows she has to fight for her own freedom as well as her soul as she crosses the country to get to Terry’s final concert out in the desert.  Because Terry sabotaged a lot more than just the band all those years ago.

Menacing, full of black humor, heartfelt, and a love song to metal, this supernatural thriller is definitely one to add to your reading list this Halloween!

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Halloween Read: “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix

You might remember Grady Hendrix from such quirky horror novels as Horrorstor, in which retail employees fend off ghosts and torture devices in a big box store.  In My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a night of drugs and skinny-dipping leads to demonic possession.

best-friends-exorcism

Abby and Gretchen have been friends since they were kids.  But now that they’re in high school, something between them has shifted.  Gretchen’s acting awfully weird, and despite everyone saying it’s just a teenage girl phase, Abby’s convinced it’s something much darker than that.  And she’s willing to do anything to save her best friend.

This novel does a lot less with framing than Horrorstor, but the yearbook endpages are spot-on gold.  And the exorcism scene toward the end is suitably disturbing and moving.  Hendrix is great with blending creepiness, action, and humor, and it’s all used to very good effect here.

At its heart, this is the story of a friendship, and that core holds the novel together.  You really care about Abby and Gretchen, and you want their friendship to succeed against all odds.  Possession works incredibly well as a metaphor for adolescence, and while Hendrix doesn’t beat you over the head with it, that element plays a big part in the story.

If you like 80’s flicks and possession stories, give this one a try!

–Marie

Marie’s Favorite Scary Books, Part III: The Revenge of the Scary Book

The first one’s usually pretty okay.  Perhaps some concepts or ideas you haven’t encountered before.  Then there’s a sequel, and most people are in one of two camps: “Yay, they’re making another one!” or “Ugh, they’re making another one.” By the time the third one rolls around you know what to expect.  Usually this is the one that continues all the motifs, maybe wraps some things up, but mostly it’s what you’ve seen before.

My third scary books list is no different.   The same things that freaked me out years ago freak me out now.  It’s just that I find them in different books every year.

So here you go, the third installment of my favorite scary books!  I’ve also got print copies of my favorite scary books lists on my Horror Display at the library.

Marie’s Favorite Scary Books, Part III: The Revenge of the Scary Book

girl with all the giftsThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
A creative, gory, and enjoyable zombie read.  I talked about it on the blog here.

winter peopleThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
A ghost story reminiscent of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, but with a chilling magic all its own.  Click here to read more.

severed03_coverSevered by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft, art by Attila Futaki
Human horror at its finest.  A tale of a monster on America’s highways, searching for victims.  The artwork is brutal but gorgeous, striking a distinctive and effective balance.  This is the blog post about it.

ScowlerScowler by Daniel Kraus
A tale of abuse and survival, and the monsters that lurk inside all of us.  Thinking about it gives me a bad taste in my mouth.  You’ll understand when you read it and get to the end.  This one set me so sideways I never wrote a post, so here’s the Goodreads page.

horrorstorHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Let’s end on a relatively peppy note!  Read my blog post about this inventive, scary, and clever new title here.

I’m not going to say “The End,” because I want to leave the door open for a fourth installment in October 2015.  Maybe I’ll set it in outer space.   Or somehow go back in time and do a prequel list.

During Horror Time, the possibilities are limitless.

“Horrorstor” by Grady Hendrix

Just look at this cover.

Just look.

horrorstor

Orsk is a furniture store that feels like a prison to many of its employees.  It’s the sort of retail hell that’s designed to never let you leave.  As the story opens we learn that merchandise is being damaged overnight.  There are Orsk company inspectors on the way, so the store manager has to get to the bottom of the mystery quickly.  So the devoted-to-the-company manager puts together a small crew to wait overnight so that they can catch whoever is responsible for messing with the inventory.

Unfortunately, weird things begin to happen once night falls.  Graffiti appears on the walls that references “the Beehive.”  Stains and mold and scratches appear on normally flawless surfaces.  Then the shadowy figures start to appear.  Turns out the store was built on the swampy remains of a notorious prison.

Horrorstör is clever, fun, and pretty darn creepy–I snorted with laughter even while being scared.  Think Shaun of the Dead style, where the gore is paired with a laugh.  Actually, there are lots of horror movie references and tropes here.   This novel is particularly cinematic in pacing and tone and, because of the catalog framing device, relies a lot on visuals.  So it’s even more like a horror movie than it might be otherwise.

The catalog device is very well done, especially in the chapter-heading ads for furniture (which morph into something altogether different as the story goes on).  The phrasing for the merchandise description is spot-on.  And so is the corporate-speak of the employee manual and the more devoted employees.

Retail, man.  It can trap you.

If you’re a fan of clever creepiness with a quick pace and a nice foreboding ending, give this one a try this month.  Here’s the book trailer:

 

September Simply Books! Meeting

We were a small but hearty band this month.  Mostly we sat outside in the Children’s Garden and chatted and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  There was a monarch butterfly.  And a chickadee.  And a bride with her wedding party in a horse-drawn carriage.

The books were almost incidental.

I unfortunately had to jump in late, but here are the books we mentioned this month:

summer houseSummer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

horrorstorHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix

The BlondeThe Blonde by Anna Godbersen

As I said, I was late, so I bet I missed a couple.  One member mentioned she’s been reading a lot of short stories as inspiration for her own work, including stories by Lorrie Moore.

October will probably force us inside, but we’ll still meet on Saturday, October 25th at 2pm in the Jean Picker Room.  Do come join us if you can!

–Marie