#Horror Review: Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix

As the cover blurb says, take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s with Grady Hendrix . . . if you dare! Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a gloriously grotesque trip down nostalgia lane that works on multiple levels.

First off, let's talk about the visuals. Browsing through all those bold, garish, blood-soaked covers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many covers here that I recognized from my younger years, many of which I still have on the shelf today - books like Isobel, Dark Advent, The Possession of Jessica Young, Cellars, Hot Blood, Animals, Ghoul, and XY. Then there were others that caught my eye, making me want to run out and hit the used bookstore to dig them up - books like The Little People, Satan's Love Child, Orca, Slither, and Obelisk. It's not just book cover porn, however, Hendrix also provides some insights and backstories of the artists behind them, many of whom have surprising pedigrees or quirks.

Next, let's talk about the narrative of horror publishing, where Hendrix walks us through the rise and fall of horror publishers, whether they be major or niche. Having read so many of them, and having followed some of them as closely as authors, it was fascinating to learn about who was behind them, how they came to be, and what market pressures and personnel changes led to their demise. As a horror-addicted teenager, the business of publishing was the farthest thing from my mind, even as I noticed the best publishers disappearing from the shelves, but in hindsight I can understand what was happening.

Lastly, and this is the true glory of the book, we need to talk about the evolution of horror themes and tropes. I remember so many of these fads coming and going, seeing similar covers on the shelves, and reading the same stories under different titles, but Hendrix does a great job of setting the stage and exploring the social/political background. From the Satanic panic, through creepy kids, man-eating animals (and plants), haunted houses, mad scientists, serial killers, and more, he explores how each came to be and how the themes develop. Thanks to his insights, I've added The Guardian, Scared Stiff, The Devil's Kiss, Toy Cemetery, and Soulmate to my used bookstore shopping list.

Although I enjoyed it as a digital ARC, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is one of those books I need to pick up in paperback, just to have on the shelf so I can revisit those covers and dig into some of those themes.

Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: September 19th 2017 by Quirk Books

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.


  1. This sounds pretty cool! Also like a way to grow my TBR quite a bit!

  2. Thank you so much for the great review (I'm the co-author). Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!

  3. I'm looking forward to having a paperback version of this book in my hands. It sounds fabulous.


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