Already an accomplished author in the realm of horror and fiction, Grady Hendrix’s first stab at nonfiction is an astounding tome for the diehard horror and literature fan. Paperbacks From Hell is an encyclopedic book that documents the rise and fall of the paperback horror and thriller boom of the 1970s and 1980s while providing bits of backstory and behind the scenes rumors presented with such snap and humor that you’ll be disappointed when your first pass through comes to an end. Luckily, this book is packed tight with enough references and name drops to keep the avid reader busy for the next several years as they amass their new reading list.
Divided into several thematic chapters, Hendrix tackles this insurmountable task of chronicling every publication that made its way to the spinning, metal paperback racks in every drugstore across the nation. Satan, children, animals, houses, science, gothic romance, inhumanoids, and the final chapter tackles my love, splatterpunk and slashers. No stone, or page, as it were, is left unturned in this collection. At times the references and descriptions can be a bit overwhelming, but the organization, humor, and beautiful artwork that graced the covers of these beat up novels breaks things up and keeps the material from becoming too textbook.
Paperbacks From Hell is sarcastic, yet made with love. Hendrix never misses an opportunity to point out the absurdity of the stories, their many bizarre creatures, and the insanity behind getting these oddities to print. The big downside, aside from the unending reading list you will now have, is that this book is so damn good that it is literally driving up the prices of these delicious little trash novels. Oh, well. Let that be shown as the true testament as to how fantastic this book is. Paperbacks From Hell is going to be hitting many best of the year lists in the coming weeks, including mine.