Contemporary, Fiction, Horror, Thriller

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

A good friend loves Grady Hendrix’s books and so when I was looking to branch out and read a horror book on the beach, she told me I had to read We Sold Our Souls.

Synopsis

From the Back Cover:
Only a girl with a guitar can save us all. Every morning Kris Pulaski wakes up in hell. In the 1990s she was lead guitarist of Dürt Würk, a heavy-metal band on the brink of breakout success until lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom, leaving his bandmates to rot in obscurity.

Now Kris works as night manager of a Best Western; she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Then one day everything changes – a shocking act of violence turns her life upside down , and she begins to suspect that Terry sabotaged more than just the band.

Kris hits the road, hoping to reunite Dürt Würk and confront the man who ruined her life. Her journey will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a satanic music festival. A furious power ballad about not giving up, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, pill-popping, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul.

Review

We Sold Our Souls is what I’ve started calling pop-horror, pop culture inspired horror. It’s not monsters (well, not in the traditional sense), nor is it supernatural (again, not in the traditional horror sense), and it’s not really what I think of when I think of scare-you-sh*tless horror movies or novels. There’s some psychological suspense and other thriller aspects to it, but it is first and foremost rooted in the American ideal of the rock star and band-lore. Its US paperback is clearly styled off of Rolling Stone because that’s what Quirk Books wants you to be thinking about when you read it – juicy Rock ‘n’ Roll gossip.

My opinion on the books evolved significantly from when I started reading, finished reading, and then sat back and started thinking about how to review it. In the end, I wound up so displeased I returned it in exchanged for David Epstein‘s Sports Gene, back in my current “safe zone” of nonfiction. But I didn’t start off feeling that way. I started off excited – as Greater Philadelphia suburb resident, I was thrilled. I knew the places, the story started off strong, perfect day-at-the-beach type of read, interesting but not requiring much brain power.

As I got deeper into the story, parts of it just didn’t line up, which, definitely supposed to be a bit confusing and disorientating. The violence started to feel entirely gratuitous and not like a real threat any longer. The tension felt forced, but I was still invested in seeing how the story ended. I wanted to know if Kris and Terry had their face off. And when they did, it was great. Hellstock ’19 was crazy (especially reading this in July, a few months before it theoretically happens), though a few parts regarding sexual assault were glossed over which bothered me – I’m sick of throwaway storylines about assault where nothing is mentioned or resolved, almost like it didn’t happen.

And then the story ended. And it was not a satisfying ending. I do not need a happy ending, but a satisfying conclusion that fits with the tone of the rest of the book would be nice. Or a feeling like the world or people changed a bit would be good. But once I put it down and thought about it for a few days, I just kept thinking, what was the point? There’s multiple hours of my life I got tricked into giving up for a book that ultimately fell flat. I’m glad people love it, it’s just really not for me. I like to see some sort of character growth or world-change in my fiction books, especially since I read so few – I’d like it to feel meaningful.

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Available for purchase with free international shipping through Book Depository.

Book Club, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror

The Vorrh by Brian Catling

Today my husband and I are celebrating the 7th anniversary of our first date so I figured I would review one of his favorite books, that I also read for our book club, The Modern Readers. 

3 - February 2016 - Vorrh

Synopsis

Outside the colonial town of Essenwald lies the Vorrh, a vast – perhaps endless – forest. Sentient and magical, a place of demons and angels, of warriors and priests, the Vorrh bends time and wipes memory. Legend holds that the Garden of Eden still exists at its heart. Now a renegade foreign soldier intends to be the first human to traverse its expanse. Armed with only a bow, he begins his journey. But some fear the consequences of his mission, so a native marksman is chosen to stop him. Around these adversaries swirls a remarkable cast of characters, including a tragically curious young girl and a Cyclops raised by robots, as well as such historical figures as protosurrealist Raymond Roussel and pioneering photographer Edward Muybridge. Fact and fiction blend, the hunter will become the hunted, and everyone’s fate will hang in the balance – in the Vorrh.

Review

Uhhhh, I’m still trying to figure this one out. Since finishing it and discussing it, I’ve sold more copies of this book by saying I hated it than I have sold books I loved to people by telling them how much I loved it. But I didn’t hate it… I think?

There are many stories working in tandem in this book and they are all confusing and befuddling and written in different styles based on the character’s perspective that we are currently viewing the world through. Told in at least four alternating perspectives, The Vorrh is the story first and foremost of the forest from which it gets its name and the people in the town right next to it. It bears similarities in equal parts to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Shelley’s Frankenstein. But it goes beyond that to discuss mental illness and paint pictures in the reader’s minds of things that are just downright unpleasant and, for some, upsetting. You have to have a strong stomach to undertake a serious reading of The Vorrh.

If anyone else has this book figured out, not just enjoyed it, but actually figured out the symbolism and intent, please do enlighten me.

Rating: 6 out 10 stars

Edition: Paperback • $16.95 • 9781101873786 • 512 pages published April 2015 by Vintage • average Goodreads rating 3.51 out of 5 • read in February 2016

Brian Catling’s Website

The Vorrh on Goodreads

Get a Copy of The Vorrh

Vorrh