We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Series: stand alone Rating: 5/5
Date of Publishing: September 18th 2018 Genre: fantasy, horror, music
Format: Paperback Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 336 Author’s website: http://www.gradyhendrix.com/

Quote of the Book

„Kris,” he said, „it is possible to be crazy and paranoid and totally insane and still be right. Maybe the problem with everyone is that the world has become so insane they’re not out of their minds enough to comprehend it.”

– JD

Blurb

A new novel of supernatural horror (and pop culture) from the author of HorrorstorMy Best Friend's Exorcism, and Paperbacks from Hell.

In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success -- but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western - she's tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry's meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris's very soul.

This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It's a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that's darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul...where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.

Personal notes

This books wasn’t really in my plans, I didn’t even knew about it until I came across it on my twitter feed. I think it was Drew from The Tattoed Book Geek who posted about it. I took a look at the cover and the blurb and I was sold. I knew I had to take my hands on a copy, no matter what. A week or so later my fabulous paperback copy arrived and I couldn’t help but plunge right into it. Did I regret it? Hell no!

Song of the Book

So the book is about metal, and it gives so many opportunities to choose from but I’m not really familiar with these bands (I know, I know, shame on me) so I go with one of the chapter titles I actually realised: Toxicity by System of a Down. It fits the book in any case.

Review

It’s not really a secret that I’m pretty much into rock and roll. Metal not so much, but I recognised all the bands who were referenced, so yay me! Well, all the bands mentioned namely in the story anyway. When I started to read this book, a friend of mine who is into metal leafed through the pages and was like: “Hey! The chapter titles are album titles!” I just stood there, staring, feeling like an idiot. Of course! How I never realised this? Well, maybe because I don’t listen to these bands… In my defense, there were two albums I knew! One of them were Master of Puppets and the other Toxicity.

Okay, let’s move on to more important things. You can read my full review but the gist of it is: READ THIS BOOK if you a) like horror stories or books with dark atmosphere and b) you love music (preferably rock or metal) and as like me are in a desperate need for a good book featuring this form of art.

Kris Pulaski’s life is mediocre and that’s being put kindly. She works as a receptionist, has to put up with crazy guests and his brother who decides to sell their mother’s house over her head. She has 6 weeks to move out. This is far from the life she wanted for herself, worked hard for in all those years she spent on the road with her metal band called Dürt Würk. But on the threshold of success, their leader/singer fucked up their lives, got themselves kicked out of the Slayer tour and on top of it, announced a new contract everyone was reluctant to accept, most of all Kris. And that night changed their lives forever. Many years later Kris finally decides to confront Terry (who just announced his farewell tour with a few dates) and get what she deserves: payment for her songs, for all the pain he caused and the mess he left them in. She digs out her old guitar and leather jacket going back to the old, ruthless Kris who didn’t let anyone to screw with her and goes to gather her old band: Scottie, Tuck, Bill and JD.

“When she used to go on tour, Kris loved the feeling of being on the road, because she knew that every tour was a circle and you always wound up back home. Not this time. She didn’t belong anywhere. It felt terrifying.”

But the road is much longer and complicated than she expected. Soon she finds herself on the run from the police, lies spreading about her like wildfire, not a single sane person to help her and death following in her wake. Despite all the circumstances there is not a moment where she considers giving up, turning her back and say “Fuck it, it’s not worth the trouble”. Even when it seems impossible to reach Terry in time – and at one point she straight up looses 3 months in an institute ran by the former Dürt Würk drummer Bill. I also have to mention Melanie, the one other character who got her own POV chapters. I could really connect with her: the girl from a town in nowhere, working hard to finally see her most favorite band, Koffin on their final tour. And when she finally gets to meet her hero, she realises not everything is as she imagined. I liked her courage and bravery and the way she bonded with Kris over music.

But no matter how hard things might be, the only thing that helps her through this mad journey is music.

“Kris’s hands could barely keep up with the music, but she rode it forward and it carried her, and all the songs were in the language of the cardboard signs she saw everywhere she went. Please Help. Need Help. Help me. Trying to get home. Lost everything. Signs written in want, need, must, hungry, sick, lonely, scared. Songs for people who couldn’t escape the weight that pressed down on their backs like a mountain, crushed them to the ground, who couldn’t walk because they were too tired, who couldn’t run away because their feet were in chains, who couldn’t think of a solution because they were too hungry to think past their next meal.”

I loved that music had such a significant role in this book. Not just because most of the characters were musicians or fans, but because it was a character itself in a way. A sidekick, which kept Kris sane, but also mocked and saved her. It also got its own story, its mythology through lyrics. Metal and mythology tends to have a strong bond in any case and Hendrix used this to his own (okay, the story’s) advantage.

But this book wouldn’t be the masterpiece it is without the source of all of Kris’ problems: Black Iron Mountain. It is a mythical place, but it also embodies everything that’s wrong in the world: greed, dishonesty, lust, lies, blackmail, etc. It uses people’s naivety and their needs and greed to chain them, to suck them dry and steal their dreams while making them believe that’s what they desired.

„Souls are the best part of us,” JD said from the shadows. „Our passions, our dreams. We sell them and lose our creativity, our songs, our spark. We can no longer imagine anything bigger than what’s in front of our faces, we can no longer dream of a better world than Black Iron Mountain.

We Sold Our Souls holds a mirror to our world, exaggerating the worst qualities of our society: paranoia, greed, the power of the media and what a group of people is able to do if encouraged and manipulated the right way. The thin line between humanity and animal instincts. The real horror in this book is what people are capable of if we push the right buttons, how easily we can disregard those we think are wrong and make them an outcast. As JD says:

„Kris,” he said, „it is possible to be crazy and paranoid and totally insane and still be right. Maybe the problem with everyone is that the world has become so insane they’re not out of their minds enough to comprehend it.”

This book has everything you might wish for: a dark tale, gritty scenes, a crazy road trip, monsters, relatable characters and metal. We Sold Our Souls is the perfect bland of prose, characters, the darker side of the world and so many great quotes that I had to restrain myself to use them all. This is one of those books I would like to shout about to anyone who listens to me, because I loved the ideas, the atmosphere, the details Hendrix crammed into this one. If I didn’t have any other obligations I probably would have reread it right after finishing it. I’m sure as hell will check out Grady Hendrix’s other books. I advise you do the same!

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