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We Sold Our Souls: A Novel by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls: A Novel (2018)

by Grady Hendrix

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We Sold Our Souls
by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books
4.0 / 5.0

1990ś metal band, Durt Wurk, from Pennsylvania, were a good band on the verge of greatness when their lead singer, Terry splits the band and begins performing as Koffin. Koffin become known popular and Terry is living the life. Kris, Durt Wurks lead guitarist is broke and working at a Best Western hotel when she hears that Koffin is doing their farewell tour. Kris has always felt betrayed by Terry and has never forgotten how his leaving the band cost her the chance at success. Now Kris wants revenge-¨A girl with a guitar doesn´t have to apologize for nothing¨
Will she reap her revenge?
I love how Grady Hendrix captured the energy of rock n roll, the spirit of rock musicians and fans and melded it to a horrific crime.
The references to bands, musicians and guitars was excellent-esp the Runaways and the song ¨Dead End Justice¨
Original and engaging, this was fun and a look at the morality of a lifestyle and an era in music.
The cover and black edged pages are awesome. ( )
  over.the.edge | May 9, 2019 |
We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix is a 2018 Quirk Books publication.
It’s the 90s and heavy metal rules the rock and roll music machine.
Dürt Würk is right on the cusp of fame when suddenly their singer, Terry Hunt, pulls out, goes solo, changes his name and becomes a mega-superstar. He leaves his former bandmates in the dust, taking everything with him, including the rights to their music.

Decades pass, and Dürt Würk’s guitarist, Kris Pulaski, is barely scraping by, working as the night manager at a Best Western motel. Her dreary, miserable days suddenly explode into a fight for her very soul when she makes a shocking discovery about Terry’s meteoric rise to fame. It is imperative she reconnect with her former bandmates and get the band back together.

Meanwhile, Terry, aka, ‘Koffin’, is headlining a massive rock show in Las Vegas with record breaking crowds expected to attend. If Kris doesn’t get there in time, many more souls may be lost.

Full disclosure- I read Grady Hendrix’s ‘Paperbacks from Hell’ and loved it. The book highlighted pulp horror novels from an era I was familiar with, and it was done with humor, and intelligence. So, when I saw this book by Hendrix, I couldn’t resist. The thing is I don’t read horror novels a lot, except around Halloween, and I was never into the type of metal featured in this story, but…

I have a son who was just at the right age to appreciate pure metal and I heard my fair share of it bleeding through his bedroom walls. The 'nu-metal' was also in the house, which is, evidently, according to this novel- frowned upon by purists. Anyway, my point is, I am familiar enough with the culture to recognize the bands and understood most of the references.

At the end of the day, the story is one that has endured for ages- the classic myth of selling one’s soul for fame and fortune, with the devil getting the last laugh. Except in this case, souls were sold without their knowledge, and they are desperate to free themselves from the contract which has sealed their fate. This is a nice twist, and I loved that Kris is a kick-butt female guitarist in an overwhelmingly male dominated environment.

Of course, this is a cautionary tale and there is a moral to the story. I love that about this book. It’s a gory, supernatural, futuristic horror story, featuring hardcore metal music, but there is still message and a lesson to be learned from it. While the legend of ‘selling one’s soul’ conjures up woo-doo, a thing about chickens, and visions of crossroads, and is often taken in the literal sense, I think it’s allegorical and yes, many a musician has fallen into the trap.

There are other points the author zooms in on, that while not entirely original, will still make you think. The one downside was the ending. I was expecting a huge, epic showdown, but it ended up being a whimper instead of a roar. Other than that, this story is an homage to heavy metal, to rock and roll, and horror novels. It’s a little tense, has some gross out gore, but also a healthy dose of humor and satire. It will also give you nightmares about UPS trucks, but overall, this is rip-roaring, spine-tingling tale of horror, but was also a whole lot of fun to read! ( )
1 vote gpangel | Oct 24, 2018 |
Kris Pulaski founded a metal band in the 90's called Durt Wurk with her high school best friend Terry Hunt. They were on the verge of something big when Terry threw a tantrum and ruined it for them all. He split from the group, made them all sign contracts to never play music again and sign over ownership of their music among other things, and left them. Twenty years later, Terry is the height of corporate rock music while Kris is reduced to managing a Best Western. She rediscovers her love of music and sets out to reunite with her bandmates, confront Terry over his betrayal, and make music again.

We Sold Our Souls mixes a deal with the devil, a Lovecraftian cult, and a scrappy metal band to create its weird and wonderful mythology. It all starts with Kris moldering at the Best Western, struggling to deal with naked, deranged patrons. Because of Terry and his contracts, Kris has no prospects or real future. I am completely on board with her when she sets out to rebuild her band and face Terry. The situation is all the more heartbreaking when their relationship is shown. She and Terry grew up together, mourned legends, traded tapes, learned music, and finally founded Durt Wurk together. He threw it all away to become the Blind King and head Koffin, the most commercially successful and soulless metal band. It merges the commercial nature of Kiss mixed with Nickelback, only with metal music. Melanie is a huge fan of their music who is disillusioned and drowning in college debt. She proves to be significant to the story in surprising ways.

I love the way Hendrix talks about music. Kris started out as a kid in a basement struggling to make music with hurting hands and strings only to transcend the pain and frustration when she finally plays the opening chords of Iron Man. The same music heard by thousands finally came out of her own guitar. Later on, Durt Wurk played for a different crowds (hostile and not) and succeeded in transforming them with their music and energy. Melanie and Kris bond over their shared love of Dolly Parton (after butting heads over their differing views of Koffin) and pass the time singing her music all the way to Vegas. The manufactured to appeal to the widest audience type of music fro Koffin is described very differently than Durt Wurk's earnest and heartfelt but imperfect songs. The way music is described borders on magical but feels accurate. It has a way of bonding lovers of the same music and transforming listeners and performers alike.

The horror elements took me by surprise. I thought it would be similar to The Devil's Candy or something more straightforward. The creatures that gave Terry the contracts are bigger and more monstrous than our perception allows us to see. They never communicate directly because they don't even speak the same language. The minions are only aware that they know human greed and feast on souls. Their main minions are cookie cutter UPS drivers that aren't much more than automatons. In addition, all the followers of Koffin act as their eyes and ears. When enough followers gather, they stop truly being individuals and answer commands to destroy. Kris isn't safe anywhere. The creatures have already gotten to anyone that might matter to her and every person is a potential informant or attacker. The eldritch nature of the villains plus their far feaching eyes and ears keeps the suspense and sense of danger high as the novel moves along.

We Sold Our Souls is a treat to read. There are so many different elements that Hendrix melds together to make this unique novel. I loved everything from the music to the characters to the villainous monsters. The story is a love letter to metal music that still critiques the negative things about it like how women can be harassed at concerts. I have no issues with this book and I loved how it ended like it started. I highly recommend this and any other Grady Hendrix novel. ( )
  titania86 | Oct 18, 2018 |
I love music and I love to read, so I went into this story with every expectation of loving it. Unfortunately, I can't even say that I liked it. I'll do my best to explain why.

First, for those of you who sample books before purchasing, be aware that the first chapter might give you the wrong impression. We start by meeting Kris as a teenager. It's a short chapter, with a strong young adult feel, and ultimately unnecessary. The second chapter advances thirty-three years, and that's where the timeline remains.

The pace starts quite slow. We have bursts of action, then more slow spots, going on this way through much of the book.

The content tries hard, perhaps too hard, to send a message about how we've become complacent sheep being led by our masters. While there are some thoughtful nuggets, as a whole it's way too clear that this is the intent, and so it feels a little preachy.

My biggest problem is that the characters and the plot take themselves too seriously for the way its written. Some scenes have a lot of violence and gore, and there are other scenes that are intense, but rather than feeling on edge I really just wanted to laugh. I couldn't buy into any of it because it was too ridiculous.

And, finally, the entire story pushes us toward a confrontation between Kris and Terry. We have bloodshed and rage leading us to what should have been an explosive ending. Instead, it's like they both just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

A word of caution: If you're a fan of "nu-metal" and bands such as Korn and Slipnot, you probably don't want to read this book. These bands are insulted and ridiculed throughout the story.

*I received an advance copy from Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | Aug 22, 2018 |
We all have heard the legend of the crossroads and selling one’s soul for fortune and fame. This time we get a twist that takes us on a thrilling, and chilling, ride from one side of the country to the other. My music loving soul felt Kris’s pain as she fought to get back what was taken from her. Metal to the end as we raise our hand in the sign of the horns! One word of warning--If you are a bit claustrophobic like me there is a seen that will really get your heart racing. ( )
  JJbooklvr | May 9, 2018 |
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"In this hard-rocking ... supernatural thriller, the washed-up guitarist of a '90s heavy metal band embarks on an epic road-trip across America and deep into the web of a sinister conspiracy"--Publisher marketing.

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