Grady Hendrix Galore! Reviewing My March 2023 Reading List

There wasn’t so much a theme for March as there was an author. For the entire month, I read nothing but books by Grady Hendrix. Between print books, eBooks, and audiobooks, I binged the heck out of this author whose work keeps popping up all over my social feeds and Goodreads recommendations. I can’t believe it took me so long to read his work!

Rather than review the books in the order I read them, like I usually do, I want to try something different for this month’s book review blog post. From least favourite to absolute favourite, here is my ranking of horror stories by Grady Hendrix.

#5 The Final Girl Support Group: This was the book I was looking forward to the most, and yet it was the greatest disappointment. With my love of horror movies, I expected to fall head-over-heals in love with this book. Although I did appreciate the many, many references to classic horror film franchises, the story and characters were weak compared to Hendrix’s other books.

The overuse of twists and two dimensional characters could have been funny given the circumstances, but it all just got annoying for me. I procrastinated reading this one, which slowed me down in my overall reading goals for the month.

Apparently, there is a movie in the works, so I’m hopeful it will be good. Given the themes, subject matter, and character types, I believe this story will be much stronger as a (hopefully cheesy slasher) movie than it was as a book. Fingers crossed!

#4 My Best Friend’s Exorcism: My favourite cover of the bunch, and a book I am proud to display in my collection! I was going to read the print book, but ended up switching to the audiobook at the last second when I realized I had run out of Grady Hendrix audiobooks for my commute to/from work. Although Emily Woo Zeller did a good job capturing quintessential 80s teenage voices, her performance was unfortunately not the strongest out of the Hendrix audiobooks.

It was purely by accident that I dressed in an 80s inspired outfit the day I started reading this story. Maybe I should dress to match more of the books in my collection…

It’s not a bad story at all, and the characters and situations reek of nostalgia (unfortunately, nostalgia of an era I was not alive for, so I missed out on that front.) The problem is that I tackled this book immediately after finishing my favourite Hendrix story. Everything fell flat by comparison. Spoiler: Even the scene with tapeworms, although disturbing, didn’t come close to some of the visceral scenes in the book that’s claimed the #1 spot on this list. I should have read this one first so that I could have enjoyed it more. That being said, I am still excited to watch the movie on Amazon Prime.

#3 We Sold Our Souls: Again, another coincidence occurred! As I listened to Carol Monda’s raspy rockstar voice tell me all about the horrors of heavy metal, Mark finally managed to get me hooked on the Foo Fighters. All I wanted to do for the week I alternated between listening to this audiobook and the playlist Mark had curated for me was rock out and scream loud.

At times, the story got convoluted with all of the elements jammed into the horrific road trip – the B plot, the monarch mind control, the Troglodyte mythos, and the UPS drivers – but boy was this story fun, and the ending was satisfying. Plus, it had its fair share of gory and depressing moments too!

#2 Horrorstor: I don’t think I have the words to describe how badly I wanted to take a trip to Ikea after finishing this story. It was the first Hendrix book I read, but I wish I had saved it for later when I had a better sense of his writing style. Although I listened to the audiobook – which came with a PDF of Orsk papers – I would love to get a copy of the print book for my collection, so I will likely re-read it that way.

The whole time, I kept picturing a horrific love child between Grave Encounters (2011) and Hellraiser (1987). I would love, love, LOVE to see a movie or tv adaptation that presents the horrors of Orsk like it’s part of the Hellraiser franchise.

My only complaint is that, after reading about some of the darker moments in other Hendrix books, I wished he had gone farther with the physical and psychological horrors inflicted on the characters. It was disturbing for sure, but I wanted any sense of lingering hope within me to be destroyed. I wanted to fear Ikea.

Also #2 How to Sell a Haunted House: Between this and Horrorstor, I keep waffling back and forth between which one I prefer. At the time I’m writing this post, I think this one slightly wins. Between creepy dolls/puppets and complicated sibling dynamics, this story really spoke to me.

And even though the identity of the haunting entity was hinted at early in the book, I got so caught up in all of the other chaotic elements and entertaining characters that the big reveal caught me by surprise.

But my main “complaint” is the same as with Horrorstor. I wanted Hendrix to go further and darker with some of the more messed up parts of the story. (Or maybe I’m just getting desensitized to all this horror… I guess reading splatterpunk is the next logical progression for me.)

#1 The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: This one taught me not to judge a book by its cover/title. Back before Hendrix’s books crossed my radar, I saw adds for this book all over my Goodreads and wrongly assumed this was more of a fluff story – horror lite, if you will.

I was so wrong.

This book wrecked me in all the best ways. Characters I fell in love with were mercilessly killed, rampant gaslighting made me uncomfortable, and I was triggered by scenes that reminded me of my past traumas. And the fact that Bahni Turpin’s narration made this one of the best audiobook experiences I’ve had to date only made the story that much more enjoyable.

I was not expecting the ending to get as dark and gruesome as it did, but I was not at all disappointed. I need to add a physical copy of this book to my collection (and I may or may not be considering getting a bloody peach tattoo). I shrieked when I learned that there is a tv series in the works!

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