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Spotlight from Hell: A Look at Grady Hendrix

by Christopher O’Halloran

For years, society decided that apathy was cool. Cynicism was in, and anyone who dared show enthusiasm was a nerd. We lauded figures like Happy Days’s Fonzie, Fight Club’s Tyler Durden, and any character played by James Dean, Steve McQueen, or John Wayne. If you cared about anything or anyone, you had your textbooks slapped out of your hands and were promptly shoved into a locker.

But somewhere along the way, Grady Hendrix missed the memo.

Kickstarting his writing career as a journalist, he wrote for Playboy Magazine, Slate, The Village Voice, New York Post, Film Comment, Variety, and regularly for the New York Sun as their resident film critic. An aspect that invades his writing like vampires in Small Town, USA, is passion. No matter what he writes about, his excitement drips off the page. Whether it’s in his articles, the comments he makes on Reddit (he is moderator of the subreddit /r/horrorlit), or his fantastic novels.

This enthusiasm has been the driving undercurrent behind everything he writes. His passion for horror shines through. His love for the genre. If his non-fiction exploration into the lurid horror boon of the ’70s and ’80s doesn’t show how much he cares about it, then the heart within his novels will convince even the coolest of misanthropes.

We at HOWL Society decided to forgo the poll for the week of July 26, 2021, in order to read Hendrix’s highly anticipated novel, The Final Girl Support Group. To celebrate Grady, here is a little rundown of his six major releases!

Cover of Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. Cover is designed to look like an IKEA catalogue and shows a modular cubicle style brown wood bookcase, a potted palm, a yellow couch, a black and white checked rug, and rounded triangle shaped coffee and side tables in a light brown wood finish. On the back wall are decoratively hung black and white framed images. If you look closely, the images, when put together, display two hands on either side of a screaming face; it looks like a person is trapped in the wall. The cover is labelled with names of the furniture as well as prices.


Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination. 


While Horrorstör has a ton of humor and levity (I mean, just think of the concept of a haunted Ikea without smiling like an idiot), many HOWLers have admitted to getting spooked while reading what looks like a catalogue late at night. It’s easy to envision the terrors from this book as Grady takes these poor employees on a trip more gruesome than meatballs of a dubious nature…

Caution: reading this book in public may generate more conversation than you’re comfortable with.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Cover is design to look like a VHS cassette sleeve and includes a bright pink border, rainbow colored stripes, a VHS logo, and a collage featuring a main illustration of two young girls holding hands and walking alongside a river, with a school in the background. In the sky, the collage also includes an illustration of another girl being attacked by red eyed owls, and an image of another girl with bright red eyes. The moon hangs in the sky.
Cover of My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Cover features six black and white yearbook photographs of high school aged women and men with 80s hairdos. One of the girls is faced away from the camera with her head bent down facing the floor. The rest of the students smile brightly at the camera.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act….different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?


This is the novel where Grady begins to really dig his heels in with hard-hitting emotional moments. The amount of heart in this tale of friendship and hairspray is staggering. You become so invested in the relationship between these two girls and their drama—both of the high school and demonic nature—that it’s damn near impossible to put the book down. Many HOWLers (myself included) will freely admit to shedding a few tears during this one.

While many prefer the VHS cover, there’s an alternate Yearbook cover that forgoes the ’80s nostalgia and opts for the subtle creepiness that the Horrorstör cover nailed. For the record, I prefer the yearbook.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix. Cover features the title in big stylized red letters. Below the title are 14 images of vintage horror paperbacks.

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction

Written in dead letters… and covered in blood!

Demonic possession! Haunted condominiums! Murderous babies! Man-eating moths! No plot was too ludicrous, no cover art too appalling, no evil too despicable for the Paperbacks From Hell.

Where did they come from? Where did they go? Horror author Grady Hendrix risks his soul and sanity (not to mention yours) to relate the true, untold story of the Paperbacks From Hell.

Shocking story summaries! Incredible cover art! And true tales of writers, artists, and publishers who violated every literary law but one: never be boring. All this awaits, if you dare experience the Paperbacks From Hell.


Looking for a coffee-table book to incite conversation a little bolder than musings on scenery? Look no further than Bram Stoker-winning Paperbacks from Hell, an examination of the raunchy horror fiction that came out of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It features books about horny Bigfoots, Nazi leprechauns, killer maggots, and rabbis blasting KGB demons with super-shofars. Be careful with this book; it will lead to many additions to your to-be-read list!

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix. Cover features a red silhouette of a giant red flame, covering the whole image. In the center of the flame, a rock star dressed in black and holding a red guitar makes the hand sign for horns, forefinger and pinkie extended, other fingers folded in, with her hand raised to the sky. The cover features a border with inverted pentagrams at each corner.

We Sold Our Souls

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.


Take a dive into the world of washed-up musicians in a novel that accurately represents the behind the scenes world of the metal scene and the drama that can tear a band apart—figuratively and literally. Though this one isn’t as “fun” as his previous books, it still entertains with a consistency Grady maintains throughout his career. In my head, I’ll always link this book with Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box. Retired musicians on an epic quest to vanquish evil? Hell yeah. What more can you ask for?

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendix. Cover features two oranges. One orange has two fang marks in it and is dripping blood.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


A spiritual successor to My Best Friend’s Exorcism (with some easter eggs for the sharp eyed Hendrix completionist), this one deals with friendship in the same way, though between mothers in the ‘90s instead of high school students in the ’80s. Grady continues featuring strong and nuanced women by writing this tribute to his mother in which he pits her against Dracula. Readers will be surprised at the villainy in this one. Not only is the threat of vampirism present, one of the most infuriating aspects of this novel is the depressingly realistic sexism that rears its ugly head.

This is the second Grady Hendrix novel to make me cry. I cheered, I raged, I laughed. Very few authors elicit as many reactions.

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. Cover features a metal folding chair sitting against a solid black background. The chair is covered entirely with blood, and the blood is dripping off of it.

The Final Girl Support Group

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.


There was no question that HOWLers were going to read this as a group. We were all bound to devour it the month it dropped, so why not make it one of our weekly reads? One of the first authors we read together with The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, we’ve all been long time fans of Grady’s. Members who haven’t read his work are promptly forced encouraged to. 

Members who couldn’t wait for the official start date already rave about this title. If the cover is any indication, be prepared to dive into the gruesome world of the slasher films that shaped horror. If Paperbacks from Hell was Grady’s love letter to raunchy horror fiction, then The Final Girl Support Group looks to be his tribute to killers like Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface.

Join HOWL Society on July 26, 2021 to begin the discussion, and attend the Q&A with Grady himself on August 1, 2021 at 4PM ET!

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Shameless Self-Promotion…

Cover of HOWLS From Hell: A Horror Anthology. A howling wolf is surrounded by hands contorted into claw shapes.

Howls from Hell: A Horror Anthology

Spacefaring researchers disturb an ancient horror. An enchanted object curses a grieving widow. A haunted reel torments a film student. A murder trial hinges on a chilling testimony.

In Howls From Hell, sixteen emerging horror writers pave the way for the future of the genre. Fans of dark and macabre fiction will savor this exhibition of all-original tales born from one of the fastest-growing horror communities in the world: HOWL Society.

With a foreword by Grady Hendrix, this anthology unveils the horror writers of tomorrow with spine-tingling stories from P.L. McMillan, J.W. Donley, Shane Hawk, Christopher O’Halloran, Alex Wolfgang, Amanda Nevada DeMel, Lindsey Ragsdale, Solomon Forse, Justin Faull, M. David Clarkson, B.O.B. Jenkin, S.E. Denton, Thea Maeve, Joseph Andre Thomas, Joe Radkins, and Quinn Fern.


HOWL Society was born out of /r/horrorlit during the 2020 lockdown and, at the time of writing, has exploded to over 1200 members. A writing group as well as a reading group, sixteen members decided to release an anthology in 2021. As mod of /r/horrorlit, Grady was kind enough to write the introduction to Howls from Hell. His contribution is an incredible essay on what horror means to its readers and how it brings together misfits and loners. True to form, if you don’t make it through without getting at least a little choked up, you may be as monstrous as the creatures in his stories! 

Goodreads | Amazon

Christopher O‘Halloran—HWA member and HOWL Society admin—is a milk-slinging, Canadian actor-turned-author previously published by HellBound Books, Tales to Terrify Podcast, The Dread Machine, and others. Despite transitioning to writing, Chris still puts his acting diploma to use; he acts like a fool for chuckles from his wife and son at home in British Columbia. His novelette “Possess and Serve” was published in Howls From Hell featuring a foreword by Grady Hendrix. Fans of stories about vein-removal and Phoenix-women against the patriarchy can visit for stories, reviews, and updates on his upcoming novel, Pushing Daisy. Contact him there or on twitter @Burgleinfernal.

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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