Book Review: Slush by Glenn Rolfe



By Glenn Rolfe

Published by Alien Agenda Publishing, December 2014

4.5 Stars

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a review of a book. Leave it to Glenn Rolfe and an incredible set of short stories to get me back in the game.

I read Slush, a slightly older anthology from Rolfe, on the porch of my home, in the hot summer heat. The title, appropriately reflective of my own physical state in the heat, guided the tone of the stories within. Twelve stories presented in rapid succession make up the contents of Slush, and all twelve stories blend together with a ferocious sense of grime and despair.

I was taken aback by just how horrific some of these stories were—several were mean-spirited to their core, while others started like a crisp autumn morning, only to devolve into gratuitous horror by its end. Every story sang its own tune beautifully, drawing you in for a variety of reasons only to spit you out, churned through a pulp of human emotion, depravity, and violence.

I appreciated how each of these stories were written. The characters stood out in each story, each person distinctly human, hauntingly relatable, and faced with godawful choices, flaws, and downright bad luck. From the opening story “Skull of Snakes” which had a “boys on bikes” feel, I knew these were unique tales of terror.

There was little I disliked about this collection, but chief among them was how a few of the stories made me feel: dirty, tarnished…so perhaps this anthology has truly achieved what it set out to do. The writing itself is thoughtful, reminiscent, light at times, and bludgeoning when need be. Rolfe is truly talented at tone changes, writing characters you can really see, and making your skin crawl when things go wrong.

Check this one out if you get a chance. It may be several years old, but it packs a punch not every anthology can achieve.

Book Review: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls

We Sold Our Souls

By Grady Hendrix

Published by Quirk Books, September 16th, 2018

5 Stars

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix is hands down one of the most suspenseful, horrific, and entertaining books I’ve ever read. Strong female protagonist? Check. Disgusting scenes of gross-out horror? Check. An entire mythology created to sustain the story? Check check check. Hendrix has one of the best new catalogs of horror stories and a clear love for the genre, and his newest work does not disappoint in the slightest.

We Sold Our Souls follows Kris Pulaski, a tired, down-on-her-luck, former metal rock star and her truly epic journey against a force of evil under the guise of sell-out rock. This story is filled with metal riffs, rabid fans, unsettling lyrics, and one woman’s battle against the pits of hell.

This book is one of those rare books that I could not put down no matter how hard I tried. It had a magnetic pull that required I turn page after page to watch the grueling adventure spill over each paragraph. The plot was so beautifully paced, allowing for introspection in between big action moments, plenty of character development to create long-lasting impressions of well-rounded badasses.

Like Hendrix’s other books, the story told here is relatively original with compelling characters, quick humor, and a sense of world-building that is truly unrivaled. For this particular book of his, the humor may be a little quieter, but the world was the most fascinating one he’s created yet. Hendrix wrote an entire discography of music, a feat that deepened the lore in a satisfying way, providing an almost audible march that kept the plot moving. In addition to the numerous intriguing lyrics he wrote, he also crafted a fiction within his fiction that provided a backdrop for the hero’s journey. This mythos was equal parts awe-inspiring and terrifying. Hendrix carefully weaves the dark side of metal with the terrible things that humans do to craft a tale with moments of true horror.

However, while this books has plenty of heart-stopping moments, what I really loved about this book was the character-driven heroism inherent in Kris. Kris is a multi-dimensional character, written with heart, that I wanted to leap off the page and meet in real life. Her story, her drive, her passion…those things stick with you long after the book ends. I think Kris is one of Hendrix’s best characters yet, and I would have read a thousand more pages of her life and journey. Strong female characters is not necessarily uncommon in horror, with the trope of the final girl and powerful women like Ripley from Alien and Laurie Strode from Halloween. However, the depth given to Kris makes it more than just about her will to survive, but also about her dedication to her passion and to her friends.

Hendrix has another successful hit on his hands with We Sold Our Souls. I don’t have a lot of time to re-read these days, but this is a book I could see myself revisiting every couple of years. Simply put, I was completely engrossed in every aspect of this book, and, as dark as the world was, I want to be there again to witness the thrill of the journey.

I’m going to go take this book, pick up my guitar and microphone, and scream into the void just how wonderful this book is.