Only one review this week, for a very simple reason: Beth provided an excellent review of a new release earlier in the week. I will respectfully request everyone go to check out her thread for Everything Trump Touches Dies by Rick Wilson. (TNB) It was published by Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster.
Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix (2017, Quirk)
This is a book with a very targeted audience, but any member of that audience will quickly adore it and be thankful for their newest default reference.
It is subtitled “The twisted history of ’70s and ’80s horror fiction”, and the author does a respectable job of recounting the boom and bust of horror fiction’s heyday. There is an attempt to provide a comprehensive look at the horror fiction of the day, but there are notable gaps – Clive Barker gets only a few mentions, for example, and John Saul – one of the bestselling authors of the era whose titles vied with Stephen King’s for paperback sales – is barely mentioned.
The reason the gaps aren’t problematic is because of what’s included. The book virtually ignores the existence of hardcover editions in favor of paperbacks, showcasing the lurid and occasionally ridiculous art that decorated the titles of that era.
Hendrix bypassed the most famous names in favor of lesser-known fare of both high and low quality. Dean Koontz is almost ignored; Elizabeth Engstrom gets two pages. But the reasonable assumption is that anyone interested in purchasing this book will already be familiar with King, Koontz, Saul, Barker – but possibly not Charles L. Grant, Ray Garton, Chet Williamson and David J. Schow. And almost certainly not titles like Blood Worm by John Halkin or Halo by Chet Day.
The book runs to 254 oversized pages, with more than 500 examples of cover illustrations and recommendations of forgotten or overlooked authors nestled amidst the analysis of the horror boom. For any person who’s enjoyed either some time with a scary book or simply looking over the artwork from those covers, this title is a treasure.