“We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix, Quirk Books 2018, 336 pages.
What do you do when a dream passes you by? Is confronting those who wronged you in the past worth the effort? Should you try to right these wrongs even if it puts your life in danger? These questions are at the heart of the hard-rocking, wild road trip of a novel that is “We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix.
Dürt Würk was a heavy metal band who almost made it big. Their third album, Troglodyte, a concept album about The Blind King and Black Iron Mountain, written by their guitarist Kris, was surely going to be their ticket to stardom. Until one fateful night, at a place called Witch House in rural Kentucky, the lead singer Terry Hunt presented a contract that changed everything. Soon, Terry was a rock star with his new band Koffin, while the rest of the members are soon become stuck in dead end careers.
At the novel’s start, Dürt Würk’s guitarist Kris Pulaski is a manager at a Best Western. She is facing foreclosure when she sees a billboard advertising Koffin’s farewell tour. Seeing this pushes Kris into a state of rage, remembering how Terry had betrayed her countless times and prevented her from doing the thing she loved the most, playing music. She plans a trip to visit and reconnect with her old band members and finally confront Terry in Las Vegas. After a visit with the former guitarist Scottie is interrupted by horrendous acts of violence, Kris sets out determined to reconnect with the other members of the band. As she gets closer to confronting Terry, she learns that the lyrics to Troglodyte may hold a secret message, and Terry’s act of betrayal might have more sinister roots.
The greatest strength of “We Sold Our Souls” is the protagonist, Kris. She is likable and relatable, and readers will be on the edge of their seats, eager to see how she overcomes the ever mounting odds against her. The lyrics to Dürt Würk’s Troglodyte appear throughout the novel, and will make readers wish that they could hear the album performed. The plot moves at a rapid speed, much like an intense heavy metal guitar solo.
Grady Hendrix first gained popularity when his novel, Horrorstör, a novel about a haunted Ikea knock off store, was published in 2014. In “We Sold Our Souls,” he incorporates much of the winking humor and satire that is present throughout much of Horrorstör. “We Sold Our Souls” is categorized as a supernatural horror novel, and there are some truly horrific scenes that are not for the squeamish. Readers who have a low tolerance for harsh language might not find this book to be for them. But beyond the horror and the heavy metal lyrics lies the rocking story of a girl with a guitar, going to great lengths to reclaim her life against sometimes insurmountable odds.
Elizabeth Weislak is the Youth Services Coordinator for Alamance County Public Libraries. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.