“We play fucking metal! I don’t want to sing about your sad feelings! I want dragons.”
Grady Hendrix’s WE SOLD OUR SOULS may wear the skin of a road-trip horror novel, but at its heart it’s a love letter to metal, music, creativity, and never selling out. It’s heartfelt and, at times, as brutal as any modern horror novel, yet it’s also filled with in-jokes and references for readers who listen to the right kind of music. (Not all of it is metal. If you’re a fan of Joan Jett’s early band the Runaways you’re in good company here.)
I can’t speak highly enough about how authentically Hendrix has written about being in a band and, more poignantly, the bleak period that comes after, when you’re no longer making music and are forced to take crappy, low-skilled jobs and move back in with your parents. The dark side of the rock-and-roll dream — what happens when you don’t make it big — is rarely explored in fiction, but in Hendrix’s novel it cuts like a knife. The supernatural elements are compelling and smartly underplayed, but horror fans will still love it. So will metal fans. But WE SOLD OUR SOUL’s true strength lies in its character study of Kris Pulaski, the guitarist who almost made it big but, right on the cusp of greatness, lost everything. The other members of her band, Dürt Würk, are also extremely well drawn, but this is Kris’s story, and Hendrix brings her to life so well I felt like I’ve known her for years. WE SOLD OUR SOUL is a fun novel, but it’s also special one for anyone who has ever faced the trials and frustrations of trying to be a creative artist.
By the way, Dürt Würk’s TROGLODYTE sounds like a great album, and I would absolutely listen to it if it were real!