We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the book that Queen of the Damned should have been. We Sold Our Souls is engaging, exciting, bloody, romantic and musical all at once. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait for my husband (a big music fan and horror buff) to read it as I think he will also adore this story. For sure I will be purchasing a paperback copy to add to our library and strategically leave on his side table to read.
The only 'problem' I could really find with Grady Hendrix's story is that I want the fictional band(s) to exist so bad!
It's rare that someone can write a story in which you can hear the music they are describing. I don't know if it's because the lyrics are prevalent throughout the story, or that our characters describe the feeling of being lost in the heavy metal music so well; either way it's like We Sold Our Souls is belting out a metal lyric from its static pages. I could see musical geniuses like Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Jonathan Davis (Korn) or Tobias Forge (Ghost) being perfect to write the music to go with the lyrics. It would also be ironic as both Taylor and Davis are in bands that are mocked in the book as not being 'metal enough'.
Which brings me to the one thing that might bug some readers, music snobbery. If you are not a big music fan you might not really understand the elitist attitude that our (primary) lead gal has (a member of the main fictional band). In the music industry, especially in metal and punk, there are things you just don't do or compromise on (generally with a record label). These are what will get you labelled a 'sell-out'. That said, as someone who knows a fair bit about the music industry, the reality is that generally well known and successful bands in these genres are mocked because everyone is jealous of their massive success. Like it or not when we are being snobby it's usually because we desire something someone else has that we wish we did or are trying to justify why we haven't made it big. I believe that is exactly what is happening to our lead gal here. So take the snobbery with a grain of salt and you'll coast past this issue.
Genre all it's own
If there was a genre that encompassed music, horror and fantasy all together then We Sold Our Souls would be at the forefront of it. It's so hard to say where this book should sit in a library or bookstore. It has magic, bloody killings, musical influence (including as many fictional bands as real ones mentioned) and an overall atmosphere that bleeds dread. It could be called a thriller. I could even see some calling it an inspirational story about doing what you know is right. Seriously it just has so much rolled into it.
Premise Seems Silly?
When you read the blurb to Hendrix's novel you might think to yourself that it sounds cheesy. It's true that at times it comes off that way. But I dare anyone not to get sucked into the reality presented in We Sold Our Souls. Once you accept things for what they are; I guarantee you will be unable to put this book down. It's one of the fastest reads I have had this year to date; and yet I wanted it to never end.
Characters, Plot, Symbolism, etc.
I could probably write a whole term paper or thesis about all the meanings and symbolism in We Sold Our Souls. It's got a depth you just wouldn't expect from a horror story about musicians. I love how the lyrics of the songs are intertwined with the events of the book and feelings of our characters. At times, especially in the lyrics of the songs, Hendrix really spoke to my Pagan soul. (side note: it amuses me that the author's last name is Hendrix and they wrote a book with a musician lead. I wish one of the characters was named Jimi, even if only a minor one, lol).
If you love metal music, read this. If you love horror, read this. If you love reading the personal journey of a character to 'find themselves', read this. Like a lot of music is, this is a look into the soul of selfish, snobby musicians and the ultimate price they (seemingly inevitably pay) to be successful.
But seriously, can someone please make this into a movie and create the fictional band's music?
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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