There are few horror writers that possess the magnetism and understanding of human depth that Grady Hendrix's work exemplifies. It's clear he has a thorough understanding of the conventions of the genre, yet he masterfully breaks the boundaries of horror at every turn with unique plots, sly humor, and sharp attention to emotional detail.
Although Hendrix's books have breathed fresh life into the horror genre, he's offered fans far more than just some phenomenal reads. He has a podcast, Super Scary Haunted Home School, which gives listeners insights into his thoughts on the horrific. He launched "The Great Stephen King ReRead" with Tor.com, in which he read every Stephen King novel, short story, and poem—excepting the Dark Tower series, the Bachman books, and novels King co-authored—and offered a review for each.
He co-authored a cookbook with his wife in honor of her thriving vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy. And he has written a number of fantastic articles on everything from cinema to choose-your-own-adventure books.
But if you're not familiar with Grady Hendrix's ever-growing legacy within the horror genre, allow me to help you find a way into a world of stories you'll never want to leave. Here are the best and most essential Grady Hendrix books so far.
Dead Leprechauns & Devil Cats: Strange Tales of the White Street Society
If you're only just beginning to dip into the vast and wondrous pool of Grady Hendrix's writing, there's no better way to get a feel for his work than with this collection of short stories.
These tales are a sharp satire of Victorian adventure fiction and the steampunk genre, centering on the fictional White Street Society—a band of gentlemen in the 19th century who wielded science and savagery alike in their investigations into the supernatural.
Hendrix pokes dark fun at the era's fears about anyone who wasn't the ideal individual—a very precise kind of white male—including women, Germans, politicians, Southerners, and the like.
With stories titled "The Hair Ghost!", “The Corpse Army of Khartoum!”, “The President Who Would Not Die!”, and more, readers are in for a nonsensical and humorous ride through brief horror yarns.
Undoubtedly one of the most out-there of Hendrix's novels, this book is also one of the most unique reads you'll ever find.
Have you ever wandered through the showroom floor of Ikea or another like-minded store and felt an unshakeable sense of wrongness? Maybe it's the sterile snapshots of home life that lack warmth and coziness. Maybe it's the eerie feeling of voyeurism that goes hand-in-hand with home staging. Or maybe, like the store in this book, it's because the warehouse is deeply haunted.
In Cleveland, Ohio, the Orsk furniture superstore has been plagued by a series of odd events. The employees arrive each morning to find the place in disarray—battered bookshelves, broken water goblets, annihilated wardrobes. It's bad for business, and none of the security cameras offer any answers.
As the managers spiral into a tizzy, three brave employees offer to work the night shift to get to the bottom of the unsettling mystery. From dusk until dawn, they'll patrol the showroom, tracing the strange sights and sounds to their source. But the horrors waiting for them are beyond imagination.
My Best Friend's Exorcism
A personal favorite of mine, this book showcases Hendrix's thorough understanding of human emotion and connection, and how he expertly wields these skills to strike fear and sorrow into reader's hearts.
In 1988, best friends Abby and Gretchen are high school sophomores. The girls have been inseparable since the fourth grade, but one night spent skinny dipping changes everything. Gretchen has become short-tempered and unpredictable, and inexplicable things keep happening all around her.
Abby isn't going to just stand idly by while her friend goes through a bizarre transformation. She dives headfirst into the mystery, but what she finds is too terrifying to believe.
The enhanced digital edition of this book includes some spectacular bonus content, including educational pamphlets on the Satanic Panic, a DIY exorcism guide, and a Spotify playlist of top-notch '80s tunes.
We Sold Our Souls
In We Sold Our Souls, Hendrix takes the gripping world of heavy metal music and blends it with a deal-with-the-devil story.
In the '90s, the band Dürt Würk was teetering on the brink of success. Then lead singer Terry Hunt left his bandmates in the dust as his solo career took off. 20 years later, all of the other bandmates, including guitarist Kris Pulaski, are barely scraping by in dead-end jobs.
Kris is the night manager of a Best Western, and on top of being broke and constantly exhausted, she's also deeply unhappy. But one traumatic incident opens her eyes to the truth: Terry didn't just screw over his bandmates by abandoning them, he sold their souls in exchange for his own fame and fortune.
Now Kris is on a mission to reunite the band, reclaim their souls, and confront the selfish singer who ruined her life.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
There's no hard and fast rule that says you need to read My Best Friend's Exorcism before picking up this book, but it will definitely enhance the experience. While none of the characters in the book overlap, Hendrix considers this a spiritual sequel to the 2016 release.
Set five years later in the '90s, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires takes place in the same neighborhood as the other book, and focuses on adult friendship rather than adolescent bonds.
Patricia Campbell’s husband is consumed by work, her teenage kids are wrapped up in their own lives, her mother-in-law has become senile and requires round-the-clock care, and to top it all off, it seems like her to-do list is always overflowing. She's really lost herself.
Luckily, she has her book club and tight-knit group of friends to bring her back down to earth. The Charleston women love to gather and unwind by indulging in their love of true crime.
But one night after book club, an elderly neighbor attacks Patricia. Enter James Harris, her neighbor's nephew. He's handsome, smart, worldly, and capable of eliciting things in Patricia she'd thought she'd forgotten.
But when kids across town start to go missing, Patricia suspects James is something even worse than one of the serial killers she and her friends are fascinated by—he's a creature of the night.
The Final Girl Support Group
The most recent release from Hendrix, this humorous and terrifying read both pays homage to and subverts the tropes of our favorite classic slasher movies. From The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Scream, readers will find nods to all of the genre's best movie offerings.... but what happens after the credits roll?
Lynnette Tarkington went through a hellish nightmare and lived to tell the tale. As the only survivor of a massacre, she is a real-life final girl. Over the past decade, she's struggled to cope with the trauma of that terror by meeting in a support group with five other final girls. With help from their therapist, all they want to do is piece together what's left of their lives.
Then one of the women goes missing. It becomes suddenly clear: word of their secret group has gotten out. And now someone is out to destroy the lives that didn't end all those years ago. But final girls don't go down easy.
Paperbacks from Hell
Unlike the other books on this list, Paperbacks From Hell is a nonfiction exploration of the horror fiction boom of the '70s and '80s. Hendrix is a known collector of vintage paperbacks, and in this text he offers incredible insight and dazzling commentary on the trashy reads cranked out one right after the other in a bid to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby.
Related: 13 Best Horror Books of 2017
This collection displays a wide array of book covers from those iconic decades, and offers both startling story summaries and profiles on the authors behind them.
With evil dolls, killer crabs, and swanky skeletons, this book covers it all, from V. C. Andrews to R. L. Stine. And for your future reading pleasure, Hendrix gives readers the low-down on which books are worth a look, and which should be appreciated from afar.