Subtitled ‘The Twisted History of 70s and 80s Horror Fiction’, Grady Hendrix’s loving and detailed study addresses a neglected (and even, let’s face it, despised) era of horror writing which many aficionados of the genre guiltily admit is part of their imaginative baggage. Although there are ‘respectable’ names here (and I use the inverted commas advisedly), Hendrix’s brief is clearly to investigate and celebrate the kind of writers that those who admire canonical names such as Edgar Allan Poe and MR James would not be caught dead reading – and this is, frankly, their loss. Although the era, God knows, had more than its fair share of dross (and Hendrix is not shy about identifying such uninspiring fare), there was much inventive horror material on offer in the 70s and 80s, all celebrated here with relish (though a touch more analysis would have been welcome). What’s more, many of the deliciously gruesome and meretricious covers are reproduced in full cover — which makes this as much a nostalgia trip for those who remember them as anything else.  (Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix is published by Quirke Books)

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