A legend among horror writers, Brian Keene is the winner of two Bram Stoker awards and the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster award. Many also know Brian Keene for his tireless work for Scares That Care, a non-profit charity that raises money for cancer patients and burn victims.
Today we look at five Brian Keene books every horror fan should read. And that’s no easy task, because Keene has more published works than most writers have chapters. But I’ll do my best.
Here we go.
The Rising served as Brian Keene’s breakout novel, reigniting the nation’s interest in zombie fiction and arguably influencing the eventual tidal wave of zombie movies, video games, and television shows like The Walking Dead.
More than a gory zombie tale, The Rising focuses on a father trying to reach his son after the zombie apocalypse. A true classic in modern horror literature.
Ghoul, a story about a group of kids who discover a deep, dark hole inside a graveyard, is part coming of age adventure and part horror. I’m not spoiling the plot when I tell you the kids get the brilliant idea to explore that hole.
It’s hard not to think of classic coming of age horror tales like Stephen King’s The Body (Stand By Me) when reading Ghoul.
One of my favorite Brian Keene books.
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
This choice might surprise longtime Keene readers, but it’s my favorite. A small group of apocalypse survivors struggle to reach their homes, holding on to the slim hope their loved ones are still alive.
Weighing in at 104 pages, Take the Long Way Home is a long post-apocalyptic novella. But don’t let the length fool you into thinking Keene skimped on the story. Take the Long Way Home is a pulse-pounding, emotional novella with a satisfying ending.
I return to this novella frequently and always enjoy the journey.
Am I going off the deep end when I say how much I enjoyed Pressure? Okay, terrible pun.
But I did thoroughly enjoy Pressure, partly because the story represents a significant departure from Keene’s previous works. I also own a signed hardcover copy. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
In this novel, the protagonists battle a corrupt corporation while attempting to mitigate a disaster.
Sure, elements of horror are on full display in Pressure, but this one plays more like a thriller, something Dean Koontz or James Patterson might dream up. In that sense, I could see Pressure as a Hollywood movie. Highly recommended.
BLOOD ON THE PAGE VOL. 1
Okay, this one might be one of my five favorite Brian Keene books because it was the first I read. Nostalgia, ya dig? Or maybe I like it because it’s a great friggin’ ride from start to finish.
Blood on the Page is Keene’s first short story collection, and many of the stories are critically acclaimed. You’ll encounter serial killers, ghosts, zombies, and all forms of hell’s demons. The prose is raw and in your face, somewhat reminiscent of the late Jack Ketchum at times. Many of the individual stories call to mind the depravity of Richard Laymon’s finest novels.
My personal favorite story in the collection is “The Ghosts of Monsters”. I’m a sucker for serial killer stories. YMMV.
Those are my top-5 Brian Keene books. Got one you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments.
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Awesome list! Ghoul is my favorite Keene novel, and I have a soft spot for Castaways, too.
I loved Castaways, The Complex, and Earthworm Gods. My ultra favorite book of his is Urban Gothic and A Murder of Crows
A Murder of Crows is high on my list as well. I need to catch up on Castaways