Happy September! What does a writer do when he isn’t writing? He reads, of course, and I’m here with my horror novel recommendations.
August 2017 was a terrific month of reading, as I benefited from the additional free time a vacation provides. For those interested I took the family to Disney World for seven days, spent another four days at a pretty resort in Orlando, then dropped my daughter off in Tallahassee for her freshman year of college. Very exciting and emotional times to say the least.
A Disney parks vacation tends to leave little time for reading as we are inside the parks for most of the day and evening, before retiring bleary-eyed to our beds at night. However, pool time and sunbathing comprised the four post-Disney days spent in Orlando, during which I read one entire novel (The Troop) and half of a second. On a weird note, I met a man in an elevator who looked strikingly like Jack Ketchum but wasn’t.
Quite unfortunate that he wasn’t the real deal.
I completed five novels in August, all of which I heartily recommend:
Scott Nicholson provided me a welcome return to Solom, a journey which began with his novel, Solom: The Scarecrow. Jack Ketchum’s The Lost and Nick Cutter’s The Troop particularly stood out. I don’t write this lightly, but believe me when I say The Troop is one of the ten-scariest novels I’ve read. A should-be classic that kept me up until late hours of the night so I could see what would happen next. You will learn to fear worms.
New Horror Novel Releases
What about new horror novels released in the last year? Here are my picks.
2016 was a notable year for the horror genre, with several standout novels that captivated readers and critics alike. Here’s a list of five of the best horror novels from that year, though “best” can be subjective and varies based on personal preferences:
- “The Fisherman” by John Langan: This novel offers a mix of cosmic horror and human drama, focusing on two widowers who discover a mysterious fishing spot with dark secrets. Langan’s layered narrative and evocative prose earned the novel a lot of acclaim.
- “The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle: A retelling of H.P. Lovecraft’s story “The Horror at Red Hook,” LaValle’s novella both pays homage to and challenges Lovecraft’s themes. It offers a fresh perspective on cosmic horror and tackles issues of racism and injustice.
- “Hex” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt: Originally published in Dutch in 2013, the English translation was released in 2016. The story is about a town cursed by a witch’s presence, and the unsettling lengths the townspeople go to in order to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
- “The Girls” by Emma Cline: While it’s more of a psychological thriller than a traditional horror novel, “The Girls” delves into the dark side of human nature. It’s a fictionalized account of a girl’s involvement in a Manson-like cult.
- “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff: Set in the 1950s, this novel intertwines the horrors of Lovecraftian monsters with the very real horrors of racism. It’s both a critique of early 20th-century pulp fiction and a gripping horror story in its own right.
- “The Last Days of Jack Sparks” by Jason Arnopp: The novel tells the story of Jack Sparks, a controversial journalist who dies while researching the supernatural. Presented as a manuscript Jack left behind, it’s both a chilling horror tale and a biting commentary on social media culture.
- “End of Watch” by Stephen King: This is the third book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, mixing detective fiction with supernatural horror. King brings his unique style to the story of a retired detective and his final confrontation with an old nemesis.
- “The Apartment” by S.L. Grey: This is a chilling tale about a couple who swaps their apartment with a Parisian couple, only to find themselves in a nightmarish situation in a sinister and unfamiliar city.
- “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” by Paul Tremblay: A story about the mysterious disappearance of a young boy and the terrifying implications of the events leading up to it, Tremblay expertly blends psychological and supernatural horror.
- “The Fireman” by Joe Hill: This post-apocalyptic novel revolves around a deadly spore that causes its victims to burst into flames. Hill crafts a tale that’s both a horror story and a character-driven exploration of humanity.
- “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman: While it was technically published in 2014, its influence carried strongly into 2016 and beyond. In a post-apocalyptic world, an unseen presence drives people to deadly violence. The novel is a tense exploration of survival in a world where one’s eyes can be their worst enemy.
- “Livia Llewellyn’s “Furnace”: A collection of horror stories that span a variety of settings, from the familiar to the eldritch. Llewellyn’s prose is both poetic and deeply unsettling.
- “The Hatching” by Ezekiel Boone: A creepy and skin-crawling tale about an ancient species of deadly spiders that awaken and spread across the world.
- “Invasive” by Chuck Wendig: A thrilling and horrific story about genetically engineered ants which, when released, threaten to decimate life as we know it.
- “The Family Plot” by Cherie Priest: A classic haunted house story with a modern twist, this novel revolves around a salvage crew that discovers something deeply disturbing in an old estate.
These titles should offer a diverse range of horror styles and settings, ensuring there’s something for every fan of the genre to enjoy.
Each of these novels brought something unique to the horror genre in 2016, whether it was a fresh voice, a new perspective, or an innovative twist on traditional horror themes. If you’re looking for engrossing reads from that year, you can’t go wrong with any of these selections.
That’s it for this month’s reading list. I’ll be back with more horror novel recommendations soon. In the meantime, check out my interview with legendary horror author, Kealan Patrick Burke, on his novella, Sour Candy.
What have you read this summer?