Howdy there, Hunter’s Hellions! I figured I had to call you all something. I think Hellions fits.
Looking back, I managed to read over 80 books last year. Any time I can get in over 75 books, I’m happy. I’m envious of folks who can speed read books yet still retain everything. I’m no tortoise, but I’m no hare, either.
Coming up with a top 10 horror books list was no easy task because I read so many damn good books. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting a clunker from a mile off, so if I sit down to read a book, it’s usually good.
Now, some of these books didn’t come out in 2015. All that matters is that I read them in 2015. I’m hoping this can help you discover some titles you might have missed over the past couple of years. So, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite horror reads of last year (in no particular order, because I was fracturing my brain trying to do it), plus some honorable mentions…
10. THE HAUNTED by Bentley Little
Little has always been one of my favorite authors. He takes all of the everyday insanity we’ve surrounded ourselves with in America and injects it with pure evil. The Haunted is one of the best he’s written in years.
The Perry family’s new house is perfect-except for the weird behavior of the neighbors, and that odd smell coming from a dark corner in the basement. Pity no one warned the family about the house. Now it’s too late. Because the darkness at the bottom of the basement stairs is rising.
9. VIDEO NIGHT by Adam Cesare
Oh man, this book reminded me of all the great horror flicks of the 80s. Adam is one of the best new writers out there, and Video Night is a great place to start!
Who knows more about fighting a monster invasion than a group of teenage horror fans?
Billy Rile is smart, adept at Nintendo and has a killer Hi-Fi setup. Life is good. But he has no idea that an alien life form has infected his town, a creature that overtakes and transforms its host.
8. DARKNESS RISING by Brian Moreland
Hands down the best novella of 2015. Brian Moreland always kicks ass…and I mean always. This is now my favorite of his books. Tender yet terrifying.
t’s all fun and games until…Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him.
7. LITTLE GIRLS by Ron Malfi
This is classic horror in the vein of Peter Straub and Stephen King at their best. This is sure to go down as a classic. I know it’s one I’ll read again and again. I was extra proud to be his Kensington Publishing brother in 2015.
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die.
6. THE BORDER by Robert McCammon
The master returns to the genre that he defined! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’ve long said McCammon is the best who ever scribbled a tale of terror. The man hasn’t lost a step.
World Fantasy award-winning, bestselling author Robert McCammon makes a triumphant return to the epic horror and apocalyptic tone reminiscent of his books Swan Song and Stinger in this gripping new novel, The Border, a saga of an Earth devastated by a war between two marauding alien civilizations.
But it is not just the living ships of the monstrous Gorgons or the motion-blurred shock troops of the armored Cyphers that endanger the holdouts in the human bastion of Panther Ridge. The world itself has turned against the handful of survivors, as one by one they succumb to despair and suicide or, even worse, are transformed by otherworldly pollution into hideous Gray Men, cannibalistic mutants driven by insatiable hunger.
5. MR. MERCEDES & FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King
I got up to Maine a week after King was signing copies of Finders Keepers. My timing sucks. The first 2 books of his trilogy are as different from one another as they are engaging. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out!
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.
In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.
4. PRISONER 489 by Joe R Lansdale
Lansdale should be a household name. Every book he writes is gold. Prisoner 489 is a terrific novella that centers around one of my favorite horror tropes. I won’t spoil it for you. Get the book, now!
On an island with a prison for the most evil and powerful criminals in the world, a new prisoner is strapped to the electric chair for execution. After multiple surges of electricity and nearly knocking out power to the entire island, the prisoner is finally dead. The staff buries him in the prison graveyard with a simple marker baring three numbers: 489.
After the body is buried, a violent storm rocks the islands and a staff member goes missing. The crew rushes into the storm, searching for their lost comrade. They find that the burial site of prisoner 489 has been unearthed, and the body that was inside has gone missing.
3. LORDS OF TWILIGHT by Greg Gifune
You all know I’m a sucker for anything that deals with aliens. In fact, another alien book is part of the honorable mention crew. This is one of the most terrifying ones I’ve read in a while. Loved it.
Strange things are happening in the small, isolated town of Edgar, Maine. Mysterious lights dot the night skies. A local farmer is found dead at the summit of a hill with no evidence as to how his body got there. Livestock is disappearing, only to be discovered later, dead and mutilated with precision-like wounds. And despite the coming of an enormous winter storm, odd men identifying themselves simply as ‘federal agents’ have converged on Edgar in government vehicles as if in anticipation of some greater event.
2. JAGGER by Kristopher Rufty
Cujo on meth. That’s the best way I can describe this. Once again, Rufty populates his novel with sketchy characters doing terrible things. I couldn’t put it down.
Other than the trailer park left to her by her deceased daddy, Amy’s favorite treasure is Jagger, her 180-pound bull mastiff. One day while she is away, Clayton, her best friend’s scumbag boyfriend sneaks into her yard and takes the dog. His prize fighting pit bull was killed during its last match, costing a lot of bad people a lot of money. To make up for his dog’s losses, and to save his own life, Clayton enlists the help of a medical student dropout to turn Jagger into a killing machine by pumping him full of experimental drugs and muscle enhancers. Now Jagger is a monster, a beast that can’t feel pain, with an unquenchable thirst for blood. He quickly breaks out of his pen and starts making his way home, tearing apart anyone in his path on his way to the one he feels has betrayed him the most—Amy.
- THE HUNGER SERIES by Jason Brant
I ate this trilogy up like they were White Castle and I was fresh off a 2 day bender. This is a post apocalypse world bursting with beasties that would make the walkers in The Walking Dead shit themselves, if they had working colons. I highly recommend them. The books, not the shitting zombies.
Day One: A series of terrorist attacks spread a cloud of noxious gas over highly populated areas.
Day Two: Higher brain function erodes in those exposed to the gas. Their bodies begin to distort, faces distending, skin sallowing, teeth elongating.
Day Three: The infected disappear into the shadows, fleeing the harsh daylight which has begun to sear their flesh.
Day Four: The world is DEVOURED.
And now for the honorable mentions. All of them could easily have made my top 10. It was that close! Get these books as fast as you can.
Q ISLAND by Russell James (apocalyptic goodness!)
THE PENDLE CURSE by Catherine Caendish (witches & time travel – yes!)
BLOOD AND RAIN by Glenn Rolfe (restored my faith in werewolf tales)
BEHIND THE DARKNESS by Robert Dunn (aliens done right – scary)
GOBLINS by David Bernstein (cryptids – what more can I say?)
OK, there you have it, my top 10 (really 15) horror tales for 2015. I could had added so many more, but I have to get out of the house.
Have you read any of the books I listed? What would make your top 10? What do you think I should be reading in 2016?
Keep flying the horror flag, my Hellions!
I had the distinct pleasure of getting an early crack at my Samhain brother’s werewolf novel, Blood and Rain. Like a hungry wolf on the prowl under a full moon, I devoured it. Glenn Rolfe has created a real popcorn creature feature with a badass of a werewolf. It’s the perfect read for the Halloween season.
Today, I’m happy to turn the controls over to that mohawked dude in Main, Glenn Rolfe. Take it away…
“An unoriginal original? Oh, hell…let’s just keep it real.”
When I started writing Blood and Rain, I’d seen plenty of werewolf movies, but had read only two novels. Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf and Ray Garton’s Ravenous (both excellent pieces). When I decided that the story I was toying with on my computer was going to be my first attempt at a novel, a werewolf novel, I purposely stayed away from any and all werewolf books and film. I didn’t want anything subconsciously sneaking into my book that was someone else’s. I figured my best shot at writing a werewolf story that wouldn’t feel like every other werewolf book was to steer clear of those who came before me. Obviously, if you read the book you’ll see I didn’t stray too far off the legend engrained in all monster lovers: man can only become a werewolf by being bitten by the beast, the beast appears with the cycle of the full moon, and silver is a killer.
I am not going to stand on a soap box and preach nonsense like “my story is the most original of all werewolf tales.” That would be ridiculous and completely false. I placed my novel in a small town in Maine (just about every King novel), I have a flawed sheriff–widowed father to a teenage daughter (who drinks a little more than he should and has many a secret), my teens try to enjoy their summer action at the lake…but where I hoped Blood and Rain would make its mark is with how real the characters seem, how real their problems are, and well I place you or someone like you face-to-face with a number of horrifying situations with the beast. How would you act if this scene or that scene happened in real life? For instance, if your car broke down and you stepped out on a back road in the middle of the blackest night? When the wind and rain force the trees to sway in a rage? Where twigs snapping turn to loud, thick branches breaking? Where grunting quickly turns to a howl? Where your stomach drops to your ankles and your blood gives in to the chill…into the fear…of what shares this moment (your last?) with you?
I can only write as Glenn Rolfe. I couldn’t cop someone else’s style if I tried. I hope you’ll give Blood and Rain a chance. I hope you’ll get sucked into this streamlined wolf story and feel the danger, the unease, the struggle of imperfect people, and the moments of impossible strength they can summon in the face of death.
Join me in the woods, won’t you?
Blood and Rain, Synopsis
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.
Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen. Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.
Find Glenn Rolfe at: http://glennrolfe.com/ as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Biography, Glenn Rolfe
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.
He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will be released in March, 2016.
You don’t even have to go to hell to stride along with this demon. I’m very happy to announce that The Dover Demon Blog Tour has begun, 6 weeks of cryptid love with chances to win signed books and more. This may be a critter you’ve never heard of, but I promise you’ll never forget him…or her…after you’ve read the book.
“Hunter Shea takes these (cryptid) legends to a petrifying new place and drags you along for the ride. He is quickly becoming of the authors I can count on for a great read. 4.5 out of 5 stars! Horror Maiden’s Book Reviews
Big thanks to Erin El Mehairi for putting everything together. She is truly the patron saint of horror’s lost boys. Visit the tour stops by clicking the above image and make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win signed books.
You can get The Dover Demon in trade paperback or ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Publishing and everywhere books are sold. This little sucker doesn’t phone home and he’ll do very bad things with Reese’s Pieces if you let him.
Jack and I jaw about The Dover Demon in the latest episode of Monster Men, as well as some great horror movies you should add to your to-watch list for #Horrortober. Oh yeah, it’s that time again!
Oh yes, the day is finally here. My latest foray into the world of cryptozoology horror – THE DOVER DEMON – takes one of the lesser known but strangest of all cryptids on a wild adventure that has thoroughly creeped out advance readers and reviewers. Having faced Bigfoot in SWAMP MONSTER MASSACRE and delved into the mystery of THE MONTAUK MONSTER, I wanted to tackle a cryptid that hasn’t had as much public recognition. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum 2 years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON.
While I was there, I was lucky enough to meet famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman. We got to talking about creatures he’s personally investigated. Turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April. He also gave it its name, the Dover Demon. As a lover of monsters and aliens, I couldn’t resist. I mean, look at that mug!
Believe it or not, to this day, people still aren’t sure what they saw. Yes, today most people would see the image and think it’s an alien from a visiting UFO. But here’s where it gets interesting. The witness who drew the first image did it before the ‘gray alien’ became an internationally recognized icon! This was before the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind and years prior to Whitley Strieber’s Communion.
I was so fortunate to have an early release event at the I.C.M. in August. I got to spend some quality time with Loren Coleman and meet people just like myself who are fascinated by the wondrous creatures that have been spotted around the world. Cryptid fans from out of state made the drive to get some Dover Demon love!
At the time it was spotted, it was treated as a terrestrial creature, though the high strangeness of the event brought MUFON to the town as well. No one could figure out what came to visit Dover, and the story hasn’t been recanted by the witnesses even 30+ years later. So, the mystery continues.
My novel takes on several questions:
- What if other people saw the creature that night but never reported it because their run in with the creature was as terrifying as it was strange?
- What if the Dover Demon makes a return in 2015? What would it, or they, want?
- What if it isn’t anything that people have theorized it to be?
Here’s the official blurb for the book –
In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.
Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?
I lovingly wrote this for all the monster/cryptid/horror lovers out there. So take my hand and let’s walk the moonlit paths of Dover. You never know what you’re going to find.
You can get THE DOVER DEMON in trade paperback and ebook. Click here to access my bookstore page!
And if you’re in the Portland, Maine area, check out the International Cryptozoology Museum, or visit the website and support Loren’s little gem, the only museum dedicated to cryptids in the world.
When I was a kid, I used to fantasize about what I would do in a post-apocalyptic world, thanks in large part to the movie, DAWN OF THE DEAD. I’m talking the original, not the remake that was kinda cool, but still can’t hold a candle to Ken Foree kicking undead ass. Everywhere I went, I would check out my surroundings and look for escape routes or places where I could burrow inside to ride out the worst. And the end of the world didn’t need to have zombies (like everyone thinks today). I wanted to be Charlton Heston in THE OMEGA MAN (version #2 of Richard Matheson’s classic, I AM LEGEND), tooling around in a sports car, watching movies in a theater all by myself, having all kinds of guns at my disposal and knocking back scotch like a real man.
All those years of wondering, what if, have finally come to fruition with my latest paperback out with Pinnacle books today, TORTURES OF THE DAMNED.
The more I read about the various weapons floating around on the black market for any crackpot with a grudge to buy and unleash on innocent people, the more I want to slip away to some out of the way place, honing my doomsday prepping skills. In TORTURES OF THE DAMNED, I was able to live out my darkest fears, pitting an average family against impossible odds. Imagine going about your day only to see the sky erupt with strange explosions. First, everything electronic stops working. Communications are lost, planes fall out of the sky, cars careen headlong into one another. Then come dark clouds roiling with chemicals that can kill on contact. What do you do? Where do you run? And what depths would you sink to in order to survive?
The world the Padilla family finds themselves in is stark, bewildering and terrifying. It’s amazing to think how little it would take to throw civilization into the stone age.
So take my hand and let’s face the apocalypse together. I promise I won’t let go.
Some very early reviews :
“Everybody ought to read TORTURES OF THE DAMNED. It’s all too realistic, and far too plausible. 5 stars” – Mallory Heart Reviews
“Resoundingly exciting, punchy, and more than a little brutal. 4 stars” – Michael Patrick Hicks
“I couldn’t turn the pages of TORTURES OF THE DAMNED fast enough! 4 stars” – ck2s Kwips and Kritiques