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!
OK horror hounds, it’s time for some basic training. I understand there are a lot of new recruits out there, and even some lifers, that need the foundation to become a true horror aficionado. Now, put your chainsaws and machetes down and listen up. I’m going to give you a list of books and authors you must know inside and out. Are you hearing me Private Pyle?
Decades later and I still obssess over Full Metal Jacket. I’m not going to say you look like 50 pounds of chewed bubble gum. I won’t raise my voice. I’m simply here to open your horror eyes a little wider. Shall we begin?
This is what you should read to see how a master works their trade. I’m only leaving out Stephen King because he’s soooo obvious.
Algernon Blackwood. Get your hands on everything he’s ever done. Read it at night and enjoy your nightmares.
M.R. James. I can’t count how many horror writers cite him as an inspiration.
Richard Matheson. He’s the author of I Am Legend, Hell House, the best Twilight Zone episodes and Kolchak, The Night Stalker. “Nuff said.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Maybe the scareist haunted house novel ever written.
The Store by Bentley Little. So close to the truth that it’s terrifying.
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. I’m always astounded by how many folks in America have never heard of Herbert. He’s only like the Stephen King of the UK. You can’t lose with any of his books, but I highly suggest you start with this one. He just passed away last month, so cherish each book as you tread down the path of discovery.
Curfew by Phil Rickman. Another UK import, Rickman’s books can be hard to find, but when you do, treasure them.
Richar Laymon. He was taken from us way too soon, but thankfully he was prolific. Almost every up and coming horror super star waxes poetic about his books. My favorites are Bite and One Rainy Night.
Ghoul by Brian Keene. Yes, Keene may be responsible for resurrecting the zombie genre, but Ghoul is still my favorite.
Oh no, I’m not stopping at 10. My list goes to 11.
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. Words can’t express how great this book is.
You have your list, now hit the bookshelves. Hard. Stay tuned for part 2 where I highlight movies.
And if there are any books/authors you feel should be on the list, speak now or forever hold your peace.
Don’t get me wrong, Stephen King and Dean Koontz are great writers and I’ve read dozens of their books. But there are so many other excellent authors out there that most people have never heard of. So, I feel it’s my duty to spread the word about these captains of the horror world and some of their better books. Every month I’ll post 3 different books so you have time to pick them up and read them. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
1. The Store, by Bentley Little. — Bentley is a master at exposing the dark fears hidden behind every day people, places and events. He’s arguably the best in the biz now. The Store is a twisted story of a Walmart-ish superstore run by the worst that hell has to offer. Clean up in aisle 666!
2. Necroscope, by Brian Lumley. This is the first in a series of vampire books that Lumley wrote in the 80’s. After all the crap we’ve seen about vampires, this should purge the sparkle from them. These beasts are otherwordly and downright savage. Possibly one of the best horor series ever written.
3. The Magic Cottage, by James Herbert. Not many folks in the US know about his work. Basically, James Herbert is the Stephen King of the UK. And this book is one of his best. Thanks to my pal Karl the Welsh Dragon for turning me on to him.
So now the question is, what books do you think should go on this list?
Need more horror? Brave enough to enter the Forest of Shadows?
What are some of your favorite horror novels? It’s always great to discover new authors and books.