This was one of those wonderful months where every book I read was gold. No, I’m not King Midas. I just had luck when picking books off my shelf. As such, I would recommend all the books below—especially if you’re looking for well-written, exciting horror.
I’m putting a moratorium on buying books until I attend KillerCon this August, where I will no doubt go crazy and pick up every book I can find. So for now, I’m working my way through the numerous books on my shelf, hoping to make a dent before the deluge.
On Writing by Stephen King
I first read this “memoir of the craft” a decade ago and thought it needed revisiting. I discovered that much of the advice within was already incorporated into my writing from my first readthrough. More than that, it changed my thoughts on many topics including plotting and editing, as well as providing me with a multitude of helpful tidbits. Two autobiographical pieces (King calls it his “CV”) bookend the actual writing advice. I initially thought these would be less interesting, but instead found myself riveted as I followed his evolution as a writer. In the end, this book helped me as much now as it did a decade ago.
Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson
For a series called “Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein,” this book was as much crime thriller and science fiction as it was horror. Incredibly readable and edge-of-your-seat exciting, it might be my favorite Dean Koontz novel—even if it wasn’t solely written by him. This continuation of Mary Shelley’s classic takes place in the present day, where Victor Frankenstein seeks to create a New Race of his own design to conquer humanity. The story was originally meant for a TV show, and that’s apparent in the short, choppy chapters. There are four more books in the series that I’ll definitely be reading.
The Vanishing by Bentley Little
Bentley Little is fast becoming my favorite horror author. This book only solidified that. I can pick up any of his books without reading the back cover and know I’ll enjoy it. Like all his books, The Vanishing is beyond original. You never know how the seemingly disparate storylines will tie together. When the extremely wealthy are involved in gruesome murders, a young reporter seeks the dark truth—a truth that has its origins in the pioneering years of the California Gold Rush. Little uses extreme horror masterfully but sparingly to avoid numbing the reader.
Tales From the Realm: Volume 1 ed. Dustin Schyler Yoak
This anthology contains the best stories in 2017 from the dark fiction magazine Aphotic Realm. It had been sitting on my shelf far too long, and I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did. These really are phenomenal stories, and I can see how they earned the descriptor “best of.” My favorites include the immensely fun “The Yellow Door” and the downright brilliant “Number Seventeen.” I must admit that a couple stories didn’t do it for me. These were well-written, but both were dark fantasy, a genre that just doesn’t appeal to me.
An Occurrence at Crazy Bear Valley by Brian Keene
I’m not a big fan of westerns or Sasquatch horror, but Brian Keene’s combination of the two produced an incredible novella. A gang of rough outlaws takes refuge in a cabin in the woods only to be set upon by “crazy bears”—the Indians’ name for the Sasquatch. I felt as if I was in that cabin as the foul-smelling creatures attacked. At the end was a bonus story with an even more unlikely combination: cowboys, zombies, and dinosaurs. I’m a fan of Keene’s work, and this novella and story live up to his reputation.