Quantitatively, I didn’t read that much these past two months—so I’ve combined the books into one post. I lost a week and a half of reading time after I came down with COVID, and for much of the past month, I’ve been making my way through the gargantuan novel It. Still, I managed to read some good books.
Addicted to the Dead: Relapse Edition by Shane McKenzie
We’ve all heard of zombies eating people ad nauseum, but what about people eating zombies? By eating undead flesh, the living can ensure they don’t return after death. But too much and it becomes a potent drug, creating hordes of junkies. McKenzie takes this premise and turns it into one hell of a book. This so-called “Relapse Edition” contains a short story and two novellas set in this crazy world. Standing out is the hitman Calico, a sadistic killer that you can’t help but cheer for. In the end, it was the perfect marriage of extreme horror and bizarro fiction.
Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden
I adored Golden’s novel Strangewood and was eager to read more of his work. Dead Ringers had strong characters, swiftly moving prose, and a terrifying premise. Its conclusion chilled me. Yet for some reason, the book didn’t pull me in. I can’t figure out why. Still, this novel was the best example of doppelganger horror I’ve read. There are few things more frightening than having your life and identity stolen by a replica, and Golden plays to this fear well. Ultimately, it just didn’t engage me on some level. I knew I was reading a book.
To Offer Her Pleasure by Ali Seay
Weirdpunk Books puts out winner after winner. Their signature recipe of well-written horror novellas with a touch of the weird checks all the boxes for me. To Offer Her Pleasure is a shining example of this. It is a story of coming of age, of the descent into evil, with a protagonist you still root for no matter his actions. Ben finds a book in his deceased father’s library, a book that hungers for flesh, compelling him to provide sacrifices. This was a phenomenal novella. I imagine you’ll see it again on my list of Top 10 books of the year.
It by Stephen King
This is one of those books that every horror writer (and fan) should read. At 445,000 words, it’s one of the longer novels I’ve read. Let me just say it’s brilliant, especially the seamless transition between past and “present.” It’s by far my favorite coming-of-age story, triggering a strong nostalgia for my own childhood. Ultimately, the climax was disappointing (and disturbing, but not in a good way) after investing all those hours reading. I believe the book could have been just as good with 300 less pages, but at the same time, I think I would have still enjoyed it if it had 300 more.