Friday, April 11, 2014

Top 10 Horror


I’ve been writing reviews on Spooky Reads for a few years now. Following talks with several people over recent months I’ve decided to put up a top ten of my favourite scary, freaky, weird and horror-filled tomes for my fellow readers. Thus follows a dynamic list (in that it will be updated at least once a year – both reflecting changes in opinion of books old and new) of what constitutes my top ten horror books.
The list is non-exclusive and reflects, as do all reviews on the site, my opinions only. I’ve tried to include where possible those horror, supernatural and weird fiction novels which have been reviewed on the site, but there may be, from time to time, one or two included which haven’t yet been reviewed.
There have only been a couple of horror books that I can remember that have kept me awake with excitement to finish them. With Outpost, Adam Baker builds theterror-sensation from claustrophobic beginnings to exciting and equally shocking conclusions as the woefully doomed crew of the Kasker Rampart oil platform fight for survival against a multiple enemies, living and dead. As action packed as it is frightening.
Brutalist horror-author Gary McMahon writes some bleak, provocative and powerful horror prose. I consider Dead Bad Things to be a supernatural tour de force, following protaganist Thomas Usher as he struggles with his ability to connect with the dead. This is no dreary imitation of the ‘communing with the dead’ book-type however. This is deftly chiselled horror fiction at its best.
Nevill is my favourite British supernatural horror novelist, and with every new piece of work that he writes it seems he cements further a world-class portfolio of horror fiction. In Apartment 16 he creates a chilling world of supernatural horror fiction, tainted with the weird and threaded with ideas of insanity and corruption. This one book contains some of the scariest paragraphs I’ve read.
interview-with-the-vampire-book7. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
As beautiful as it is compelling, Interview with the Vampire is a supernatural vampire book that redrew the boundaries of this genre. Oft imitated, this book kick-started an interest in the vampire in popular contemporary culture, inviting countless reinventions by others along the way. Make no mistake: no Interview with the Vampire, no Sookie Stackhouse, no Twilight. Simples.
call-of-cthulhu-cover6. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft seems to be one of the most recognised classic horror authors. Thankfully, with recognition from some of the big-guns – Stephen King et al. this genius of a weird, supernatural author has seen an epic resurgence in popularity. Even dance music songs have been written in acknowledgement to his greatness. Read this book, and find out how the foundations to the modern horror movement were laid almost 100 years ago.

5. Hell House by Richard Matheson
Matheson’s Hell House is a haunted house book to end all haunted horror books. Chilling, scary and packed full of supernatural malevolence. I use this super scary book as a yardstick against other haunted house books.
4. The Woman In Black by Susan Hill
With a hugely successful stage adaptation that has run for years, and a recently released and highly popular film starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter-fame, The Woman In Black has clearly made an impact upon the wider world. For anyone wanting a damn fine and chilling quick fix, pick this short novel up, and be ensured a spooky and most horrifying experience.
3. The Shining by Stephen King
I love Stephen King’s work. I could easily dedicate him his own top 10 list, or top 20. Possibly 30. But it was with The Shining that he first cemented the concept of scary but quality horror fiction, and kept me reading and turning pages, pulled by forces of fear, anticipation and dread that couldn’t be ignored. This takes successful Matheson-style Hell House concept, grows it, and transposes it onto a hotel.
This classic, not just in the annals of supernatural literature, but globally recognised for its contribution to the literary canon, was published in 1818, having been penned by Shelley when she was just eighteen years old. What’s more amazing is how goodFrankenstein is, how intelligent, how probing of those timeless questions of mortality and creation. And also how finely scary and horrifying. Read this book, at once!
I consider The Monk to be the precursor to the modern horror novel. Think Richard Laymon in 1795. Introducing splatterpunk to the world 200 years before that great pulp horror did so. This book is a melting pot of supernatural and horror ideas, and bubbles over religious themes of high sensitivity at the time the book was written. Scary, touching, thrilling, brilliant.