Welcome to part four of my personal favourites from the past year ... The Novels. In terms of review and reading horror novels this has been a funny year. It has only been in the last few months that I have actually really read any horror novels, let alone actually write up any horror novel reviews. This has certainly been the year of the horror novella for me. Having said that there have been some fantastic horror novels. Hell even some "proper" publishing houses have embraced the genre.
One thing I have noticed is my move away from the more schlocky cliched type of horror novel to the more introspective and supernatural one. Am I finally growing up?
So click on the read more to find out what i think was the best of the year.......
Looks can be very deceiving can't they? Take a look at the cover; it looks the cover of a book you would find in Tescos doesn't it? Well don't let that fool you, this is a book that should lay to rest the argument about self publishing. It was only after I finished reading it that I found out it was self published. This is top quality product. But production values aren't the be all and end all in a book, it's the story that matters. So it's a good thing that Russell Mardell's Bleeker Hill is one hell of a story.
A bleak dystopian novel set in a not too distant future where the UK has ripped itself apart a small band of people hope to seek refuge in Bleeker Hill. A very bad idea, as this isn't the safe haven that everyone thinks it is. The horrors that await at Bleeker Hill will scare you to the very core.
This is a riveting book that balances the horror of a broken country and the lengths at which a man will go to survive, with subtle line of supernatural terror. Where Russell excels is in his ability to infuse the story with an intelligent look at psychological and moral dilemmas that face our rag tag group of survivors, while still maintaining a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Some of you may remember that Graeme Reynolds High Moor was one of my favourites in last years horror novel review round up. And it is makes me very happy to see the direct sequel High Moor II : MoonStruck makes this year list as well.
The first book came at a time when myself and the majority of the horror world were getting fed up of sparkly vampires and rotting corpses of the zombie genre. High Moor was like an adrenaline shock to the genre, with its high octane savage and visceral take on werewolves.
High Moor II : Moonstruck, takes the foundations laid down by its predecessor, and lifts the werewolf novel to a brand new high. This action packed novel has everything you could ever want from werewolf novel, silver bullet machine guns, killer werewolf verse werewolf fight scenes that will have you fist pumping like crazy. All topped with with a fantastic cast of characters.
High Moor II : Moonstruck leave you over the moon with horrortastic joy.
Please forgive the pun, but Neil Spring was an author who literally sprung up on me this year. For those of you who doubt the power of a good cover, then let this show you the error of your ways. Having never heard of this book or its author I would probably have walk on by it, however the wonderfully evocative and understated cover spoke to me, it whispered into my ear buy me I'm worth it. And man was it worth it? Oh Yes indeed.
The Ghost Hunters is a supernatural tour de force. Based on real events The Ghost Hunters is a highly evocative study in slow burning terror. Like all good ghost stories the scares don't come from cheap shocks, but from a gradual feeling of unease. Told from the perspective of Harry Price's fictional assistants case notes, this fictional recounting of the events that took place at Borley Rectory in the 1920's and 1940's was a pleasure to read.
Neil Spring has created one of those ghost stories that cries out for a BBC Christmas adaptation. The Ghost Hunters is the perfect winter read.
I'm a creature of habit who likes his comfort zone. Horror is my comfort zone, and much like my well worn trainers I don't like to try something different. So as to why I chose to read this fascinating book I really can't tell you. But I am glad I did, this is one of the most peculiar and captivating stories I have ever read. Quirky, wistful, and complicated this novel almost defies description.
Thoughtful, intelligent, and at times playful, this story about Ella and her encounters with the Rabbit Back Literature Society, will leave you smiling, and at times scratching your head in wonder at the imagination of the author.
I've just finished this book and to be honest I need bit more time to fully digest this marvellous book. Expect a full review in the new year.
Adam Nevill is a giant of the genre. Whenever you talk about horror fiction breaking out into the mainstream in the UK, this is the author you need to talk about.
House of Small Shadows is Nevill's fifth novel, and it carries on the excellent tradition of storytelling whose foundations were so brilliantly laid down by his debut novel Banquet of The Damned.
Where Adam Nevill excels is his ability to write a story whose basic themes may be well used, for example the monster in the woods as in Ritual or the haunted apartment as in his novel Apartment 16, and give them a whole new ans unique voice. His ability to shift the tone and style of his writing yet at the same time keeping it an Adam Nevill novel is also amazing.
With The House of Shadows Nevill has crafted one of the most claustrophobic, and disorientating novel of recent years. You can feel the novel's roots burrowing their way into this dark and twisted narrative, of paranoia, memories and ones fate.
As is should be for a novel like this the cast should be small and fully developed. From the wonderfully creepy and disturbing housekeeper, to the main protagonist Catherine. Nevil has layered these characters with a great deal of depth.
Personally I loved how Nevill made the brave move to have Catherine act as a passive character, one that is thrown around the narrative like one of the creepy dolls of the book. In most horror stories we are given a reactive or aggressive character as the main protagonist. One who go forth and solve the mystery. Now while this may be good from a narrative point of view, I don't think it is particularly believable. Seriously how many of you when faced with what happens to Catherine in this book would act in a reactive way? Very few of you, like Catherine the majority of you would be pushed along as she is. This for me was a work of genius as her actions are among some of the most believable in recent years.
If you are looking for a well written, creepy story that will leave you disoriented and unnerved then this is the book for you. House of Small Shadows is my book of the year. I wasn't going to name my book of the year, but there it is folks I've said it.
Read Part 1 of my review of 2013 here
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