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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror 2009: Part 3

Let's get right to it. You want some more great horror suggestions, right? Here are more titles I think are worth a read. All were published in 2009, all links go to Amazon, and all annotations are modified from the product descriptions on Amazon. I have added some of my own comments in red. Click through to read more about these novels and story collections, and don't forget to also look here where I have original annotations and readalikes for 10 more 2009 titles. For all of my Horror year-in-review posts, click here.

Cursed by Jeremy Shipp
You are: 1) Nick 2) cursed 3) afraid all the time That's because: a) someone or b) something is after you with a vengeance. Even with the help of other cursed people, you don't stand a chance because you're all, you know, cursed. That means you and everyone you know will: 1) suffer 2) die 3) amuse your tormentor That is, unless you figure out how to manipulate the person behind this and turn their power against them. Check your list a second time because they're probably on it. The only thing left to do is scratch them off. (realistically creepy)
The Shore by Robert Dunbar
In this sequel to the popular The Pines, as a winter storm grips the coastal town of Edgeharbor, a series of horrible murders terrorizes the residents. A young policewoman and a mysterious stranger are all that stand between the tiny town and an ancient evil. (Great small town horror)
His Father's Son by Bentley Little
Steve Nye's quiet life takes an unexpected turn when he receives a call from his mother. His father attacked her and has been committed to an asylum. The doctor says he's suffering from dementia. But Steve's father seems so calm, clear-eyed, and lucid when he whispers, "I killed her". Is it simply symptom of his father's delusion and madness? If only Steve were so lucky... (good new title by the man Stephen King has called, "the horror poet laureate.")
Flesh by Richard Laymon
No one in town has ever seen anything like it; a slimy, mobile tube of glistening yellow flesh with dull, staring eyes and an obscene, probing mouth. But the real horror is not what it looks like, or what it does when it invades your flesh - but what it makes you do to others. (Richard Laymon may be dead himself, but new scares keep being released upon us; bloody.)
Far, Dark Fields by Gary Braunbeck
Veteran horrormeister Braunbeck breaks literary rules by the handful in his latest dark fantasy yarn, which makes reference to 2007's Mr. Hands and 2008's Coffin County without exactly being a sequel. When a high school student goes on an inexplicable shooting spree, it stirs a host of memories for unassuming suburban English teacher Geoff Conover. Returning to Cedar Hill, Ohio, the town he left as an infant after surviving another mass killing, Geoff comes to realize that his personal mysteries are inextricably bound to his birthplace. (Great for fans and new readers alike.)
Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune
In a torrential downpour, Phil, Jamie and Martin-three teenage boys-encounter a strange and enigmatic man covered in horrible scars who will change their lives, their destinies and the very fate of their souls forever. When their encounter mistakenly leads to murder, they realize this eerie stranger may not have been a man at all, but something much more... Thirty years later the boys-now men-lead tormented lives filled with horrifying memories of the scarred man and what they did all those years ago in the rain. There will be only one chance for redemption, one chance for salvation, and one chance to stop the rise of an antichrist's bloody quest for demonic power. (For the demonic horror fans.)
Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan
Built on the Upper West Side, the elegant Breviary claims a regal history. But despite 14B's astonishingly low rental price, the recent tragedy within its walls has frightened away all potential tenants . . . except for Audrey Lucas. No stranger to tragedy at thirty-two—a survivor of a fatherless childhood and a mother's hopeless dementia— Audrey is obsessively determined to make her own way in a city that often strangles the weak. But is it something otherworldly or Audrey's own increasing instability that's to blame for the dark visions that haunt her . . . and for the voice that demands that she build a door? A door it would be true madness to open . . . (A reliable writer of dark fiction; great creepy atmosphere.)
Benjamin's Parasite by Jeff Strand
At any given moment, the human body contains millions of parasites. This is the story of just one. A really, really nasty one. Benjamin Wilson was having a lousy month even before the stomach pains began. Now everything is changing. His body is being affected in some very unpleasant ways. The biggest change is that he has a bunch of evil and/or psychotic people trying to hunt him down to acquire the parasite. His only hope is Julie, a gorgeous bounty hunter who may or may not have Benjamin's best interests in mind, and who may or may not be competent enough to help him anyway. Jeff Strand delivers his most outrageous adventure yet-an over-the-top mix of gruesome body horror and a wacky road trip comedy.(For the Humorous Horror fan)
The Glister by John Burnside
Since George Lister’s chemical plant closed down, Innertown has been a shadow of its former self. In the woods that once teemed with life, strange sickly plants grow. Homes that were once happy are threatened by a mysterious illness. Here, a young boy named Leonard and his friends exist in a state of confusion and despair, as every year or so a boy from their school vanishes after venturing into the poisoned woods. Without conclusive evidence of foul play, the authorities consider the boys to be runaways. The town policeman suspects otherwise but, paralyzed with fear, he does nothing. And so it is up to the children who remain to take action. (The Glister was picked by Amazon.com as one of the best of the month for March 2009.)
The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottham

Just weeks after four students cross the threshold of the derelict Fischer House, one of them has committed suicide and the other three are descending into madness. Nick Mason’s sister is one of them. To save her, Nick must join ranks with Paul Seaton—the only person to have visited the house and survive. But Paul is a troubled man, haunted by otherworldly visions that even now threaten his sanity. Desperate, Nick forces Paul to go back into the past, to the secret journal of beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare and a debauched gathering in the 1920s, and to the dark legacy of Klaus Fischer—master of the unspeakable crime and demonic proceedings that have haunted the mansion for decades. (Mentioned here by me as a readalike for The Unseen; also good for Shirley Jackson fans.)

Quarantined by Joe McKinney
The citizens of San Antonio, Texas are threatened with extermination by a terrifying outbreak of the flu. Quarantined by the military to contain the virus, the city is in a desperate struggle to survive. Inside the quarantine walls, Detective Lily Harris is working burial statistics duty at the Scar, San Antonio's mass graveyard, when she finds a murder victim hidden amongst the plague dead. But Lily's investigation into the young woman's death soon takes a frightening turn as yet another strain of the deadly flu virus surfaces, and now Lily finds herself caught up in a conspiracy orchestrated by a corrupt local government intent on hiding the news from the world and fighting a population threatening to boil over into revolt. (For the Swine Flu obsessed reader; timely)

Short Story Collections: Horror is alive and thriving in the short story form. For many readers, it is considered the best format for the genre. See for yourself.
Unhappy Endings by Brian Keene
Two-time Stoker-winner Keene includes 19 stories, many of which were previously only available in limited edition collections or numbered editions of his novels, in his gleefully gory fourth collection. These stories range from a violent, post-apocalyptic novella to quiet, supernatural human-dramas. (A good collection of one author's works.)
Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror edited by Ryan Thomas
Move over King Kong, there are new monsters in town! Giant beetles, towering crustaceans, gargantuan felines and massive underwater beasts, to name just a few. Think you've got what it takes to survive their attacks? Then open this baby up, and join today's hottest authors as they show us the true power of Mother Nature's creatures. With enough fangs, pincers and blood to keep you up all night, we promise you won't look at creepy crawlies the same way again. (For fans of B-movies and mutant animal horror.)
Midnight Walk edited by Lisa Morton
This collection presents 14 tales of terror and suspense by 14 different authors. This is a great collection on its own, with a stories for just about every horror fan. More important to note, this is the first release from Darkhouse Publishing, "a collective of writers, editors, and booksellers dedicated to publishing quality horror and speculative dark fiction." Look to this collection to find the next big horror writers. (annotation by me)
Dark Delicacies III: Haunted edited by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb
A stellar cast of horror writers comprise this third entry in the Dark Delicacies anthology series. These twenty-one short works will examine and lay bare all the ways in which we are haunted—both literally and figuratively. With a new novella from David Morrell and a short story Chuck Palahniuk is writing as a teaching class on his blog, interest in this anthology will prove that the third time is no trick and all treat! (This collection contains works by more well-known horror writers.)

Horror 2009: Part 4 will appear on Monday, when I will be featuring my favorite horror resources.

And later in the week look for my What I'm Reading report on The Unseen, Castaways, and Locke and Key: Head Games.

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