This week, it’s all about my favorite books that go under the genre horror. To celebrate the upcoming Halloween, I gathered ten stand-alone novels or book series that managed to move me and scare me, all at the same time. Let’s get down to it.
1. Hot Blood series
Hot Blood series, the thirteen volumes of terrifying short stories with elements of sex and desires. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, why the mixture of sex and horror is so intriguing. Sex, in my mind, adds an intimate layer to horror, making horrific things like murder seems even more personal and offensive. These books had been in my possession for years now, but I’m still in the middle of reading it. Part of me doesn’t want it ever to end, so I end up reading one or two books a year. I am looking forward to read another one, the 6th book, this year, right after I finish up two more books in the Sleeping Beauty series. I’ve tried to write mini reviews about each and every short story I read from this series, but the way I’m writing those reviews is still evolving. So I’m not going to link to my reviews here, I might just re-read them someday and write better reviews. 🙂
2. Necrophilia Variations by Supervert
First thing first, you can read my review of the book at my old blog. I couldn’t possibly write any better than I already did two years ago about Necrophilia Variations. It was my favorite book of the year 2014, and I still remember it fondly. As the title suggests, it’s a collection of short stories all revolving around the theme of necrophilia. Definitely not an easy subject to throw yourself in, and maybe that’s why I’m putting it in the horror genre, although after reading it, I really don’t think this book belongs in the horror genre. These stories are not written to scare you, it just happens to be about a subject that is more commonly viewed as terrifying. I think this little collection of stories helped me a lot when I first dived into the BDSM scene, it helped me to keep an open mind about everything, it taught me the true meaning of ‘your kink is not my kink’ and vice versa and despite of that I still know how to respect it. Necrophilia Variations would not turn you into a necrophiliac, but it might broaden your mind and even change you for the better. That’s what it did for me.
3. Horror from Jack Kilborn (aka J.A. Konrath)
It was the book ‘Afraid‘ by Jack Kilborn that persuaded me to get my first e-reader from Amazon back in 2011. I’m a big fan of real books, and I like holding a real book whenever it’s possible. But then I came across a reason that as an avid horror reader, I simply couldn’t ignore. There is a whole new world of self-publication when it comes to horror, simply because these books are deemed too terrifying and would go under a heavy handed censorship surgery just to get it out as a paperback. And some books just simply wouldn’t be the same after that kind of a shave. So I am very glad of channels and possibilities of these horror books to find a home at places like Amazon. So if you like your horror hardcore, offensive, in-your-face and rough on the edges, pick up any book written by Jack Kilborn, which is the pen name of J.A. Konrath who is more of a crime and thriller guy. I’ve read almost every book from Jack Kilborn, and they feed a very distinct horror appetite that to this day, I simply couldn’t find an exact replacement for. So I hope they would keep coming.
4. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Long before I became a Stephen King fan, I liked the idea of being a fan of Stephen King. My liking to everything started at a very young age and I was at the brink of moving from Goosebumps and the kind into a more adult realm. And who doesn’t know about Stephen King, quite literally the king of horror. It was back when I still used libraries, so I picked up every King novels I could find in the library and attempted to devour them all. But there is something you need to know about King, he’s definitely not easy. I swear I couldn’t get into any of his books and for a while it seemed that however cool it was to call myself a Stephen King fan, I simply wasn’t able to be. Luckily, I found ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon‘. And the girl and I just clicked. And while reading the book, I also learn that one needs to be extremely patient while reading anything King. Here’s how most of King’s books go. There will be a very interesting theme established in the beginning, sometimes already at the title of the book. But then there are going to be several hundreds of pages of build-up, which I would like to call the whether-you-are-worthy-of-the-King testing period, during which the limits of your patience is going to be tested. And the last fifty pages or so, that’s the what-the-fuck stage. That is the part that is going to reward the reader’s patience with glorious and literal shit hitting the giant fan and it would all be worth the wait. Or not. It’s either or, fortunately most of the time it’s worth it. Once you accept this… arrangement, then you are on your way to become a Stephen King fan. 🙂 So if you are looking for a gate-way drug to the SK addiction, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a good choice. You are welcome.
5. Misery by Stephen King
I do have to give King some credit though, not all of his books are tests. I own almost of his books, and among so many, I chose one that does not go according to his usual routine, but is WTF all the way from page one to the bitter end. And also, Misery is the best King movie adaption ever, Katie Bates slayed. But still, the book is always better than the movie, so even if you’ve seen the movie already, I highly recommend the book. But if you’ve never heard of Misery, then you’re in for a treat. It’s a story of admiration turned into dangerous and deadly obsession, surely one of Mr King’s own personal nightmare. Misery is about a writer who decides to end one of his long running book series (as dangerous as not ending a series *looking at George R.R. Martin*), and that doesn’t really sit well with his number one fan. Many of King’s bests are stories not of anything supernatural, because as we all know, us humans are the most terrifying monsters after all. Aliens, ghosts and vengeful gods don’t have a thing on us. And also, after reading Misery, you will be able to understand this prank a little better and not be all silly in the comments like those who are not in the know. 😛
6. Out by Natsuo Kirino
So Japanese horror movies fall into two main categories: the first is the fucking terrifying ones like ‘Ringu’ that would easily make you shit your pants, create endless nightmares and scar you for life about public toilets and TVs. And then there are the bloody fun J-horror with exaggerated gore and truck-fuls of fake blood like ‘Tokyo Gore Police’ and ‘The Machine Girl’. A little warning about both of this categories, what is once seen can’t be unseen. There are some rare gems in J-horror movies that are scary but elegant at the same time, and those same words I would use to describe novels from Natsuo Kirino. I’ve read one of her novels ‘Out‘, and it had made a huge impression on me. There is nothing supernatural in ‘Out’, it’s a story about a woman who works in a factory. The description about her mundane every day life is something mesmerizing, making her out-of-the-ordinary act even more shocking. It’s a world that was easy to get lost in, you get to see a completely different side of the Japanese culture that might not be so well-known, but is nonetheless very very interesting. And like I said before, there is a certain elegance to this novel, that is hard to describe. Maybe it’s the livid imagery Natsuo Kirino is able to create with simple words, ‘Out’ is the novel that made me wish I know how to read Japanese so I can tap into the endless and fresh supply of horror from the land of the rising sun.
7. Newsflesh series by Mira Grant
The first book of this zombie series is ‘Feed’, a clever play of a word that can mean both the act of feasting on something or someone, and also the news feed. It’s a mixture of a zombie story, conspiracy theories and blogging. 😀 It’s about two bloggers, brother and sister, and ‘Feed’ is about their journey to find out just what had caused the zombie apocalypse this time around. It’s not the most original of story ideas, but I guess it is quite a fresh point of view to see this communication-wise, because in most of the zombie movies, the Internet is also pretty dead. It took me a whole book to really get into it, the leading characters appeared cold and inhuman just like the zombies they tried to run away from. But in the end of the first book, something changed. I noticed that I’ve fallen for these imperfect characters, without me knowing. I haven’t read the other books in the series yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
8. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
I’m fluent in Finnish too, but for some reason I hardly ever read anything Finnish. But there is this one collection of short novels, the title roughly translated in ‘Handless Kings’ by Johanna Sinisalo that had aroused my need to consume peculiar, Lovecraft-like horrors. And after I read that, I went on the hunt for more. Of course there are Lovecraft itself and anything from Edgar Allan Poe, but they both seemed a little grander than what I’m really looking for. Then I came across this little collection of short stories by Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories. Her stories are haunting and eerie, written in the matter-of-fact kind of tone that creeps me the fuck out. A pinch of macabre here and a dash of Gothic there. Her stories would flood you with a sinister vibe that would leave you unsettled and rattled. Just as good horror is supposed to leave you.
9. Wool by Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey is a self-publishing hero who carved himself a writing career out of nothing and slingshot into international fame with his brilliant scifi series that started with a short story called Wool which then turned into a brick of a book, and a series. Strictly speaking, Wool is a scifi and dystopia story. But throughout the whole book, one of the most prominent theme is the sense of claustrophobia. It’s a story about the scrap of whats left of mankind living in a giant silo-like structure underground when the world as we know it got to a level of being inhabitable. Like in every generations, there are dreamers, those who wonders what the outside world is like despite all the warnings. It was completely terrifying and I simply couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live inside. Or what it would be like if you are forced to go outside. The pace of the story is extremely mellow, although the story is anything but. It’s exciting and suspenseful and it creates a completely original world that has so much more to offer and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
10. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
You must have heard of ‘World War Z’ the movie. You might not know that it’s loosely based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks. And only some of us know about a book called ‘The Zombie Survival Guide‘. Just as the title and the subtitle of the book promises, this is truly a guidebook against the living dead. It takes the matter so seriously and tells everything matter-of-factly that it’s at the same time extremely funny but with a lingering sense of unease in the background because it feels like the zombies is a real threat. After all the practicality, there’s a little collection of stories in the end of the book about zombies all around the world, in case you need more convincing that zombies are real and the fucking brain-eaters are coming sooner rather than later. This book will entertain the heck out of you, but it will also educate you. Once you’ve read it, you will feel like you are ready to face the flesh-hungry bastards. Don’t you want to be ready for the apocalypse? I know I do. 😛
So there it was, horror books for almost every need. I hope you enjoyed reading this list. Next week, it’s all about horror movies. Until then, have a good night sleep. 😉