I’m a huge fan of horror; practically bordering on obsession. I love both horror movies and literature. I can’t get enough of horror books—novels, novellas, chapbooks, anthologies—you name it, I’ll read it. The problem is, unless you’re as big a horror fan as I am, that particular genre can be tough to find from major publishers. Oh sure, you’ll find books by Stephen King, Peter Straub and Anne Rice; but have you ever seen, in your local Barnes and Noble books by Tim Curran, Michael Louis Calvillo, Poppy Z. Brite, or Tim Marquitz? If you look online, you might find them, but horror is a label that a lot of authors shy away from. They prefer the term “thriller”, be it psychological or supernatural. There is also a large market for paranormal romance—but that’s for another time.
Horror is thriving thanks to small publishing houses that focus on genre fiction—horror, urban fantasy, sci-fi. Publishers such as Damnation Books, Grand Mal Press, Permuted Press, Genius Publishing and Samhain Publishing, just to name a few, are putting out some fine books by some amazing authors. Within the horror writing community, authors such as Brian Keene, Gord Rollo, Tom Monteleone and John Skipp are just as huge as King, Rice, Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz. So where does a borderline horror fan begin? What should you read to introduce yourself to writers you may never heard of?
This is where I come in. I’ve been reading and reviewing horror books for over four years and can help guide you through the myriad of writers and publishers out there on the web. Below is a sampling of books, both wonderfully written and well-edited that I highly recommend.
The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham (Morrigan Books 2011)—this is a collection of short stories that deal with everything from vampires to zombies and fairies. The stories are subtle in their telling and most will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Blood Spring by Erik Williams (Bad Moon Books 2010)—a novella about what happens to a married couple who get lost in a state park while trying to release a deer back into the wild. This is a great story as well as a cautionary tale about venturing too far into the unknown forest.
Blood Orchard by S.D. Hintz (Black Bed Sheet Books 2010)—an excellent book about a small town in the wake of the disappearance of a set of teenage triplets and the possibility of a connection with another disappearance long ago. Is it a local resident or the newest resident of the town of 37 people?
The German by Lee Thomas (Lethe Press 2011)—a subtle horror story about a town where young people are being brutally murdered and suspicion falls on the German immigrant community. It takes place just after the end of World War II but focuses on one man in particular and his unusual circumstances. It’s an excellent take on suspicion, mob mentality and racism.
So there are four books that can get you started. You can find all of them on Amazon.com in both paperback and digital editions. Seek them out and tell your friends about them. Spread the word about horror fiction!