And now for this week’s list from The Broke and the Bookish, in no particular order:
1. It – Stephen King
I’m not usually a Stephen King reader, but It is a masterpiece of horror. I find clowns to be creepy to begin with, but Pennywise can keep me up at night as he’s a being of unimaginable terror. When I first read this book, I have no idea what I was getting into, so the reveal of what was happening to the group of protagonists over decades was incredibly frightening and nightmare-inducing. I still shudder when I hear the phrase “we all float down here”.
2. Locke and Key Series – Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodriguez
Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, and he seems to have inherited his dad’s ability to craft a suspenseful and horror-filled story. Locke and Key is a tale about a family ripped apart by supernatural forces that didn’t seem so terrible to begin with. When their father is brutally murdered, the three Locke kids and their mother move back to the old Locke manor where the kids start to discover a series of magical keys. Some let you become a ghost, others let you change gender, and some even let you peer inside your own head! But using these keys comes with a price…
3. The Hallowed Ones – Laura Bickle
The Hallowed Ones is a very unique YA dystopia because the main character is a teenage Amish girl in a world filled with vicious vampires. While this description might seem a bit unusual, the book has an extremely effective setting and plot that made me not want to turn off the lights. The vampires in this book do not sparkle or lead rock bands; they are bloodthirsty beasts that tear people apart and even have some mind control powers. Also, the female lead in this book is amazing!
4. I Am Not a Serial Killer (and the rest of the John Wayne Cleaver Series) – Dan Wells
John is not a typical teenager. If he was over the age of eighteen, he’d be diagnosed as a sociopath, but so far he’s only been labelled as having conduct disorder. His whole life is organised around rules that he’s created to help him make sure that he doesn’t become a serial killer. His research into other killers and his work at his mom’s mortuary seem to keep him stable, but what happens when a serial killer sets up in his home town? Dan Wells manages to write a creepy series without making a loathsome protagonist. Also, the twist in this story is pretty interesting, making this a horror book rather than just another murder mystery.
5. Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites – Evan Dorkin/Jill Thompson
I suspect that there have been more than a few absent-minded adults who have picked up this book for children without realising what it is really about. After all, the art is gorgeously rendered in watercolours, and the main characters are an adorable troupe of dogs and cats. However, these pets are more than just fluffy cute things; they are magically-inclined agents working against the forces of darkness. They deal with creatures that kill indiscriminately, evil spirits called forth from other dimensions, and vengeful ghosts. Animal Rites is a collection of stories that will definitely send shivers down your spine!
6. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War – Max Brooks
World War Z is a collection of first-person recollections of the zombie war. Based on texts from World War II, this book is chilling because it seems so real and possible. As the stories are from people all around the world, it’s impossible to imagine a safe place during this time period, just a great deluge of fear and death.
7. The Newsflesh Trilogy (Feed, Countdown, and Blackout) – Mira Grant
Mira Grant graces another one of my top tens because she is just that awesome. The Newsflesh trilogy is a zombie story with a lot of politics and science thrown in. However, even though the world is fleshed out more than your average zombie book doesn’t mean that readers aren’t treated to many hair-raising zombie attack scenes. There’s a lot of heart in Grant’s trilogy, but our heroes are often only moments away from being eaten. Definitely a fun, but intelligent read for the spooky holidays!
8. The Works of Edgar Allan Poe
It doesn’t really matter what you pick up by Edgar Allan Poe as all his horror works are delightfully dark and macabre. He’s one of the literary greats of the genre, and his writing is beautiful and unique. Read some his stories and poetry to understand many of the horror tropes that are still in use today!
9. The Price – Neil Gaiman (from Smoke and Mirrors or illustrated in Creatures of the Night)
The Price is a simple story that manages to be utterly chilling despite its length and small scope. A black cat moves in with the author, and every morning the cat seems to have another injury, each worse than the last. But no matter what the author does, the cat will not stay inside during the night, and whenever the cat is forced to remain in the basement to heal, bad things happen to the author and his family. What exactly is the cat protecting the family from? This story is very effective in both text and illustrated form, and I look forward to the animated feature being released soon!
10. A Study in Emerald – Neil Gaiman (from Fragile Things)
Take Sherlock Holmes and stick him in Lovecraft’s world and you get this creepy little story from Gaiman. I can’t say much about it without spoiling the entire thing, but the atmosphere is a fantastic combination of Doyle and Lovecraft’s universe, and it’s a very disturbing view of a very different Earth.