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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Booklist’s Top 10 Horror

Click here for the list of the Top 10 Horror titles as reviewed in Booklist from May 1, 2014 to May 15, 2015.

What is great about this list particular list from my vantage point is that since it is from Booklist, these are ALL books you should have in a general, public library horror collection. These are the best horror books from a journal that specifically reviewed them for a public library audience.

So, go check you shelves and order these up for your patrons. And I second Bill’s Christopher Conlon love [see below].

I have also reposted the list for the lazy among you below:

Top 10 Horror: 2015.

Ott, Bill (author).

FEATURE.  First published May 15, 2015 (Booklist).

This list of the best horror fiction reviewed between May 15, 2014, and May 1, 2015, covers the gamut, from an old-fashioned horror novel, tasting of blood and dust, to a zombie plague (what would a top 10 list be without one?) to a grisly, darkly comedic road trip.

  ConsumedConsumedBy David Cronenberg. 2014. Scribner, $26 (9781416596134).
For cineasts raised on Cronenberg’s twisted videos, his first novel will seem like a homecoming: a character who snips off pieces of her flesh and eats them, for example. His dense, aristocratic prose is saturated with details of technology, sex, and disease—all forms of cannibalism, he suggests—and every salacious bit is elevated to a thing of perverse beauty.

Fall of NightBy Jonathan Maberry. 2014. St. Martin’s/Griffin, $15.99 (9781250034946).
Picking up at the very moment Dead of Night ended, this sequel throws the reader headlong into a zombie plague. Maberry, no slouch at action and suspense, does some of his most visceral and terrifying writing ever here.

The House of Small ShadowsBy Adam Nevill. 2014. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (9781250041272).
From the opening line’s echo of Manderley (“As if by a dream Catherine came to the Red House”), readers will find themselves in the sickly sweet, rotted-silk grip of a decaying gothic nightmare. A haunted-house tale like no other, this is one of those rare horror novels that’s upsetting enough to make the reader want to take the damn thing out back and bury it.

  Lock InLock In. By John Scalzi. 2014. Tor, $24.99 (9780765375865).
This tightly plotted, highly imaginative tale takes place about 25 years after a virus called Haden’s syndrome left a small percentage of the world’s population locked inside their own bodies, conscious but unable to interact in any way. A genre-blending triumph that combines horror, mystery, and science fiction.

A Love like BloodBy Marcus Sedgwick. 2015. Pegasus, $24.95 (9781605986838).
In the aftermath of D-Day, an American soldier tours a Paris museum and comes upon a sight that will forever change (and damn) him: a man seemingly drinking a woman’s blood. Here’s a novel that tastes of blood and dust, just as a fine old-fashioned horror novel should.

Motherless ChildBy Glen Hirshberg. 2014. Tor, $24.99 (9780765337450).
Hirshberg takes readers on a grisly yet darkly comedic road trip in this outstanding southern horror tale about two single moms and their unfortunate encounter with a shadowy and irresistible singer known as the Whistler. This one is a spine-tingler with smart dialogue, a thickly atmospheric setting, and plenty of visceral violence.

PositiveBy David Wellington. 2015. Harper/Voyager, $26.99 (9780062315373).
Wellington uses the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop for a gripping story about the shattering of human society—the real villains here aren’t the zombies but, rather, the road pirates, looters, religious cultists, and other groups that have sprung up in the 20 years since the “crisis.” A masterful, epic-scale fantasy.

RevivalBy Stephen King. 2014. Scribner, $30 (9781476770383).
In the kind of loose, garrulous voice that has marked his last decade, King spins the yarn of Jamie Morton and Reverend Charles Jacobs, whose lives wretchedly intertwine for 50 years. This is one of King’s most harrowing, most fatalistic works, and it’s right in his horror wheelhouse.

  Savaging the Dark
Savaging the Dark

By Christopher Conlon. 2014. Evil Jester, $11.99 (9780615936772).
How’s this for a horror-novel opening: a terrified 11-year-old boy is gagged and handcuffed to a bed while our narrator, sixth-grade English teacher Mona Straw, licks the dirt from his feet. Conlon writes with literary depth and commercial aplomb; his days of too-little recognition seem numbered.

The String Diaries. By Stephen Lloyd Jones. 2014. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (9780316254465),
In this ambitious, memorable debut novel, Hannah is on the run, her young daughter and her grievously wounded husband depending on her for their own survival. Her destination: a remote farmhouse in Wales; but, rather than a safe haven, the farmhouse could be her last stand against an evil that has pursued her family for nearly 200 years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bram Stoker Award Winners

This past weekend the Oscars of the Horror world were given out in Atlanta-- The Bram Stoker Awards.

Here is the link to all of the winners.

This is a good time to remind you all to take stock of your horror collections. When these big genre awards come out, it serves as a reminder to look more closely at your holdings, assessing your strengths and weaknesses.

Specifically, from this year's honorees, the winner for First Novel, Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander, is a great add for all public libraries.  It was the only book I felt could challenge Bird Box for the win in this category.

See my more general post on how to use awards lists as an RA Tool.

Congrats to all of the winners.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Halfway to Halloween: Reader's Shelf Guest Column

Here is the link to my annual celebration of Halfway to Halloween in Library Journal.

Please consider celebrating at your library. It is a wonderful time to remind people that they loved reading horror in October, so why not try one now?  It is also a great time to start looking at your collections ,replacing classics, ordering award winners, and checking on upcoming titles.

I have copied the full column below too.

Halfway to Horror: Halloween Previews | The Reader’s Shelf, April 15, 2015

Ahh, April, the beginning of spring. Flowers budding, birds returning from their winter sojourn, and…time for monsters, hauntings, and havoc! Why not? Halloween is a mere six months away. Bring the holiday fun by promoting “Halfway to Halloween” with this collection of titles currently lurking in the stacks.
Readers looking for plenty of ambiance to set a horrific tone but without the gore can try Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan’s The Keep (Anchor. 2007. ISBN 9781400079742. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307386618). This gothic novel follows two estranged cousins who reunite to renovate an Eastern European castle. The combination of their strained relationship and the eerie edifice is atmospheric enough, but then Egan ups the ante with the addition of Ray, a convict in a prison writing program, who is the actual author of the cousins’ journey. The story-within-a-story frame presents an oppressive and anxiety-driven narrative that carries an intensifying sense of dread.
Although quiet and anxious terror can make an impact, there is something to be said for an all-out pulp fiction bloodfest, as long as it is accompanied by solid story­telling. In Castaways(Eraserhead. 2011. ISBN 9781936383931. pap. $11.95; ebk. ISBN 2940014008419), by Brian Keene, the contestants and crew of a Survivor-esque reality television show are caught in a fight for their lives as an indigenous tribe of murderous human monsters populates the island on which their games take place. Isolated even further by a violent storm, the characters are forced to switch from competing for prize money to battling for survival in Keene’s grisly and satirical page-turner.
While Keene is parodying current times, Sarah Pinborough has found inspiration for her disturbing stories hiding out in history. The first book of her “Dr. Thomas Bond” series,Mayhem (Jo Fletcher: Quercus. 2014. ISBN 9781623650865. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781623658762. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781623650872), takes place during the same period as the activities of Jack the Ripper. Pinborough uses the dread of her setting to great advantage in telling an equally ghastly tale of another killer who stalked London, also leaving body parts of women strewn all over the city. This macabre, well-plotted, and gripping mystery offers an unsettling peek into the face of true evil.
Those who would rather look to the future than wallow in the past might turn to Jonathan Maberry’s critically acclaimed and compelling near-future, post–zombie apocalypse YA series beginning with Rot & Ruin (S. & S. Books for Young Readers. 2001. ISBN 9781442402324. $17.99; pap. ISBN 9781442402331. $11.99; ebk. ISBN 9781442402348). Benny lives in a safe zone where the law dictates that every person age 15 and a half must select an occupation in order to contribute to society. Nearing his deadline, Benny accompanies his brother, a bounty hunter, outside the safe zone to see what that job is like. The decision turns Benny’s entire life upside down—not just because he has to combat hordes of ­zombies, but because he is forced to confront his own preconceived notions about the only world he has ever known.
The best horror stories of the last ten years are those in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s graphic novel series “Locke and Key,” which starts with Welcome to Lovecraft (IDW. 2008. ISBN 9781600102370. $24.99; pap. ISBN 9781600103841. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781600102370). The Locke children are typical 21st-century kids. Well, except that their father was murdered, their mother is finding solace in alcohol, and a wicked, supernatural being has been trying to destroy their family for generations. The Lockes live in a creepy, secluded historic home filled with hidden keys that do magical and dangerous things. The children collect the keys and learn how to harness their powers, leading to an epic showdown. The series combines a realistic and chilling plot with fantastic characters and art that is both beautiful and scary.
In Scott Smith’s The Ruins (Vintage. 2008. ISBN 9780307390271. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307266040), four American friends vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, meet a German tourist who enlists them in the search for his brother, who went missing on a trip to the Mayan ruins. Despite warnings from the locals, the five climb an ominous hill covered in flowering plants—a hill that ends up holding them captive. Forced into a mortal struggle with a monster, they soon regret their decision to enter the jungle. Smith’s petrifying, original, and gruesome story never lets up and is sure to make readers regard even the most common of houseplants with a touch of fear.
This column was contributed by Becky Spratford, a Readers’ Advisory and Teen Librarian at the Berwyn Public Library, IL. She is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, 2d ed. (ALA Editions, 2012), and a proud member of the Horror Writers Association. For more horror suggestions from Spratford, visit
Neal Wyatt compiles LJ’s online feature Wyatt’s World and is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader’s Shelf should contact her directly at

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Book Worth a Look: Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne

 Douglas Wynne broke on to the horror scene when he won JournalStone's 2012 Horror Fiction Contest with his debut novel, The Devil of Echo Lake (click here for my review).

His newest book Red Equinox came out in January. I am happy to say, Wynne is only getting better. Here is the publisher summary:
"The Red Equinox has dawned, and the old gods who have slept for aeons are stirring.  
Urban explorer and photographer Becca Philips was raised in the shadow of Miskatonic University, steeped in the mysteries of her late grandmother’s work in occult studies. But what she thought was myth becomes all too real when cultists unleash terror on the city of Boston. Now she’s caught between a shadowy government agency called SPECTRA and the followers of an apocalyptic faith bent on awakening an ancient evil. 
As urban warfare breaks out between eldritch monsters and an emerging police state, she must uncover the secrets of a family heirloom known as the Fire of Cairo to banish the rising tide of darkness before the balance tips irrevocably at the Red Equinox."
 Wynne's newest novel also got a write up in the March Issue of the International Thriller Writers Big Thrill online magazine.  Click through for a review and interview with Wynne.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WiHM: Shirley Jackson's Legacy and Award

Women writing horror today have much to owe to Shirley Jackson.  When "The Lottery" was written in 1948, she jolted America into the reality of the sinister actions lurking just under the surface of bucolic, small town America.  She was not the first person to set a scary tale in a small town, but she was doing it as a woman, which in and of itself was shocking.

In order to honor Jackson's legacy and importance, her estate has set up an award:
In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. 
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem has called Jackson “one of this century’s most luminous and strange American writers,” and multiple generations of authors would agree.
One of the nice side effects of this award is that while it is not officially only bestowed upon female writers, it is conscious of the contribution of women in a way no other major dark fiction award is.

As a result, the lists of past nominees and winners includes a ton of female writers of dark fiction!  This is an excellent resource to use to identify Women in Horror, specially those on the edges of pure horror, which tends to be very male dominated both in readers and critically acclaimed writers.

But as we all know, there are plenty of women who love horror.

So, while WiHM may be winding down this week, you can identify excellent women who are writing terrifying tomes all year long with a quick click here.

And as a special help to us librarians, these are going to be among the most mainstream options.  These are titles you probably already have in your collections.  Now you have no excuse not to suggest some great scary titles.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Is Horror Winners and Bram Stoker Nominees

Here is the link to the winners of the This is Horror Awards announced this morning, including Horror Novel of the Year and one of my favs of 2014 hands down, Bird Box.

I have also posted all of the winners below.

Yesterday, the final Ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards was also released. Hint, Bird Box is on there too [why haven't you read it yet?!?!]. Click through to see the full final ballot.

This Is Horror Awards 2014: Winners

It’s that time again. We’re announcing the winners of the This Is Horror Awards 2014. Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who voted, it’s your participation that makes the This Is Horror Awards such a special occasion. Now to the winners.

This Is Horror Awards 2014: Winners

Novel of the Year

Bird Box
You write because you love reading, and you write horror because you believe in the monsters, you believe in the imagination, you believe in the dark. I BELIEVE IN THE DARK. Maybe you start with poems, unrelated chunks, paragraphs. This may lead to short, freaky stories. Then you’re finally writing books and (holy cow) now you’re publishing books. And then you receive a notice that your book, your scary book, has won the best novel prize from a great website, a purity in the field. Nobody does it better than “This is Horror” and so not only is this a glorious chain of events for me, it’s also a magnificent HONOR. Thank you, This is Horror, and may I always maintain my end of the bargain, that when a reader reads a book of mine they will think, ‘THIS is horror.’

Film of the Year

Winner: SnowpiercerRunner-up: The Babadook

TV Series of the Year

Short Story Collection of the Year

After The People Lights Have Gone Off Stephen Graham Jones

I feel like the Hamburglar: I tiptoed in theatrically behind all those other excellent collections and stole this one away. Thanks to Richard Thomas and Dark House Press for making After the People Lights Have Gone Off such a pretty book, and getting it out in the world, and thanks to all the editors and magazines and anthologies I wrote most of these stories for, and thanks to everybody who read and voted on it. And thanks to horror, for always being there each time I turn the lights off.

Anthology of the Year

Burnt Tongues Chuck Palahniuk

I know I can speak for Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Widmyer when I say that we’re honored to win this award. It’s been a long journey from the original workshops and nominations, to the final selections, to putting this out into the world. Chuck says, “We return to troubling films and books because they don’t pander to us—their style and subject matter challenge, but to embrace them is to win something worth having for the rest of our lives,” and I couldn’t agree more. Medallion Press has been extremely supportive, as have the authors, some going on tour and reading with Chuck, the overall reaction from readers somewhere between thrilled and scarred for life. It’s really been a group effort, working with Dennis and Chuck, as well as all of the talented authors to bring this eclectic collection of transgressive stories out into the light. Medallion had this to say, as well: “It’s been a privilege to join Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer on their mission to bring the remarkable work of twenty authors to a wider audience, and we’re grateful to This Is Horror for honoring each of them with this award.”

Publisher of the Year

Severed Press

Winner: Severed PressRunner-up: ChiZine Publications

On behalf of all the editors, cover artists and of course authors, I would like to say a huge thank you for voting Severed Press Publisher of the Year 2014. To have all their hard work recognised this way means a great deal to us.

Magazine of the Year

Nightmare Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams February 2015
Winner: Nightmare MagazineRunner-up: Fangoria
Wow, thank you so much! It’s quite an honor to be selected as ‘Magazine of the Year,’ especially amongst such stiff competition! Thanks so much too to all of the writers and editors who work on Nightmare with me–without them, of course, it wouldn’t exist.

UK Event of the Year

dead by dawn logo
Winner: Dead by DawnRunner-up: FrightFest

Book Cover of the Year

Last Projector

It’s an absolute thrill to win Best Book Cover of the Year. Thanks to the voters, This Is Horror, and to David James Keaton and the folks at Broken River Books for bringing me on board. You have all made this an incredible journey.


Tattoo Artist of the Year

Ollie Tye This Is Horror Tattoo Artist of the Year
A huge thank you to all who voted and support me in doing what I love. Lots more sexy monsters coming your way soon.

Podcast of the Year

Booked podcast
Winner: Booked. PodcastRunner-up: The Last Knock
I’m ridiculously excited to be selected for this award again. Thanks to This Is Horror and to the listeners who voted for making this possible. Clearly, you have excellent taste and solid decision making skills. See ya next year!
I’m truly honored to be named the podcast of the year. Thanks to This is Horror and to everyone that voted. This award is the fire that I’ll hold to our feet when we get lazy. Here’s to another year of horror excellence!

Friday, February 20, 2015

WiHM 6 Author Spotlight by Ginger Nuts of Horror

Today, I wanted to point out this list of 6 Female Authors You Should Pay Attention To by Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Click here to read the article and learn more about Ginger Nuts of Horror.

So, while I usually only spotlight 1 author in these posts, today, thanks to Ginger Nuts of Horror, I am giving you 6x the horror fun.

You just need to click through to see it.