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Find more Top 10 Horror
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.
Consumed. By 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 Night. By 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 Shadows. By 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 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 Blood. By 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 Child. By 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.
Positive. By 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.
Revival. By 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. 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.
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