It’s that time of year. Critics and reviewers all over the globe are creating their “best of” lists, celebrating the movies, books, and music that swept us into other worlds, stirred emotions, and in the case of horror, chilled us to the bone.
I’m no different, really, and while many of my fellow iHorror writers are working away creating their own list of movies for the year, I decided that I would focus on the horror books of 2018 that deserve one more round of attention before the dawn of 2019.
Perhaps you’ve read them, or perhaps this will be your first introduction, but I guarantee there is something on this list for everyone!
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
#5 Hark! The Herald Angels Scream
First up on our list is an anthology of 18 short stories curated and edited by author Christopher Golden!
Each story in this particular tome is connected to Christmas in one way or another, and each reminds us of a time when Christmas Eve was meant for scary stories around the fireplace.
While each is a standout in its own right, some of my favorites include Josh Malerman’s terrifying “Tenets”, Sarah Pinborough’s genre and culture blending “The Hangman’s Bride”, and the hilariously dark “Good Deeds” from Jeff Strand.
#4 Bad Man: A Novel
A creeping, disturbing southern Gothic masterpiece of mood and atmosphere, Bad Man tells the story of a young man named Ben who loses his younger brother Kevin in the local grocery store. No, Ben didn’t lose Eric; he simply vanished into thin air.
Years later, Ben has never stopped looking for Eric, but as his family falls apart around him, he has to find a job, and the only business hiring is none other than the very store where his brother disappeared.
As he goes to work stocking shelves overnight, he can’t help but notice the very strange things that seem to happen around him, and Ben begins to piece together the story of just what might have happened to Eric all those years ago.
He has no idea how unprepared he is for the truth. Pick up a copy today!
#3 The Cabin at the End of the World: A Novel
Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World takes a classic horror trope, the home invasion story, and turns it on its head.
Eric and Andrew take their adopted daughter, Wen, on vacation to a secluded cabin. The young girl is precocious and inquisitive, and while she’s outside catching grasshoppers, a large man named Leonard emerges from the woods.
While briefly won over, Wen begins to expect something is wrong when Leonard tells her “None of what’s going to happen is your fault.” Three more men emerge from the woods and as Wen runs to tell her dads, Leonard calls after her, “We need your help to save the world.”
Once inside, the men reveal that a sacrifice must be made in order to stop the coming apocalypse, and the sacrifice must be one of Wen’s family.
The Cabin at the End of the World is a gripping story fueled by paranoia that Stephen King called “thought-provoking and terrifying.”
If it isn’t on your reading list already, make sure you add it today.
#2 Meddling Kids
Who would have thought that H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos could mix so easily and readily with the high jinks of a series of books for children called the Famous Five?
Edgar Cantero did…and if you add just a splash of Scooby-Doo into the mix, you’ll find yourself right in the middle of his novel, Meddling Kids.
It’s been 13 years since the Blyton Summer Detective Club solved the mystery of an amphibian-like creature that was stalking the countryside near their vacation home…or so they thought.
Since that time, their lives have fallen apart in various ways, and when one of the members insists on a reunion to get to the bottom of what happened to them once and for all, they find themselves face to face with monsters who aren’t just real estate developers in masks!
Cantero breezes through different writing styles to tell a story that is as hilarious as it is scary, and while it certainly pays homage to the previously mentioned fictional worlds, the best part about Meddling Kids is that it ultimately creates a world that is all its own.
Thommy Hutson’s debut novel surpassed my every expectation this year.
I knew that he was a capable writer, having been a fan of multiple movies he’s written and his non-fiction book Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, but I was just not prepared for how good this book really turned out to be.
Jinxed is, at its core, a literary slasher that kept me guessing until the final page was turned. Hutson translates the tropes we horror fans know and love into a novel that rivals Lois Duncan’s I Know What you Did Last Summer.
The suspense is high; the kills are gory, and as a masked killer slowly picks off a group of friends trapped at their posh school for the performing arts, you just might find yourself reading with every light in the house on for comfort.
Bonus Title: The Haunting of Hill House
Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. The Haunting of Hill House is almost 60 years old!
This is true, but Shirley Jackson’s novel, which will never go out of style, had its own revival this year when it was loosely adapted into a series for Netflix.
Jackson’s prose holds up better than many novels of its time, and as a whole new generation of fans have discovered, it’s just as chilling as when it was first released.
The tale of Dr. Montague, Nell, Theo, and Luke, and their strange and increasingly dangerous encounters in the storied halls of Hill House has captivated some of the greatest genre writers for decades.
Stephen King noted that it was “[One of] the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last 100 years” and Neil Gaiman has remarked that “It scared me as a teenager and it haunts me still.”
If you’ve never read this genuinely spooky novel by one of the legends of the genre, then you owe yourself a copy with a recommendation from me to read it on a chilly wintry evening with a heavy dose of brandy in hand.