Well, it’s the end of the year, and book-wise, 2018 was awesome. I found many new authors and books and have managed to compile a to-be-read list of novels and collections that will keep me busy for the next couple of years at least. Looking back, here are some of my favorite stories from the past year. I should mention that this list is of the books I read this past year, and not necessarily new books that were printed in 2018. I enjoyed all of the books listed here, and they are not listed in any particular order.
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. This one is not a horror novel, although some parts of it are rather grim. It’s the tale of an Australian expatriate who makes it to Bombay, India, where he embarks on a personal journey through the underworld of that city. Shantaram is a beautifully written story, filled with life, love, laughter, and the grim truth of death, betrayal, and sorrow too deep for words. It’s a powerful tale.
Ghost Road Blues and Dead Man’s Song, by Jonathan Maberry. These two books appeared in the early 2000’s, and are the first two installments of the Pine Deep Trilogy by Maberry. Awesome story about the bloody and brutal events leading up to Halloween in the town of Pine Deep. Bad Moon Rising is the final part of the story, but as I’ve yet to read that book, it shall have to be on next year’s list. Maberry is one of my favorite authors, and if you’ve never read his work before, you should give the Pine Deep books a read.
Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiassen. This one is a mystery novel set in the Florida Keys. It’s one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a while. It’s about a man named Andrew Yancy, a Health Inspector who one day ends up with a human arm in his freezer. His subsequent investigation introduces him to a wild assortment of zany characters, including a voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen, a particularly foul-tempered monkey, and a new girlfriend who happens to be a coroner and has some particularly interesting romantic habits. Yancy himself is an oddball character. He was removed from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office after assaulting the abusive husband of his ex-girlfriend. It would seem that Yancy discovered a rather unique way of using a vacuum cleaner on the abusive husband. If you’re in the mood for a thoroughly entertaining and wildly funny novel, give this one a try.
Bird Box, by Josh Malerman. This book really needs no introduction, with all the buzz about it and the recent arrival of its movie adaptation. One of the best horror stories I’ve read in recent years, hands down. If you still haven’t read this one or at least seen the movie, you’re missing out. Badly.
For Emmy, by Mary SanGiovanni. This is a novella of cosmic horror. It’s a bit of a quieter tale, but I enjoyed it. If you like Lovecraftian stories, and especially those of the Cthulhu Mythos, you’ll enjoy SanGiovanni’s story.
Mayan Blue, by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, aka The Sisters of Slaughter. A riveting and quite bloody tale of terror that explores some of the darker elements of Mayan mythology. When what appears to be Mayan ruins are discovered in a cavern in the state of Georgia, a seal is removed from a door and hell subsequently breaks loose. The story focuses on two members of a team sent to explore the ruins, and who find themselves lost in the brutally dangerous Mayan land of the dead, Xibalba. This book was a definite page-turner. Any fan of horror should enjoy this story.
Coyote Songs, by Gabino Iglesias. Another tale that really needs no introduction. Great book written by a great author. Iglesias’ writing is a literary punch in the gut that hits hard and leaves the reader gasping for breath. I highly recommend this novel.
The Pale Ones, by Bartholomew Bennett. This is a straightforward tale of a man who makes his living buying and selling books, mostly through online markets. As he goes through the daily grind of searching out collections, he runs into another individual plying the same trade, who then leads him on a quest for rare literary gems that will garner substantial rewards. The man soon learns that all is not what it seems with his new-found associate. This is a quieter, but thoroughly enjoyable story, filled with a mounting sense of dread as the protagonist learns disquieting truths about his companion. Well worth the time and effort.
Angler in Darkness, by Edward Erdelac. I first discovered Erdelac’s writing several years ago when a friend introduced me to a weird western series known as The Merkabah Rider series. I will be writing more in depth about that storyline in a later blog post, but for now, I’ll just say that if you enjoy weird westerns, you definitely need to give the series a read. Angler in Darkness is a set of short stories written by Erdelac, set in a variety of times and locales. They are all enjoyable. While elements of horror can be found in his stories, Erdelac’s tales, in my opinion, are better categorized as heroic adventure. If you’ve never read him before, you can’t go wrong with this collection. He’s a talented writer and I’ve enjoyed every story I’ve read from him.
That’s it for now. A Happy New Year to all, and see y’all in 2019!