So today, I came across an article by Bill Sheehan, in which he selects what he considers to be the best horror fiction of 2019. I can’t quibble about the books he did put on his list, as the buzz I’ve heard about them is nothing short of positive. I do, however, have a bone to pick about the many, many books released this year that didn’t even garner a mention.
To start with, how about “The Haunting of Henderson Close” by Catherine Cavendish? “The Bone Weaver’s Orchard” by Sarah Read? “The Migration” by Helen Marshall? “Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones” by Micah Dean Hicks? “Collision: Stories” by J.S. Breukelaar? “Isolation” and “Tapetum Lucidum” by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason? “The Worst is Yet To Come” by S.P. Miskowski? “Wilder Girls” by Rory Power?
Sheehan did mention Rachel Eve Moulton and Lois Murphy, and that’s commendable, but his exclusion of so many other wonderfully talented women writers leads me to wonder if perhaps he’s largely unaware of the bulk of contemporary women authors in the horror genre. I’ve mentioned a few above, but by no means have I exhausted the list of horror novels and anthologies/collections written and edited by women this year. Mr. Sheehan, surely you can do better than this.
This list is one of the least diverse ones I’ve seen this year. Mr. Sheehan, you really need to dig deeper. There are so many writers and books out there that seem to have escaped your radar.
Aside from the diversity issue, there is also a glaring omission of works put out by smaller presses. The elitist notion that only bestsellers and books published by the larger publishing houses are worthy of mention needs to come to an end. That idea does a grave disservice both to the community of writers and to the much larger group of all the readers out there. So many wonderful, engaging, gripping, and well-written books are published every year by small press publishers, and their contributions largely get ignored by the big-time reviewers. By overlooking the small presses, those reviewers are also doing a disservice to themselves.
Mr. Sheehan, I urge you to look past the New York Times Bestseller lists. Get out there, do some digging, and you’ll uncover many treasures, most of which I bet will be completely new to you. I’ll give you a few names to kickstart your search. In addition to the authors mentioned above, you need to google the following: Christopher Golden, Victoria Schwab, Jennifer McMahon, Matt Hayward, Gemma Amor, Cherie Priest, Rio Youers, Mary SanGiovanni, Jac Jemc, Chad Lutzke, Jonathan Janz, Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson, John F.D. Taff, John Horner Jacobs, J.H. Moncrieff, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Donna Lynch, Caitlin Kiernan, and James Chambers.
There are so many more, but that list will get you started.
I wish you luck on your journey!