Picking a favorite list of books for the year is hard. Imagine for a second sitting at your laptop trying to come up with a list that stands heads and shoulders above whatever everyone else picks. It’s hard as hell. As a reviewer I’ve received a lot of great books this year. When I decided to write this blog I felt a little like this.
I have noticed that horror is doing quite well this year. Guys like Matt Shaw, Stuart Keane, and Kyle M. Scott are waving the horror banner and consistently writing great horror novels. I’m still waiting patiently for the latest novel from Jim Goforth. Goforth is one hell of a writer too. When you look at the bizarro side of it there are guys like Brian Ellis, Matthew Vaughn and even new guys like the man beast Pedro Proenca who have wrote really good novels as well. It’s been a good year for fans of books. I have never attempted a blog like this so the goal was to write it and feel like this:
Here is what I did. I drank some coffee and decided that yeah, this has to be numbered, but these are all books you should read. Doesn’t matter where they’re at numerically. It matters where they are in your heart, and in your mind. So here are about fifteen books that I felt were true standouts of 2015. No order at all despite being numbered.
15. Shaun Hupp – The Shaun Hupp Collection Volume 1.
Short story collections are often hit or miss. You have writers that may have one or two good stories and then fill up the rest with whatever they had left on their hard drive. Not the case here. Shaun has talent and writes reality based horror that really sits in your head and festers. As a horror fan I love stuff that deals with people themselves as the monsters that we all fear. Hupp’s debut collection is one that grabs you by the throat and squeezes until you feel as if you’re going to pass out.
14. With Tooth And Claw – Jim Goforth
Goforth isn’t like normal writers. He makes his own rules and writes stuff that reminds me of how awesome classic old school horror was. When I read Plebs it was hands down one of my favorite novels of 2014. When this was released I bought it immediately. It may be a short story collection but it also shows a writer that has grown quite a bit. For newer fans it gives you an opportunity to check out a writer who is taking the splatterpunk genre into the future.
13. The Mind Is A Razor Blade – Max Booth III
The influences here are too many to name but if you like dark noir fiction, or ever wonder what Dark City would look like if David Lynch directed it you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. Booth just doesn’t write in one genre. He experiments in many and it all flows seamlessly. You have elements of bizarro and splatterpunk making out with science fiction, but it never bogs down the plot. If anything all of these different genres make the overall story that much better, and stronger.
12. Motherfucking Black Skull Of Death – Matthew Vaughn
Not for the easily offended and one of the craziest novels I have read this year. Add one part splatterpunk, one part bizzaro and boom! I picked this knowing that people would balk at reading something like this, but if you choose not to read it you’re missing out on one hell of a book. Vaughn is a talented writer that knows how to blend all of the violence and insanity into one of the coolest novels of 2015.
11. Hexad – Andrew Lennon, and Matt Hickman
Two writers each contributing stories? Sounds sketchy as fuck right? Not at all. These guys bring the horror and this collection is all about finding the balance and challenging the other writer to top what the other just wrote. It’s a great horror collection from two new horror authors. I realize that there are a few short story collections here, but trust me when I tell you that when you read them you’ll thank me later.
10. The Ancient Lawman – Ian David Noakes
This is a classic novel that is a tribute to the classic slasher films of the 80’s. Well written and a blast to read. I love that sometimes horror gets this bad rap of being terribly written and derivative. Not the case here and Ian is a writer to keep your eyes peeled for. I think when you ask me why I like horror you’ll peek at this blog and you’ll have the answers you seek.
09. Aftertaste – Kyle M. Scott
This is another writer that came into 2014 with a phenomenal debut. Aftertaste is exactly what horror fans crave in their novels. Kyle has writes like a man possessed. Is it dark? Check! Is it violent? Check! The point is that Kyle writes novels that use the violence to fuel the story and Aftertaste is all a part of a movement to make horror exciting again. If you’re a fan of dark violent horror then this is certainly one you shouldn’t miss.
08. A Head Full Of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay
This is on everyone’s must read list for a reason. It takes everything you think about horror and throws it on its head. It’s hard to be original these days and Ghosts manages to be just that. It doesn’t make things easy and allows you draw your own conclusions. Are they right? You’ll just have to find out on your own.
07. Cine – Stuart Keane
Picking just one Stuart Keane novel is hard because this guy just isn’t capable of writing a bad novel. Cine is my favorite for a handful of reasons. Cine shows that Keane has a knack for writing highly addictive fiction that has a meaning behind it. Every time I crack open one of his books I’m reminded of the late Richard Laymon. For horror fans who are looking for something different here you go. Keane is one of my favorite authors and there will probably be another book of his on this list. It’s my list after all.
06. Tables Without Chairs #1 – Brian Ellis, And Bud Smith
A bizarro novel about making shit up as you go along. There is no way to accurately describe this collection because it’s a variety shit thrown against the wall to see what sticks. If you’ve never read a bizarro novel this is a fine place to start.
05. Flashes Of Fiction: Halloween Special 2015: A Flash Fiction Collection
This was a lot of fun to write for and I swear that I’m not picking this because I have a story in it. It breathes new life into the werewolf, zombie and vampire genre while keeping the stories short. All of the authors in here have done an amazing job and each story is original and proves that horror can fresh and exciting.
04. Kill For A Copy
Dark Chapter Press has unleashed one hell of a debut that assembles a wealth of talent that proves that horror is still a force to be reckoned with. As a new publisher it’s important build a solid brand with talented writers and this does exactly that. While the press is still building a solid foundation with amazing titles this was the one that put them on the map.
03. Gillian’s Marsh – Michael Faun
Michael Faun is a relatively new to most people but this is writer has already established himself with the indie scene. His debut with Riot Forge is impressive due to its originality. It takes history and blends in with horror, but never grows stale or boring.
02. Grin – Stuart Keane
A tale of revenge and further proof that as a writer Keane continues to write solid novels that take horror to the next level. This is the kind of book that gets writers noticed. If you’re looking for classic horror this is one not to be missed.
01. Protection – Kyle Scott
This was a surprising novel and one that Kyle didn’t think I’d like, but I did because it’s not the usual style that we’ve come to know. It’s a gripping and haunting novel that is based more on atmosphere than gore. Either way this is the best book that Kyle has written.