Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Today, I'm doing my end-of-the-year wrap up by listing, all in one post, the worst horror books and the best horror books I've read this year. Note: not all of these books were published this year!
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Best of 2019:
"The Shining" by Stephen King
This, in my opinion, is the best book written by Stephen King ever! In his most well-known horror story, 'The Shining,' which is either a ghost story or the collapse of a man's mental state, Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who just lost his job teaching at a school, gets hired to be the Winter caretaker of the infamous Overlook Hotel. In this book, the readers follow Jack into a nervous breakdown, as well as his possession by the ghosts of this hotel.
I was excited to read this book because Hannibal Lecter is one of my favorite fictional horror characters. We get to follow Special Agent Clarice Starling through her troubles in the FBI,Hannibal Lecter's life while on the lamb (yes,that was intentional),one Italian detective's need for retribution,and a family's empire thirsty for revenge all inside of Harris' well-written 'Hannibal.' This book was much better than 'Silence of the Lambs,' but I think 'Red Dragon' will always be my favorite out of the series (I will be rereading 'Red Dragon' for the blog soon).
To read 'the Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein,' you don't have to know anything about Mary Shelley's original creation. No, this book seems to take the story of Dr. Frankenstein in a completely different direction than what was known 200 years ago. Victor Frankenstein is the most interesting character I have read about in a long time. This is the perfect book for anyone who loved Shelley's 'Frankenstein.'
The book wasn't scary and lacked in a lot of the paranormal elements, but the characters were really well written enough that they made up for the lack of horror. In 'The Haunting of Hill House,' Jackson mostly focuses on the character Eleanor - a woman who recently lost the sickly mother she had taken care of for years, to receiving an invitation for a paranormal experiment at the infamous Hill House. Eleanor also seems to be the main character affected by the house, not only having her name written on a wall, but also having her named called out by spirits during an automatic writing session with them.
In the horror genre, I have very few favorite female writers, but Mary Shelley is one of them. The way she weaves environments with character defining scenes is beautifully done in 'Frankenstein.' At the tender age of 18, Shelley was able to convey grief and loss through a single story. She created a relatable 'creature' that many readers will have pity for, but also an obsessive young man that can hardly be hated. Some people may be intimidated by the more diverse English language from the early 1800's, but, in my opinion, the story would not have had the same impact if it had been written today. This is a must-read book for someone who loves the horror genre.
Everyone has been afraid, sometime. Everyone has felt fear close a cold hand around the heart, tug at the scalp and send the blood racing wildly. Everyone has been afraid. But none so afraid as the terror-stricken men and women of Milburn. Called by a supernatural force to answer for a supernatural sin. Sentenced in the evil heart of darkness to live out a ... Ghost Story. This book does not lack on the paranormal element, so if you love ghost stories, this one is a perfect read for you.
The first and only book series made from Kirkman's 'the Walking Dead' follows the villain known as the Governor. If you have watched or read the comics, you know how his story ends, but it wasn't until this series was written that fans found out how he came to be. I recommend this to all Walking Dead fans. I will be reading the rest of three part series in the near future.
The first novel adapted from the Netflix series hit 'Stranger Things' is an astonishing work of art. Viewers of the show may be familiar with Eleven's mother, Terry Ives, which this book surrounds. Along for the ride are a few important characters that weren't mentioned in the series: Alice, Gloria and Ken - a self proclaimed psychic - all of which meet because they signed up for a human experiment at Hawkins National Laboratory, where each are given doses of LSD every week. This quickly tells readers that the book is not recommended for anyone under the age of 14.
'Old Bones' follows two women, Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson, with a small segment following a man named Clive Benton, all of who end up being intertwined within this one novel. The entire story revolves around the dark history of the cannibalistic Donner Party, while bringing in fictitious elements to give the readers a well-rounded adventure. If you love history and adventure, this would be the right book for you.
Neil Gaiman knows how to turn an innocent childhood into a terror-filled one. 'The Graveyard Book' revolves around a young boy named Nobody Owens. What makes him different from everyone else is that he lives in a graveyard where he's being raised by the ghostly residents. Nobody, or Bod (as his friends call him), ended up here after his family was brutally murdered, which actually doesn't seem to bother him too much throughout the story. Right from the beginning, readers get to follow the murderer as he makes his way through Bod's house, killing all the members of the family except for Bod, who fortunately manages to get away. This book is almost flawless, I absolutely love how Gaiman writes.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food- - -and each other. This story is dark, beautiful and heart wrenching. You won't forget this one very easily.
No one ever leaves Copper Hollow. It's a town with a deadly history...but nobody ever talks about it. Kimberly thinks there might be something strange going on. She's not sure what- - -until a menacing doll appears with two words written across its clothes: BURY ME. Anyone who loves R.L. Stine's 'Goosebumps' would love this. And I actually believe that Alexander may be the next R.L. Stine!
Worst of 2019:
Whenever you move to a small town, there is always a hidden secret. When one of those secrets is children going missing, it makes for a great horror story. But 'the Collector' makes for an okay one,with most of its twist and turns being highly predictable. Lack of character development and lifeless writing made me not care too much for this book.
This book seems to have been written by a skeptic that disguised it as a book from a believer in the paranormal, which to say is a pretty clever way to sell a book when the belief in the paranormal is at an all time high. The author spends much of the book detailing people who have exhibited paranormal abilities just to quickly tear them down. I will say that Brian Haughton did a wonderful job on researching for this book, bringing up not only the history of paranormal abilities, but also self proclaimed psychics that readers may not have even heard of, such as Florence Cook, who had her abilities tested by none other than William Crookes( the discoverer of the element thallium).
'Heart-Shaped Box' does a successful job of not only painting a picture of ghosts, but also of the spirits that reside in animals (like a witch's familiar), but the likable characters in this book are few and far between. Judas Coyne treats women as objects(he literally only calls them by the State name they are from,such as Florida), and also ended his own marriage by refusing to throw away a snuff film he had obtained from a police. When the story begins, Coyne is shacked up with a young woman (nearly 30 years younger) he calls Georgia; she is described as a stereo-typical goth: black hair, black nail polish, pale white skin. This description of the women Coyne has been with seem to be about the same, but maybe a different hair color, but any other woman that is ever mentioned in the book is either very old or very overweight. This was a book that was hard to read, not from a writing perspective, but from a story telling perspective.
'The Haunting' just didn't add up for me. It seems the story was written too hastily that beginning writer mistakes were made and overlooked, but most young adult readers may be able to look past this. Like Stephen King, Vega has great story-telling power in the horror genre, but in 'The Haunting,' I don't feel she was fully able to display this because the focus on Hendricks' life drama took over most of it. If I were to recommend this to anyone, I would only recommend it to people who like teenaged drama mixed in with a ghost story.
It was in 2014 when the video game Five Nights at Freddy's debuted, and now it's one of the most well known horror games in the world. Homicidal animatronics, a nighttime security guard, and a children's pizza restaurant make up Scott Cawthon's world in FNAF. Fast forward to 2016: Cawthon makes the game's story into a book series. The lore surrounding the video game franchise seems to be more sought after than the game play itself. ' The Silver Eyes' is the first of three books telling the dark story from Cawthon, but from the eyes of the animatronics creator's daughter, Charlie, instead of the night guard at Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria. The story is great, but the writing is beyond horrible - - - it's written like a fan fiction, no editing at all.
'Beautiful Creatures,' is a witchy novel series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, that brings the family of witches (among other supernatural creatures) to life: focusing on the niece, Lena, who just came to town to live with her shut-in uncle, Macon. Readers soon find out that Lena belongs to one of the oldest families in the Southern town of Gatlin. I actually loved this story (I'm a sucker for any stories with witches and witchcraft), but the writing was so bad, it made it really hard to read.
At around 95 novels, Stephen King, who is one of the most well-known authors of our time, debuts a possible new novel series about psychic children. 'The Institute' mostly takes place in a hidden facility located in a wooded area of Maine,where readers follow a kidnapped child prodigy named Luke Ellis, and the government experiments that are inflicted on him to heighten his psychic powers. I was surprised that I didn't really like this book because I normally like King's books, but this didn't read like a King book to me at all. Sexualizing children and not written concisely, I would never reread this.
Drowning is one of the top fears in the world, and it's also one of the top ways to cover up a murder. In Lie to Me, Ward's fourth YA novel, she uses drowning as the basis of the story. Yet, this book fell very short in the thriller/mystery genre: Ward gives away too many hints at the beginning of the book, that most readers will have the murderer figured out by chapter 7; she also focuses too much on romance, something that should have caused this story to be filed under a different category other than mystery/thriller. But luckily she didn't bring in a wide circle of characters to cause confusion, using only one view point from the main character of Lie to Me: Amelia- - - a teen girl who believes she was pushed down a ravine to be left for dead in the raging water below. This is not for horror fans.