Chad’s Top Picks for 2018
Hands down, top choice for the year. I’ve been a fan of Jones since his novella of years ago, Slaughter Beach. Novellas are a strong medium for horror with their ability to quickly get to the pulsing heart of a story. And this book proves to be no exception. Jones takes a brilliant premise and makes it pretty much as scary as you would expect to find here.
Proof that any concept can be fresh and original, despite the number of iterations it has seen in popular culture. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this as I saw the concept taking shape but I was pleasantly surprised to find a gripping story and an emotional examination of a family under a great deal of stress.
THE CHILDREN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GARDDEN
From the mind of What Good Girls Do, I was incredibly impressed with this offering from Jonathon Butcher. Ensemble stories are hard to pull off in a book, where as a movie has the visual advantage of all the actors filling those roles. The author has little more than the imagination of the reader and Butcher puts on a master class in the way he structures and layers this narrative. The entire thing careens down to an epic finale that is brutal and captivating.
THE SHEPHERD OF THE BLACK SHEEP
Deep, complex characters mixed with a plot that reminded me a lot of Scott Smith just in terms of seeing a situation that somehow manages to spiral down to an even lower depth than it had been before. Besides the obvious external pressures going on throughout this tale, there is also a rich amount of internal conflict as you see this man trying to deal with the stress of raising a young girl as a parent figure. It’s deep and moves along at a brilliant pace.
I normally reserve these lists for the small press and independent authors who really need the spotlight but this book was a pleasant surprise for me, especially in the shadow of my relatively large disappointment with Sleeping Beauties. King returns to fine form with a story that kicks off in brutal fashion, taking hold of your attention and doesn’t let go until the very end. It’s a fantastic concept of having to reconcile as the reader the notion that a person can be both clearly guilty of a crime and at the same time completely innocent.
A brilliant novella from an author who seems to have mastered that mode of the craft. It’s a story set upon a cosmic landscape but managed to steer things down into a satisfying and gripping finale. Rich manages to hit all the bleak and emotional notes in his stories and this is no exception
THE LAST HELLFIGHTER
I’m not generally a huge fan of books that take tried concepts and re-do them in some crazy new concept. But what Flowers has done here, I wouldn’t classify as a ‘reboot” of Bram Stoker. What I see is him telling a clever vampire story, littered with references that only serve to highlight his passion for this particular subset of the genre. His story spans across decades and despite its longer length manages to pull of an exciting pace.
STORIES OF THE DEAD
I’m being somewhat naughty here as this book contains a story of mine. But as I don’t stand to profit from the sales of the book, I feel okay with making this recommendation. If you love Romero, you need to check out this book. Some stories are original and some take place around the events of his movies. Every story in this book is great and in my humble opinion, a must-have for any fan.