Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2016 (Volume 2)

Our second TOP TEN list comes from staff writer Nick Cato, who adds, "I only read 37 books this year, which is less than half of my usual annual amount. But out of that batch these were my faves..."





10) CREEPING WAVES by Matthew M. Bartlett: Continuing the same vibe he created in GATEWAYS TO ABOMINATION (2014) and THE WITCH-CULT IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS (2015), Bartlett brings us back to the mysterious town of Leeds, revealing more of it's dark history and mysterious residents. With glimpses into Leeds' personal ads, haunting phone calls, and the sense that nothing is at it seems, CREEPING WAVES is another excellent entry in Bartlett's growing occult series. Well written, scary, and completely absorbing, you'll surely be weary of turning your radio dial down to the lower numbers.



9) THE SEEDS OF NIGHTMARES by Tony Tremblay: Having read a couple of Tremblay's stories in anthologies, I was looking forward to his first collection, and the wait was well worth it. These 13 tales bring the chills in unique ways, and there are several surprises. This here's the real deal: serious horror and noir (with a touch of humor) that will surely win the author some new readers. Kudos to the brief introductions for each story.



8) SUBMERGED by Thomas F. Monteleone: A fast-paced action adventure/thriller with just enough Lovecraftian goodness to give it a horrific edge. While I hate to use a played out term such as "compulsive page-turner," there's really no other way to describe this as the close of each chapter forces you to read on. An all-around great read from one of the best in the business.



7) GORGONAEON by Jordan Krall: Like his FALSE MAGIC KINGDOM series, GORGONAEON is a dazzling, surreal, nightmarish head trip. Characters and events come in and out like a hazy daydream, and as things are eventually uncovered the author delivers some serious chills. Weird fiction just doesn't get any better than this.



6) RETURN OF THE OLD ONES: APOCALYPTIC LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR edited by Brian M. Sammons: I'm as tired of the "Lovecraftian" subgenre as I am of zombies, but editor Sammons has assembled a fantastic collection here, sectioned into three eras (before, during, and after the Old Ones return). One of the finest anthologies of the year regardless of your feeling toward the HPL Mythos trend. A great blend of veteran and newer authors.




5) BLISTER by Jeff Strand: Easily my favorite Strand novel since his 2006 thriller PRESSURE, this quirky creeper dealing with a man on a forced vacation who meets a hideously disfigured girl is as charming as it is bizarre. Wow. First time I ever referred to a horror novel as charming, but, hey...



4) THE SADIST'S BIBLE by Nicole Cushing: After blowing my mind last year with her incredible novel MR. SUICIDE, Cushing's follow up novella is every bit as disturbing, thought provoking, and eerie as you'd expect. Excellent.



3) STRANDED by Bracken Macleod: Arguably the scariest read of the year, MacLeod's arctic chiller brings both THE THING and SURVIVE! to mind yet has plenty of weird tricks up its sleeve. A genuine page turner highlighted by some spectacular prose.



2) A LONG DECEMBER by Richard Chizmar: Question: How many collections of this size (35 tales) can feature so many consistently solid stories? Answer: very few. A fantastic career-spanning door-stopper of a book you'll surely be revisiting.



1) THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS by Jason Arnopp: A perfect blend of horror and humor, paranormal and possession, with guest appearances from real life film directors and footnotes from the protagonist's brother, at times this feels like serious non fiction. Arnopp's novel was the most difficult for me to put down this year. So. Damn. Good.


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