Thanks to all the writers, readers, publishers and reviewers who’ve kept horror thriving in 2014. Thinking back over the year, here are the stories that stuck with me.
Top of the pile was “No One Gets Out Alive” by Adam Neville. A bleak haunted house story, it concerns a woman trapped in her grubby lodgings by a vicious landlord and other forces beyond his control. Deeply psychological and harrowing, it’s an unforgettable study of cruelty that has plenty of surprises up its sleeve and drags you right to hell and back with it.
I love an apocalyptic thriller and “The End” by Gary McMahon stands above the many others. Following a small group of survivors after the outbreak of a suicide plague, this is an exciting, intense and poignant book from a writer at his sobering best. As in Mr Nevill’s novel, humanity’s darkness is laid bare to the bone and it’s difficult to switch off once you’ve finished.
I’d hardly read any Jasper Bark before, and was absolutely delighted when I tucked into his collection “Stuck On You & Other Prime Cuts”. A real mixed bag of the brooding and the gleefully appalling, it contains two of my favourite stories of the year, “Stuck On You” and “Taking The Piss”. This is superb storytelling on every level, combining ugly violence with black humour to a level that made me feel ashamed for liking it so much.
I love a novella length story, especially in horror, and it’s been a good year for those. But these 3 still linger.
You can’t beat reading a novella in one sitting, especially when it doesn’t give you any choice, and that’s exactly what happens with Mark West’s “Drive”. Heavy with threat, this is a genuinely scary journey of urban terror that follows a young couple in their car being pursued by some hoodies across the city. A true edge-of-your-seat cinematic experience that doesn’t let you pause for breath.
A particularly pleasant discovery was “The Black Land” by M.J. Wesolowski. A modern ghost tale written in a somewhat classical style, it concerns a baleful coastal castle and the family menaced by the Viking slayers that haunt it. It makes this list for the insidious, malevolent atmosphere that enveloped me while reading it, and still delivers a subtle chill when I think about it now.
I also couldn’t forget “Water For Drowning” by Ray Cluley. A tragic tale of longing, it’s narrated by a brash minor rock star who falls for a groupie who’s dangerously obsessed with mermaids. I was absorbed into their journey of warmth and sadness.
Finally, as a huge fan of our toothsome, acid-blooded pals, special mention goes to the new Alien novels from Titan Books (“Out of the Shadows” by Tim Lebbon, “Sea of Sorrows” by James A Moore and “River of Pain” by Christopher Golden). It’s been too long since the mythos saw some satisfying spin-offs, and this muscular and well-written trilogy brings plenty of fan-pleasing familiarity along with fresh ideas.
Hope you all had a good new year, and keep reading the ghastly stuff in 2015.