Monday, July 8, 2013

My Top Ten Horror novels: #6 A serial killer novel that makes Seven look like disney!

My #6 top horror novel is:

I enjoy doing top ten lists and I have meant to do this one for awhile. The art of the horror novel is a very special one for me. My first horror novel that I remember reading was The Stand by Stephen King, it was my seventh grade year(I still have that copy which has note in the inside cover to do a Social Studies report!). Skeleton Crew by King and Clive Barker's Books of Blood had a bigger impact on me personally were talking novels at the moment. Over the years I have grown to love the feeling of closing the book on a well written horror novel.

Generally you have been taken on a journey, often it is one filled with terror. The most important elements often come from well defined characters. For a horror novel to work to have to either care about the characters or imagine yourself in the shoes of the character. No story can be scary if you can't imagine yourself in the moment with the characters.

Imagine for a moment you lying in bed at 2 AM and someone starts to bang on the door. You will likely go to the door confused and sacred. In a novel that might not seem to be a scary moment but if you put yourself in the moment it will scare you. These are novels I find scary, and why. You may have read them already, and if not I hope you'll check them out. Leave a comment tell me what you think I missed.

David Agranoff is the author of two published novels the Wuxia Pan style horror fantasy crossover "Hunting The Moon Tribe," and the satire "The Vegan Revolution With Zombies. He is also the author of the Wonderland award short story collection "Screams From a Dying World." His next novel Bootboys of the Wolf-Reich is due to be released soon by Deadite press.

Number 10: (tie) Testament by David Morrell & The Girl next Door by Jack Ketchum

Number 9: A Perfect Union by Cody Goodfellow

Number 8: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

Number 7 The Keep (Adversary cycle #1) by F.Paul Wilson

Number 6 is: Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z.Brite

EC could have easily been higher on my list. This is a fantastic horror novel that transcends the serial killer sub-genre and creates one of the creepiest reading experiences I have ever had. It is a novel that works on multiple reads as well. Written by the very goth word smith Poppy Z.Brite. Brite made a spalsh on the horror scene with a strong collection Wormwood and a very punk feeling vampire debut Lost Souls. Brite followed up the strong debut with a fantastic haunted house novel Drawing Blood which was one of the most romantic and heart breaking horror novels. (Just happens to be about gay characters).

Brite was quickly establishing herself as a master of the horror novel when her third novel Exquisite Corpse hit like a ton of bricks. The saddest part in horror terms this was Brite's horror swan song. After this she published a few character driven novels set in the New Orleans restaurant scene.

EC is a serial killer novel but not corny in James Patterson sense, and not bloated in a Thomas Harris way. The story of killer Andrew Compton who escapes from prison in a fantastic prologue really sets off this novel strong. He admires the work of transgressive artist Jay Byrne. The two men entered a demented romance that includes sex, murder and many gore drenched moments that had me cringing constantly as I read. The two killers stalk the artist underground and turn their attention to Tran a young Vietnamese-American DJ who they find too exquisite to resist.

Tran is a fully realized character who readers grow to like quickly, that sympathy essential to a horror novel character in jeopardy comes from his family. Watching Tran deal with family and their attacks on his sexuality and life style are heartbreaking and well written. All three of Brite's novels have well realized romances between gay men, while Drawing Blood probably did this most effectively. Exquisite Corpse on the other hand features a romance between nasty killers in that sense the novel is like tip toeing on a sharp razor edge. This novel just bleeds nasty-ness.

EC is a bit of a time capsule released in 1996 in some ways the book is dated in the sense that AIDS is still the terror-inducing automatic death sentence that it was at the time. It operates on many levels but the suspense is there, the nasty gore is there, and most importantly the strong characters are there. This novel is not for everyone but damn it is good.

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