Monday, August 5, 2013

My Top ten Horror novels. Coming in at number Two - A post nuclear nightmare...

Number Two 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: Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z.Brite

Number 5: What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

Number 4: The Shining by Stephen King

Number 3: Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker Number 2 is: Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon I am not a huge fan of novels in the 800 to 1,000 page range. Most often novels that long just drag and I have a hard time believing the same story could not be told in 500. Swan Song in paperback clocks in at a thick 956 pages and I never felt like it dragged or that a page was wasted. The first time I read this book I raced through it faster than some books I have read that were half the length.

Many people will complain that Swan Song is a rip-off of Stephen King’s the Stand. That is somewhat valid in the sense that it has similar apocalyptic setting and length. Both stories include a journey across an American wasteland. Both have a huge confrontation at the end between the ultimate good and evil. Ok, OK there is a lot in common, however for my money Swan Song is a far superior novel.

King intended for The Stand to be a modern Tolkien style fantasy set in a post Plague America. I see Swan Song as a more straight forward horror post-apoc novel with a lot less supernatural and fantasy elements. I have read several intense accounts of nuclear war, I have read all the classics(Alas Babylon, On the Beach) and this is the most intense description of a nuclear attack I can think of. The image of the DC Transit bus lifted into the sky and slamming into Air Force One is an unforgettable moment.

{Note: honorable mention to James Herbert’s novel Domain which also had an amazing intense Nuclear attack on London}

This novel is grueling, I have never felt so deeply about the horrors that characters have gone through. A nightmare reading experience, every hundred pages is like another step down into a dark basement. There is a moment about five hundred pages in when I just turned away from the book and shook my head. I knew I could not survive what these poor characters do.

Of all the novels on this list this is the one that I found myself thinking, boy I need to re-read this soon.

Ok another funny story about this novel being on this list here. At bizarro-Con last year author MP Johnson and I were talking about our favorite horror novels and I said Swan Song was my number two. As we kept talking Robert Devereaux (Author of Deadweight and Salughterhouse High) walked up and I asked him “Hey Robert what are your two favorite horror novels?” He said “Ghost Story by Peter Straub and Swan Song by Robert McCammon. Great minds think alike.

They do but I have a different number one, next week the wait is over. However you have read my blog in the past and followed me on facebook it is a good chance you already know…

No comments: