What, you thought I would let October, a month intimately associated with horror, go by without looking at new horror book titles? I laugh at your doubt! There are plenty of horror titles being release this month alone to keep your bedside tables well-stocked. Those who are short on time will have no excuse to avoid the scary: There are both novel-length stories and short-fiction collections that will fill in the reading hours during this month of scares. Read on and see!
There are several novel-length stories to help you get your scare on. For example, in J. Lincoln Fenn's Poe, 23-year-old Dimitri Petrov is a writer who can't seem to finish writing his doorstopper zombie novel and thus writes obituaries to make ends meet. Things are looking up, though, when he gets a writing assignment to cover a séance at the supposedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion and meets and falls for a punk-rock drummer named Lisa. But then he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces into the world, putting himself at the center of a deadly mystery in which the town's residents turn up gruesomely murdered, and Lisa could be the next victim.
Even warlocks get old, as evidenced by Christopher Buehlman's The Necromancer's House. The warlock in question is Andrew Ranulf Blankenship, a handsome, witty nonconformist (and recovering alcoholic) with a nice car and a nice house with a massive library. Oh, and he can speak with the dead through film. Andrew is sitting on a treasury of Russian magic stolen from the Soviet Union 30 years ago, but he has since grown complacent and soft. Too bad, since a monster straight out of the pages of Russian folklore is coming for him, and death is coming with her.
The Night Boat by Robert McCammon begins in the era of World War II, when a German U-boat attacks an unsuspecting merchant vessel and then is itself attacked by a pair of Allied sub chasers. Cut to present day and to David Moore, a young man with a tragic and haunted past living on the idyllic Caribbean island of Coquina and making a living salvaging shipwrecks. When he accidentally detonates a long-unexploded depth charge, he uncovers a decades-old submarine that rises to the surface and unleashes unholy hell on the once-peaceful island.
If you like television's The Walking Dead, the zombie television show based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novels, you would do well to check out The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga; but first, check out the first two novels in the trilogy. This latest installment completes the story of The Governor, the self-proclaimed leader of a small town called Woodbury, fortified to protect its still-living residents against the ever-increasing hordes of undead zombies.
More dark psychological thriller than true horror story, Ghosts Know by Ramsey Campbell is about a radio talk-show host named Graham Wilde who invites a self-proclaimed psychic named Frank Jasper onto his show with the specific purpose of exposing him as a charlatan. This not only annoys some of Wilde's listeners, but also Jasper himself. This might explain why Jasper, when he is hired by the desperate family of a missing adolescent girl to help them find her, suggests that Graham Wilde has murdered the child. The novel can easily be classified at times as a dark comedy...but as the mystery unfolds, as reality and fantasy begin to blur, the psychological horror elements come to the fore.
A more direct comic fantasy can be found in Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan Howard, a novel that puts forth the idea that there is a world formed by our dreams, unsurprisingly called Dreamlands. Into this land travels necromancer Johannes Cabal, who is hired by the so-called Fear Institute to lead an expedition into the Dreamlands to hunt and destroy the very source of the world’s fear: Phobic Animus. Will the expedition survive the journey through the land of magic and monsters?
Don't have enough reading time to enjoy a novel? Hey, life can be busy! Perhaps you can fit smaller, bite-sized stories into your reading schedule. If so, try any of these short fiction collections....
John Ajvide Lindqvist is the author of the internationally acclaimed classic Let the Right One In. His latest book, Let the Old Dreams Die, is a collection of short horror fiction whose stories will stay with you long after you put the book down. Bonus: The title story of this collection shows what happened after the events of Let the Right One In.
If zombies are more your speed, check out Dead North: Canadian Zombie Fiction, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This anthology contains 20 short stories set in various Canadian settings. Some of the creepy stories deal with a British Columbian marijuana operation experiencing problems when the dead begin to attack; a lone human chasing undead zombies across an icy, post-apocalyptic landscape; and whales returning from the depths to haunt the southern coast of Labrador.
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream, edited by Hank Davis, is an anthology of science-fiction horror stories, new and classic, from such writers as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Sheckley, James. H. Schmitz, Clark Ashton Smith, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Neal Asher, Sarah A. Hoyt, Tony Daniel and more.
The Monkey's Other Paw: Revived Classic Stories of Dread and the Dead, edited by Luis Ortiz, does pretty much what it says: It brings together an excellent selection of modern writers to re-imagine classic dark tales. Some are sequels, some are prequels, and some are retellings...but all are eerie and spine-tingling. Contributing writers include Carol Emshwiller, Paul di Filippo, Gay Terry, Don Webb, and more leveraging classics by H.P. Lovecraft, Dylan Thomas and more.
Speaking of H.P. Lovecraft, Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth, edited by Stephen Jones, has stories that draw their inspiration from Lovecraft's classic novelette of alien horror, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." But don't be fooled: Each story brings something unique and scary to the table and avoids cliché. This is an anthology that will please longtime Lovecraft fans and introduce him to new audiences.
Stephen Jones is a busy guy around Halloween. He has two more anthologies hitting shelves this month: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24 is the latest installment in the long-running horror anthology series which showcases the best in contemporary horror fiction. Inside you'll find stories by Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Alison Littlewood, Robert Shearman, Steve Ransic Tem, Thana Niveau, Lynda E. Rucker and more. In Psycho-Mania, Jones assembles a batch of stories featuring psychos, schizoids and serial killers—many of them with a supernatural twist. This anthology includes original fiction by Peter Crowther, Richard Christian Matheson, Paul McAuley, Lisa Morton, Robert Shearman, Steve Rasnic Tem and many others.