So, this year, for the first time in a few years, I have been reading horror fairly consistently. I say to myself - RIP challenge - and then start reading the book.
Currently on the pile to be read I have:
Manitou Blood by Graham Masterton (his version of vampires, I haven't seen this before. The Manitou by him was one of the scariest books I read, a few years ago)
The Best Horror of the Year Vol 1 - ed Ellen Datlow (it comes highly recommended, replaces the horror part of Year's Best Horror and Fantasy collection she did with Terri Windling. I just bought it this week, and not sure I can wait for RIP!)
Swan Song - Robert McCammon (reread from 20 years ago) - very excited to reread this again.
Darkness - Two Decades of Modern Horror - ed Ellen Datlow - another collection, this time of her collection of the best horror short stories published between 1984 and 2005
Under the Dome - Stephen King - Uncle Steve! horror! big book to get lost in!
Drood - Dan Simmons - Dickens, madness, and terror. Yum.
A Dark Matter - Peter Straub - a magic ritual goes wrong, and twenty years later someone tries to find out what really happened. Another yum.
Hell House - Richard Matheson - I've seen the movie several times (The Legend of Hell House) but never read the book. I decided it was time to right this wrong. I know it will scare me, as the movie scares me (most delightfully and shiveringly). How long until RIP starts???
Out of the library I currently have:
Haunted - James Herbert - a reread, it turns out, but again it's been at least 15 years since I read it
The Ghost Writer - John Harwood (based on Daphne's review a few years ago)
I have read this year:
The Unseen - Alexandra Sokoloff (review here)
The Red Tree - Caitlin R Kiernan - This is a chilling haunted house read. Actually, haunted tree by a house book. Young woman escapes unhappy romance to hide out in house in the woods.....a house with a terrible history of people disappearing in and around it. This book features a scary relationship with a roommate and downward spiralling of insanity. Very scary in places. Highly recommended.
Handling the Undead - John Ajvide Lindqvist - one of my favourite books this year so far. A book about zombies, but also about the loved ones who try to cope. What would you do if suddenly the dead started to come to life? What if your loved dead ones were stirring? This book is about three recently come back to life people, and the repercussions on their families. It's also about Stockholm, and society, and how they cope with the dead and newly returned. It's also about what makes a person a person, that mysterious living part of us that goes when we die. The worst things about zombies is that they are shells because this mysterious part is not brought back (in any zombie fiction.) But could you resist seeing your loved one, one more time? Just to touch them? Hope that spark is there?
Apartment 16 - Adam Neville - I just finished reading this last week. What a fun horror novel, and so very frightening. A lot of horror fiction relies on the unstability of the narrator. It's as if horror can't come into our sphere until we give it an opening, usually because of madness in some form. I disagree with this. I don't think instability is a precursor to good horror fiction. I think there is horror all around us, and in our natures, and the trick is to make it believable without relying on madness. That said, in Apartment 16, madness is at the center of the horror. An artist long ago created obsessively pictures of the vortex, the swirling darkness that we go to when we die (that he believes anyway). It's a disturbing vortex, filled with the true faces of people, all hideously deformed and distorted - their vices and desires, their lack of spiritual light, becomes their consignment to this swirling hell. What he eventually creates though, is an entrance for that hell, in his apartment - Apt 16. Apryl, the niece of an aunt who turns out to have a connection to the artist, inherits her aunt's apartment in the same building where the artist lived. The book is about how she learns about the artist, and her aunt, and how the power of evil, and that morbid fascination does have its own strength. This was a horrifying picture of madness, gripping, and sad in some ways. Mostly, a book to read with the lights on and someone around to remind you things are normal where you are......I will not forget how mirrors are used in this book, for a long time, either.
The Passage - Justin Cronin (review here)
Button, Button - Richard Matheson (short story collection) - The title is from the first story in this short story collection. It was made into a movie recently called The Button. I didn't see the movie. I did enjoy the short story very much - it is perfect, the story of what happens when a stranger calls and offers money in exchange for a life. Would you push the button? Eerie. Most of the stories are not quite as frightening as this one, which calls up the dark side of human nature, but the collection is enjoyable and nerve-tingling in places.
Horror books I would like to get for RIP:
Koko - Peter Straub
Feed - Mira Grant
The Dark - ed Ellen Datlow
Haunted Legends - ed Ellen Datlow
The Thirteen - Susie Moloney ***Canadian author, wrote The Dwelling a few years ago, a disturbing and very good haunted house book that has scenes that still bother me today. The Thirteen just got published and I'm on the library waiting list, so I might see this next year.....
I'm not sure what has me reading horror this year, though I am enjoying it very much. Apartment 16 is really terrifyng. The Unseen is one of the best haunted house books I've read in a long time. Handling the Undead took the zombie story and turned it upside down. It is haunting and beautiful and exactly what examining horror should be, from all sides - the victims and the zombies, who are also accursed. The Passage is excellent.
I have a few other books ready also for RIP, but I want to save them for a surprise so when I go to do my post in the next few weeks, I will have something to add to the list!
Are you busy getting ready for RIP? What are you thinking of reading? Are there any horror or ghost story books you really recommend for this challenge? Let me know. As you can see, I'm always looking for new and good horror to read.
As we head into fall soon - and already our leaves are starting to change colour here, which is very early for us - I'm thinking about ghost stories and horror, and what I really enjoy about them. Why do I read them? Why do you, dear Reader? Do you like being thrilled? Scared, safely in the comfort of your home? Do you like that eerie frisson of chill running over your skin when you read a particularly scary line or scene? I know that I am always on the lookout for this. It's delightful and shivery at the same time. There is nothing like a good chill.
I also find that horror tales are cautionary. They remind me of what not to do. Don't go into the unknown house alone. If lights keep flickering on and off and you get chills and the sense you are not alone, you're not! Horror also tells me what to do/not to do when I find myself in a scary situation. The edge that horror has though, is that often it's from deep within our subconscious, so we can't control these deeper urges, or we are overtaken by events that we are powerless to do anything but try to survive. The best horror shows us a way out, reminding us that there is a price to pay for going to the edge of the dark, where terror and truth lie. It's also exciting, and a safe way to confront our darkest fears.