The Top 10 Horror Novels of 2013

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Written by: Matt Molgaard

There have been a number of stellar releases this year. In fact, 2013 has been one of the stronger years for the genre in quite some time. Major players released engrossing works. Relatively unknowns gifted us with true magic. As a fan, I couldn’t have asked for a superior year.

There were a number of finely crafted pieces this year, and while I haven’t been blessed with the time to read each and every one, I’ve covered some startling pieces of work. The following 10 novels are the 10 novels that moved me in a serious way. These are mind bogglingly good reads, and if you’ve missed any, it’s time to change that. Dig on the best horror novels of 2013 below!

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10 American Elsewhere – Robert Jackson Bennett: This is a piece fueled by paranoia and uncertainty. It’s a wonderfully written piece that forces the psyche to juggle an assortment of mind boggling circumstances. Robert Jackson Bennett proves deserving of a place amongst today’s finest authors, and if you’ve ever had doubts, read American Elsewhere to have your mind totally and completely blown.

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09 Under the Ice – Tony Richards: Technically this is a zombie tale… but holy hell is it an amazing take on the subgenre. Richards siphons a plethora of emotions here, and he brings plenty of twists to the tale that will have heads spinning. It’s a glorious piece that handles horror and character examination in equal measure. This is an addictive piece that immediately grabbed my attention and refused to release its grasp. A serious treasure that – I hope – doesn’t go unnoticed by the horror masses. Miss this one and you’re missing something quite special.

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08 The Wolves of Midwinter – Anne Rice: I just want it to be known that I’m not a huge Anne Rice fan. I’ve always found her work to be a bit too erotic, and well… sensitive in a feminine way. Don’t label me a chauvinistic pig, because that simply isn’t the truth. I’ve just never found Rice’s style too appealing. I’ve never been able relate to her work. Until that is, the arrival of The Wolves of Midwinter. This is a terrific tale that pits those vicious flesh-craving creatures against anyone and everyone. Genius piece that’s admittedly convinced me that Rice has a whole lot more to offer.

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07 NOS4A2 – Joe Hill: Confession time: I haven’t yet finished NOS4A2. However, a few hundred pages in and I’m totally hooked. This piece reminds me – in an almost poetic sense – of Hill’s insanely gratifying Locke & Key comic run. And that, my friends, is most definitely not a bad thing. Joe brings something different to the vampire tale here, and not only does he suck viewers right into an unnerving tale, he showcases a measure of originality we don’t often see these days. Kudos, Mr. Hill – this is a job well done!

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06 Deadbeat – Guy Adams: There’s nothing cooler than a pair of aged adventurers who find themselves wrapped up in a multilayered tale of mystery and terror. Adams is a fantastic author, and this novel resonates long after the final page has turned. Deadbeat is gratifying from the jump, and the injection of humor really sets this one apart from most.

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05 Matt Drabble – Asylum: 13 Tales of Terror: Matt Drabble’s collection, Asylum: 13 Tales of Terror was absolutely marvelous. As you might guess the tale takes place in mental facility that houses a plethora of residents with some truly horrifying tales to share. And while they’re all fantastic shorts, the real prize comes in the form of the terrific wraparound tale that brings each story together. I couldn’t put this one down, and whether you’re familiar with Drabble’s work or not, you must track this one down. Thrilling from beginning to end!

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04 Hot in December – Joe R. Lansdale: It’s Travis McGee dropped into the chaotic world manufactured by the legendary Joe R. Lansdale. A heavy dose of wit and a perfectly paced tale, Hot in December offers a look at a family pushed to the brink. It’s kill or be killed in this novella, and the focal characters are compelling enough to keep the novel moving at a staggering pace. When the final page turns, you’re going to be rather pissed off. This is a great enough story to yearn for far more. 100-plus pages just doesn’t do a narrative as engrossing as this the true justice it deserves. Even having said that, this is a stunning effort from Lansdale!

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03 The House that Dripped Gore – Dan West: Dan West is the funniest author in the game today. The fact that he can take that comedy and inject it into a highly rewarding horror piece is brilliant. This one will be recognized as a satirical piece, but it’s written with true perfection, never once letting down the reader. This may be an obscure selection for this list, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the best novels to hit the market this year. Did I mention that it’s so hilarious you’ll be left in stitches?

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02 Alison Littlewood – A Cold Season: A haunting tale reminiscent of the legendary Wicker Man, A Cold Season is a brilliant piece of work that tugs at the heart strings. It’s eerie, outright frightening and totally and completely engaging. Hands down one of the finest novels released stateside in 2013. If you’re a lover of macabre atmosphere and deeply unsettling concepts, this is an absolute must-read.

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01 Joyland – Stephen King: Dare I say it? Sure. This is the return of the Stephen King we’ve all grown to love. Reading much like one of the man’s vintage works, there’s plenty of contemporary relevance in this piece. King showcases his mystery chops, and I’ll be damned if the man’s ability to lure readers into a totally engrossing murder mystery with a dark edge is virtually unrivaled in today’s market. It’s no wonder that this man has been thrilling for four decades, and hasn’t even hinted at slowing down. If you need to be reminded of how masterful this man is, read Joyland.

Honorable Mentions: Doctor Sleep, The Abominable, Red Hill, Come Alive, Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard

About Matt Molgaard (1037 Articles)
Writer for Dread Central, Best Horror Movies and Starburst Magazine. Owner, operator and contributor of Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies. Obviously, hooked on all things horror, for a great number of years now!

15 Comments on The Top 10 Horror Novels of 2013

  1. Man, I am so behind. I haven’t read anyways of these. House That Dripped Gore–great effin title!

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  2. I have to disagree with the number one choice. While I actually dd enjoy Joyland, King’s Doctor Sleep was without question the best new horror novel I read in 2013. That’s the book I would say represents a return to classic King. It’s a literate, intelligent novel that was as moving as it was frightening , illustrating how much King has matured and developed over the decades since he wrote The Shining. This was one of those rare sequels that inexplicably worked even better than I had hoped, earning it’s companionship with the haunted hotel classic.

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  3. Wayne C. Rogers // December 13, 2013 at 12:51 am // Reply

    Matt,

    Boy, I have to to disagree with you on Deadbeat, Hot in December, and The Abominable. Neither of these were horror novels. Though The Abominable was marketed as a horror novel and the title has probably misled quite a few readers, it was really nothing but a long novel about mountain climbing with some nasty Germans thrown into mix during the last hundred pages or so. This was nothing like The Terror. In fact, I’m more disappointed in this novel than I was Drood. Of the novels listed above, I have to say that Doctor Sleep and NOS4A2 were the best of what I read in horror.

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  4. So glad you put Joy Land at the top of the list. I was totally blown away by the book. Goes to show King is still the king.

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  5. Joyland was my favorite 2013 release that I’ve read so far, too. I’m two hundred pages into NOS4A2 (there are some great bits in here so far, but i’m not as high on it as some of his past work. Maybe it gets even better.-probably does). Doctor Seep next on the agenda. I’ll have to take a look at my reading list and see what my other top picks would be.

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  6. Reblogged this on Word Wabbit and commented:
    Don’t know why, but I’m totally craving horror these days. It’s not usually my thing.

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  7. I just read one of Joe Hill’s older works “Horns”. I could hear his father’s talent reverberating in him. (For those who are unaware Joe is Stephen King’s son) The story was dark and smokey and unsettling in the best sense of the horror tradition. I was saving Joyland for later and Wolves for Christmas!

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  8. Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son right?

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  9. Wayne C. Rogers // December 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm // Reply

    Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Owen King is also Steve’s son, though he writes what I would consider to be more dramatic and literary novels. And, there’s Tabitha King, who is the mom of the two boys. She’s also a writer and is working on a new novel. Only their daughter is not in the writing business. She’s a minister. Last, Owen’s wife, Kelly Braffet, is a writer with a new novel out, Save Yourself. Owen had a new novel published last March, Double Feature. Ask a simple question and get a long, drawn out answer.

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  10. You should check out Deadtown Abbey, and other horrow novels from author Sean Hoade http://www.seanhoade.com :)

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  11. Having just read the book yesterday, I also have to add that Terry M.West’s superb new anthology What Price Gory? is at the very top of my list of the best horror fiction of 2013. That collection represents modern horror done up right.

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  12. The Wolves of Midwinter was nearly unreadable. I hate to not finish books so I felt that I had to finish it. I think I skimmed the last 100 pages or so. The characters were overwrought. The plot was predictable. Thank goodness I got it from my library and didn’t waste my own money on it.

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2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Lovely news to end 2013 | Alison Littlewood
  2. 2013: A Year in Review | Horror Novel Reviews

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