Written by: Matt Molgaard
Since launching HorrorNovelReviews.com less than six months ago, I’ve received more than 25 review requests (for those who haven’t seen your work covered, reviews are in the works, fret not, I’m making sure the bases are covered as quickly as possible), conducted some amazing interviews with some of today’s finest authors, and already managed to ensnare a respectable number of followers and loyal readers.
I’m grateful for all of this. I really, truly am. I’m doing something simply for me, and I’m being repaid tenfold in unique and memorable experiences alone.
I made it known around forums and via social media that I’d be increasing the amount of news and feature articles as time progressed, and lately, I’ve reneged on that promise. So tonight, I return with a feature that should effectively serve to align horror fans with a stack full of new novels to carry them through the years end.
These aren’t simply new or upcoming novels: they’re new works that stand superior to a wealth of the material hitting the market today. These are the books that shouldn’t just be read, they absolutely must be read. These are the special pieces that mimic quicksand, so get ready to visit a local shop or online retailer and withdraw that wallet of yours.
Note: I haven’t actually finished every last page of all of these selections. But I’ve made sure to block off a small handful of hours to read, at the least, (some very) extended excerpts from each novel, so that I might at the very least take away understanding of each tale and an idea of each story’s tone. I’m extremely confident in the picks, and stand behind my recommendations!
The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury: Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga’s follow up to The Rise of the Governor is, after a hundred or so pages, gripping. It’s recognized as a direct sequel to Rise, but as of now, the story centers on Lilly Caul (a character comic book followers may recognize) and her struggles in the vile remains of a once pleasant world.
Kirkman’s style mirrors that delivered in Rise of the Governor, and I love it. No style change, for me, equals a certain sense of continuity and cohesiveness. Although the story isn’t at all what I expected (thus far), it’s been pretty damn enjoyable, no doubt about it.
Besides, who can really get enough of everything The Walking Dead?
Synopsis: “This book will be focusing on Lilly and the path to Woodbury, Georgia, a perfect sanctuary and rural town that is barricaded and walled up to separate the living from the dead. Everything seems perfect in this town as food, shelter, security, and even the town itself expands and grows stronger every day. However, the town leader named Philip Blake keeps the citizens in line and Lilly begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Philip, who has recently begun to call himself The Governor, has disturbing ideas about law and order. Lilly, and a group of rebels band together to fight Philip Blake and open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem and destruction when they challenge The Governor’s reign.”
This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It: Here we have another sequel: that is correct, This Book is Full of Spiders is a follow up to John Dies at the End. Much like John Dies at the End, it’s also outlandishly absurd, and a total blast.
I understand very well that John Dies at the End should probably be considered an acquired taste, and I understand that if that specific taste happens to fill your belly to great gratifying levels, than this book is probably perfectly fit for your consumption.
I still love the insanity of this mind, and I think David Wong is a name I may always keep my eyes peeled for. This is an author that redefines the word fun, and truth be told, it’s almost impossible to not enjoy Spiders.
Get ready for some awesome twists!
Synopsis: “As the sequel opens, we find our heroes, David and John, again embroiled in a series of horrifying yet mind-bogglingly ridiculous events caused primarily by their own gross incompetence. The guys find that books and movies about zombies may have triggered a zombie apocalypse, despite a complete lack of zombies in the world. As they race against the clock to protect humanity from its own paranoia, they must ask themselves, who are the real monsters? Actually, that would be the shape-shifting horrors secretly taking over the world behind the scenes that, in the end, make John and Dave kind of wish it had been zombies after all.
Hilarious, terrifying, engaging and wrenching, This Book Is Full of Spiders, the next thrilling installment, takes us for a wild ride with two slackers from the midwest who really have better things to do with their time than prevent the apocalypse.”
14: I’ll be completely honest, prior to 14, I was completely oblivious to the existence of Peter Clines. Never heard the man’s name, never stumbled upon a novel of his, he was a complete nonfactor in my horror fandom. That’s changed now, as this man has a strikingly wild imagination and a lot of really cool ideas that he brings to life in convincing fashion.
If you’re out to read about creepy, odd buildings with a whole lot of crazy shit you couldn’t see coming with a crystal ball, then 14 is a book you want in your hands, ASAP! I love this man’s style of writing, no two ways about it, and I can honestly say, I’ll be looking into any and all Clines stories I can track down.
Don’t sleep on this author, whether the name rings a bell or not right now. It will after 14.
Synopsis: “Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.
There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment.
Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much.
At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.
Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.
Or the end of everything…”
Blackout: I haven’t read any of Mira Grant’s, Newsflesh Trilogy, and I haven’t been able to get too deep into Blackout, but I absolute adore Grant’s writing style. Intelligent, nearly poetic at times, yet relatable… understandable and certainly embraceable, this is a talent I’m eager to further explore: specifically, the Newsflesh trilogy in its entirety.
A cool blend of conspiracy and advanced zombie fare, Blackout has thus far proven an unapologetic and engaging read. I’m eager to soak this one up in its entirety, and when I do, you’ll see the review surface!
Synopsis: “The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.
The year was 2039. The world didn’t end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.
Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this:
Things can always get worse.
BLACKOUT is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated FEED and the sequel, DEADLINE.”
Red, White and Blood: Another third series installment of an ongoing tale I’ve been completely foreign to, Red, White and Blood is an enjoyable read that all but demands I visit the first two installments of Christopher Farnsworth’s Nathanial Cade series.
Farnsworth explores details and excavates thoughts in a manner only achieved by the upper echelon of today’s fiction writers. In fact, at times, his work reminds me a little bit of Seth Grahame-Smith’s work. The two are anything but carbon copies, but Farnsworth’s political insertions (love the contemporary approach!) definitely feel a bit Grahame-Smithish.
Christopher Farnsworth is a talent that’s evaded my line of attention, but that, changes now. This man is talented.
Synopsis: “The Presidential Campaign Trail, 2012: A political operative and a volunteer are brutally murdered while caught in a compromising position. Written in their blood on the wall of the crime scene: IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK. And with that, a centuries-old horror known only as the Boogeyman returns to taunt Nathaniel Cade, the President’s Vampire. Against the backdrop of the 2012 presidential race, with the threat of constant exposure by the media, Cade and Zach must stop the one monster Cade has never been able to defeat completely. And they must do it before the Boogeyman adds another victim to his long and bloody list: the President of the United States himself.”
Unholy Night: Speaking of Seth Grahame-Smith…
Okay, okay, full confession, I haven’t read a single page of this story yet. However, I grabbed it the first time it caught my eye while browsing the web. Grahame-Smith’s masterful prose and knack for historical revisionism set him apart from any active author today. This is a man that marches to the beat of his own drum, and I respect the hell out of that.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was the surprise of a decade, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was unabashedly addictive and I expect Unholy Night to be everything Abe and Pride were, and more.
Synopsis: “They’re an iconic part of history’s most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.
In Grahame-Smith’s telling, the so-called “Three Wise Men” are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod’s prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod’s men begin to slaughter the first born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.
It’s the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.”