Written by: Matt Molgaard
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I’ve read some stellar novels over the last year. I’ve read some mediocre novels over the last year. I’ve even read some downright terrible novels over the last year.
The list you’re about to check out has nothing to do with the mediocre works of young authors, or the steaming piles that have made their way into my mailbox. No, this list is about those few special authors that, despite a lack of experience, have emerged as amazing talents.
These are the Top 10 New Horror Authors that you absolutely must check out!
10 Allyson Bird: Allyson Bird’s, Isis Unbound is a really, really far out period piece that manages to juggle some supernatural elements along with some unbridled undead chaos. I don’t think this is typically the kind of story I’d find to be magnetic, but it was just that, and I attribute that to a very, very impressive prose that echoes Bird’s intelligence while maintaining an approachable style. One doesn’t have to be a genius to follow the spins of the book one need only open their mind and welcome a fairly original handling of the zombie subgenre. There’s a lot to this piece, and it’s easy to understand why it picked up a nod at the 2011 Bram Stoker Awards.
09 Brian Moreland: Moreland delivers in a very cut and dried fashion. He’s not out to entangle you in a world of nearly indecipherable prose. In other words, he’s not a pretentious author, and I find that an endearing trait. The man gives good, rewarding fiction to the masses, and he’s capable of dropping readers into distance eras and unexpected locations. He’s also damn adept at bringing menacing evils to life. Both Shadows in the Mist and Dead of Winter are enjoyable, frightening reads that linger after the final page has met conclusion. One of the year’s bigger surprises for me, Brian’s a quality writer who reminds me a bit of an ultra-extreme Gary Paulson!
08 Wendy Potocki: Wendy already has a few novels under her belt, and I can completely understand why she’s opted to continue on such a career path. She’s good. What’s interesting about The Man with the Blue Hat (the only novel I’ve had the pleasure of checking out from Potocki) is the fact I can liken it to a ride on an accelerating freight train. Given my schedule I don’t typically find the chance to plow through books in brief time, but I flew through this one with the urgency of a scrub jay hoping to avoid the oncoming hail storm. The Man with the Blue Hat plays on paranoia, claustrophobia and a strong sense of mystery. It’s a fine read, and sooner (hopefully rather than later) I’ll get around to getting my review written and posted.
07 Justin Robinson: Oh man, what do I say about Justin Robinson? A wicked cool dude who happens to share a lot of the same interests that gain my attention, Justin’s been a good dude to periodically keep in touch with. I like the guy. That said, I don’t play favoritisms, so as much as I like the man, had his recent novel Dollmaker sucked, I would have been forced to shoot him straight. Well, it didn’t suck, in fact it was one of the more unsettling reads I’ve picked up in the last few years and… well, I really enjoyed it. This is one author who can count on me if he’s looking for a review of any of his past or future works. I’m a fan Justin, and I’ve got your back!
06 Ronan Cray: Ronan Cray is a bit like a New York alley man, lurking in the dark around 3 a.m. waiting for a lone passerby to mug. He completely caught me off guard. Cray’s debut novel, Red Sand plays like a tribute to The Lord of the Flies with a hefty nod to Scott Smith’s riveting novel, The Ruins. And holy hell does it work like a charm. The story is very well-crafted, moves at a terrific pace and offers the level of unforgiving chaos that you may associate with a Jack Ketchum novel. I loved this story, and have no problems seeing this one emerge a star in the near future. Keep an eye out for Ronan, as something tells me he’s got more stimulating work to share with the masses.
05 Eric Red: Eric Red is anything but a “new” writer. The man’s been crafting some amazing tales for the big screen for decades. He’s a highly refined author who works a novel with the same tangible shock value that’s offered in his work as a scriptwriter (he penned legendary films The Hitcher, Near Dark and Body Parts to name a few), and his debut novel is the perfect coming of age meets psychopathic horror mash-up. I can’t wait for the next novel!
04 Todd Keisling: Of everyone on this list, sans Seth Grahame-Smith and Jason Pargin, I think Todd Keisling has the goods to ensure career longevity and tell some really freaky stories. His Liminal Man run (set to be a trilogy) has been completely and utterly captivating thus far. A Life Transparent was haunting, and the direct follow-up, The Liminal Man echoes that vibe, with a bit more action and intensity tossed in the mix. They’re two great novels that coexist on some rare perfect plane. Todd is eloquent, intelligent and precise in his actions to tell a straight forward story that demands some thought, but completely avoids any hint of pretentiousness. Watch out for this young man, his future looks bright… or perhaps I should say dull, and gray.
03 Dathan Auerbach: Dathan Auerbach’s, Penpal is one of the biggest sensations to hit the market in the last half-decade. Fans are clamoring for a chance to read this book, and I don’t blame them for a second. It’s smart, fluid, multi-layered and just complex enough to keep your attention affixed to every page. It’s a hard book to put down, and that says a lot. Dathan’s ability to develop tension is almost uncanny, and seeing the success the book has taken on is a serious joy. Penpal is without a doubt one of the 10 best novels I’ve read in the last decade, and amazingly, it only gets better with each revisit. Do yourself a favor and seek this one out as soon as humanly possible.
02 Seth Grahame-Smith: Seth’s not exactly a rookie in this business. The man’s been pumping out stellar fiction that fuses an oft fact-based history lesson. The guy can scare the hell out of you, and teach you a thing or two in the process. His novels, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter are engaging to the fullest. Each ignites a sudden and strange addiction within readers, and that’s a rare feat. The guy is an absolute genius, and I can’t wait to get around to finishing his latest, Unholy Night!
01 Jason Pargin: You probably know the Cracked bigwig as David Wong, as that’s the pseudonym you’ll find printed on the covers of his books, John Dies at the End and This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. These are two absolutely mind blowing novels that push just about every limit imaginable. They’re written in chaotic fashion, and the unorthodox style, and occasional complete disregard for all things technically proper about writing, is truly intoxicating. Pargin clearly has fun writing these novels, and it’s easily detectable as readers just coast through one dimension and life to another, battling outrageous critters and overcoming just about every single implausibility you could think of.
The legendary Don Coscarelli has already transformed John Dies at the End into a terrific film. Here’s hoping This Book is Full of Spiders earns the same treatment sometime down the line!