Written by: Matt Molgaard
What novels scored big with readers this year? Truth is, that’s a tough question to answer, as we all seem to be looking for something a little different. However, we can definitely let you in on the books that really won us over. The following are the 10 best novels released in 2014, as voted on by myself and a number of our contributors!
10 Sergey Kuznetsov – Butterfly Skin
Verdict: Butterfly Skin reads, at times, like a vintage giallo picture… mixed with a little Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. It’s wonderfully written and about as addictive as I imagine crack being. A stunning story that delivers tons of chills, the novel is about as disturbing as they come. Reviews of the novel seem to be a bit mixed, but lovers of the extreme are going to dig this one quite a bit.
09 Benedict Ashforth – Abbot’s Keep
Verdict: Benedict Ashforth’s creepy ghost story, Abbot’s Keep remains a severely underrated piece of work. It’s quite unsettling, and stands out when compared to other haunted house tales, which is essentially what the story boils down to. At least on the surface, right? Read it, ASAP!
08 Sean Munger – Zombie Rebellion
Verdict: How the hell can we be so hypocritical as to include a zombie novel when we’ve made it clear that we’re not onboard with the zombie movement? To be honest, I can’t really tell you… well, at least not about the story. I haven’t read it. However, a number of our contributors have, and this one earned enough votes to slide comfortably into the top 10 of the year. Perhaps I’ll have to betray my own stubborn insistence on avoiding books centered on the undead, and give this one a go.
07 Hunter Shea – The Montauk Monster
Verdict: It was insanely tough figuring exactly where to rank The Montauk Monster. At the end of the day, perhaps it doesn’t matter. Hunter Shea had a stunning year, and he’s pulling in the kind of recognition he deserves. The Montauk Monster was one of two novels released by Shea in 2014, and while it is a truly crazy story (about killer creatures crafted from different parts of different animals), it’s a major, major charmer that echoes vintage Stephen King. We know you hear that comparison all the time, but in this case, it’s actually true!
06 Eric Red – It Waits Below
Verdict: Aquatic shockers seem few and far between, but in 2014 Eric Red gifted us a beauty with It Waits Below. This one has a little bit of everything, but the claustrophic nature of the tail, and the balls-to-the-wall conclusion help push it into near uncharted territory. Red is a beast!
05 Matthew Gillies – The Electric Coma Dream
Verdict: Matthew Gillies’ The Electric Coma Dream is strange, fantastical and at times, extremely relatable. It could be described as a complex examination of human growth, and it could be described as something entirely darker. Regardless, it was a blast of a read that has yet to turn the heads it deserves to turn.
04 Stephen King – Revival
Verdict: Revival caught a lot of flack from a lot of readers. One of the biggest complaints we’ve come across is the fact that the novel is too tame, and lacks the explosive moments King is known for delivering. We say to hell with those complaints, Revival makes for a rich read with some of the legendary author’s stronger recent character creations. It’s certainly worth your time!
03 John Everson – The Family Tree
Verdict: It didn’t seem likely that Bram Stoker winner John Everson could infuse his patented eroticism in a book titled The Family Tree. He did. He did so wonderfully, in fact. This is a crazy, crazy engaging story that leads readers down an exciting but unexpected path. Awesome characters, awesome conflict, awesome setup, awesome execution. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome, so we say!
02 Joe R. Lansdale – Prisoner 489
Verdict: Unanimously adored by the HNR contributors who read it, Joe Lansdale’s brand new Prisoner 489 is Joe Lansdale at his best. It’s outright horror, unlike a lot of Lansdale’s work, and it’s extremely creepy to boot. Who is Prisoner 489? Is he alive, even after multiple attempts to electrocute his evil tail? And if not, what fate awaits those near his numbered burial site? An absolute masterpiece that, if anything, needed to be longer!
01 Hunter Shea – Hell Hole
Verdict: We told you Hunter Shea had a hell of a year. Some may prefer The Montauk Monster to Hell Hole, but personally, Hell Hole is not only the superior of Shea’s two efforts, it’s also the most engaging and entertaining read of the year. This western themed creature piece is loaded with everything a genre fan could possibly hope for. There’s even a little historical flirtation, as Teddy Roosevelt himself shows up! If that’s not awesome, nothing is!