Now that we’re about halfway through the year, my friend and colleague Jim Mcleod wrote a post the other day on Gingernuts of Horror in which he named his five favorite books of the year so far. I thought that was such a good idea that I decided to steal it and do the same thing over here. Yes, I ripped it off, I’m not ashamed. Just call me Melania. Keep in mind that when I say “Top Five” I mean that they are my five favorites, not definitively the best. That said, I’m positive they are all up there among the best. If you haven’t read them, you should do so soon, like before you die in a horrific accident or the zombie apocalypse…but I digress.
Without further ado, here they are:
While all of these books are excellent and all of them in close competition for first place, there is a clear winner for me. Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels holds the top spot and is likely to do so for the entire year. I’d be astonished if something came along and beat it as it is one of the most incredible werewolf and coming-of-age stories I’ve read ever.
Next up is Paul Tremblay’s brilliant and insidious horror novel, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. Paul owned the year last year with A Head Full of Ghosts, a book that made number one on more best of year lists than I could possibly name here, and I suspect that Disappearance… is going to do the same thing.
Grey Matter Press has been a phenomenon ever since it’s debut anthology, Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror – Volume One was published in December of 2013. Since then they’ve done nothing but prove, time after time, that they’re the real deal, upping their game with every book they publish. Two of those books are on this list, the first being Peel Back The Skin. That book easily qualifies as one of the best horror anthologies I’ve ever read, containing a collection of stories by some of the best authors in the industry today. If you haven’t sampled GMP’s offerings, there is no better place to start that right here.
Weird Fiction is enjoying a pretty exceptional renaissance right now, with some astonishingly talented young authors adding their own touch to an already diverse sub-genre and breathing new life into old tropes. One of those authors is Michael Wehunt. His debut collection, Greener Pastures was a major gut punch to me. I confess that I went into it as a skeptic. I’d never heard of the guy and I’d become somewhat jaded by what was being called weird fiction but was really just Lovecraftian pastiche, a branch of the weird that I detest. Color me surprised when I discovered that not only is Wehunt talented, Greener Pastures is one of the best collections of weird short fiction that I’ve seen in ages.
Finally, I have to call out John C. Foster’s incredible second novel, Mister White, a unique blend of suspense thriller/horror novel like nothing I–or anyone else–has read before. That book scared the fuck out of me, a thing that’s extremely difficult to do, and it has incredible staying power, still popping into my head from time to time even now, months after I read the damn thing. Curse you, John Foster!