Summer is upon us once again. Kids are getting out of school, average families are departing or planning to depart on vacation, and some of us poor slobs are stuck with the drudgery of our day to day with no cessation or respite in sight. But odds are, whatever your situation, if you’re reading this blog, you’re an avid reader and you’re going to need some quality material to get you through the season. So let me help you out with that. Here are five of the best books I’ve read in 2017 so far, perfectly written gems from some of our brightest stars. It’s a guarantee that some, if not all, of these books will end up on my favorite reads of 2017 list and if you’re looking for the best that speculative genre fiction has to offer, here’s a good little primer for you.
Black Mad Wheel – Josh Malerman
What to tell you about this one. I guess the same thing I said on Facebook the other day is appropriate enough: 300 pages of divine madness packed with the kind of twisted mind-fuckery that has become Josh Malerman’s stock in trade. He stormed onto the horror scene with the insanely popular breakout novel, Bird Box, and now he’s showing us with Black Mad Wheel that it was no fluke. He really is just that fucking good. Josh has climbed to the apex of my favorite authors list and it’s going to take a monster of an author to ever replace him.
Exorcist Falls – Jonathan Janz
This is Janz’s masterful followup to his stellar novella, Exorcist Road (included in this one). Since the advent of William Peter Blatty’s genre defining novel, The Exorcist, few authors have had the audacity to take on this theme, and those who have had little to no success, being held up to a benchmark that’s virtually impossible to surpass. And I’m not going to go so far as to say Exorcist Falls surpasses it, but I will say it’s the best one I’ve read in terms of originality and sheer storytelling prowess. Janz is never anything less than outstanding and this book is, so far, one of my top two of 2017.
Aletheia – J.S. Breukelaar
This is another new discovery of mine and a sublime one at that. My friend Gabino Iglesias directed her to me when she was looking for reviewers and as soon as I see him I’m going to plant a firm, wet kiss firmly on his lips. Or maybe just on his forehead. Anyhow, the point is, I love him for it. Aletheia falls easily in my top three favorite reads so far this year and it’s another one that is guaranteed to land on my best of 2017 list, and probably on many others as well. I’ll purchase and read anything Breukelaar writes sight unseen and I highly recommend that you do the same.
Behold the Void – Philip Fracassi
I first read Philip Fracassi’s work last year when he presented me with a copy of the novelette, Altar, a book that made an instant fan of me. Since then, I’ve searched out and loved every single book and story he’s written and I couldn’t be happier with a new-to-me author than I am with Fracassi. And I’m especially glad of that now that I’ve read this new collection from him. Behold the Void gathers together a mixture of novellas and short stories, including the aforementioned Altar and his novella, Mother, and every single entry is solid gold. If you’re looking to lose yourself on a lazy summer day, you can’t do better than this.
Bones are Made to be Broken – Paul Michael Anderson
This is another new-to-me author and one that I’ll turn to again and again when I’m looking for rock solid, literary horror. Anderson has a unique mind and an authorial voice to match. Every story in this book is a gem and you’d be doing yourself a huge favor if you rush out to your local or virtual bookstore and buy this thing. Paul is a captivating and entertaining author, easy to lose yourself in and difficult to turn away from once you start reading his stories. When you’re putting together your summer reading list, remember that it isn’t complete without this one.
That’s just a start, and it barely scrapes the surface of all the fantastic books I’ve read so far this year but it is, to my way of thinking a damn good start to anyone’s Summer reading list and I highly recommend them to any fan of outstanding dark fiction.
So, what’s on your list?