From supernatural serial killers to gruesome, chilling murders, these 2014 mysteries have just a dash of horror—perfect for getting thriller fans into the Halloween spirit.
"If ever a book were tailor-made for a David Fincher movie adaptation (Se7en, Zodiac, etc.), it’s Lauren Beukes’ latest dark, genre-bending mystery. On a cool November night in Detroit, Detective Gabriella Versado comes across the strangest crime scene of her career: a dead 11-year-old boy whose lower half has been replaced by that of a deer. Their bodies have been fused together into a macabre human-animal hybrid straight out of “True Detective” or NBC’s “Hannibal,” and Versado believes the killer will strike again."
"In his first novel, The String Diaries, British author Stephen Lloyd Jones has created both an innovative storyline and a new creature to fear. . . . The String Diaries is a phenomenal read, offering readers a refreshing villain and a thrilling narrative laced with the Gothic: a woman being chased by a tyrannical male of supernatural ability in uninhabited places. Jones dazzles in his ability to make his characters' raw nerves so palpable, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end."
"The Butcher opens with a bombshell revelation, and more and more hits soon follow. Seattle police chief Edward Shank made his reputation when he shot and killed the notorious serial killer known as the “Beacon Hill Butcher.” Shank, now retired, gives his big house to grandson Matt, who finds a box on the property that leads him to suspect his grandfather was involved in the crimes. . . . Author Jennifer Hillier (Creep, Freak) balances a grisly story with a tasty subplot involving Matt’s meteoric rise from restaurateur to celebrity chef, a burst of star power he can’t afford to tarnish with the revelation that . . . well, you'll have to read for yourself."
"Mo Hayder set the hook in me with The Devil of Nanking and then reeled me in with Hanging Hill; now she is back with the home invasion novel to end all home invasion novels, Wolf. . . . Hayder neatly splits genres with this series, borrowing in equal measure from suspense and horror, not unlike John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels or T. Jefferson Parker’s Charlie Hood books. Wolf is exceptionally original in premise and nightmarish in its rendering."
"Five hundred years ago, a young Norwegian monk took a walk on the dark side, feeding an unholy obsession with death, culminating in his creation of “The Book of John,” a text bound in human skin. This sort of thing is an aberration that appears only sporadically over the centuries. So imagine the shockwave in present-day Trondheim, Norway, when the curator of the museum holding the Book of John is brutally murdered, her skin flayed from her body. Double-down on the shock effect when the cops find that the curator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia has met much the same fate."
"Mayhem is a disturbingly engrossing Victorian horror with a standout, menacing villain. Never have I known a smile to be so sinister and rancid, but Pinborough’s prose proves the gesture to be something terrifyingly palpable. This genre-defying novel is a ravenous read and will have you as insatiable as the malicious mischief-maker that awaits you in its pages."
Josh Malerman infuses his apocalyptic tale, Bird Box, with an element of the "thrilling dread of yesteryear;" the menacing "monster" in his tale is never fully revealed to the reader.
Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Malorie, her present and more recent past unfold, and we discover just why her two four-year-old children—Boy and Girl—have never been outside of their own home. There's something roaming the world, and it drives whoever sees it violently and irreparably mad, even with a single glimpse.
Malerman's creation of a menace that can never be fully perceived—by his characters or his readers—makes this a blood-curdling and incredibly thrilling read unlike anything in recent memory.
If you're feeling brave, then watch the spooky trailer below:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in picking up a copy of Bird Box?
Good news, Stephen King fans: There'll be double the thrills from the best-selling author this year. We've already told you about Mr. Mercedes, the noir detective story scheduled for June 3—yesterday, the author announced that 2014 would also bring Revival, the story of a charismatic preacher who takes a small New England town by storm in the mid-20th century. Reverend Jacobs creates a special bond with Jamie Morton, a young boy who shares the pastor's "secret obsession." Here's more from King's site:
When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
Sounds appropriately ominous to me. Look for the book on November 11.
With Halloween lurking just around the shadowed bend, we conjured up a list of 13 of 2013's most fright-inducing reads to get you in the spirit. Haunted houses, werewolves, vampires and serial killers—this list has got them all, and more!
THE SHINING GIRLS
By Lauren Beukes
South African novelist Lauren Beukes returns with The Shining Girls, a creepy, supernatural thriller set in Chicago, where a dilapidated House (yes, capital “H”) containing a mysterious portal sends the book’s villain back and forth through time. Throughout the 20th century, he dispatches a series of women in brutal fashion, removing a small item from one victim here, depositing it with another there, then materializing back at the House to review his exploits. (Read the full review.)
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Stroke by stroke, scare by scare, [Boyne's] latest novel deliberately sets out to beat Henry James at the diabolical game he played in the best ghost story of all time, The Turn of the Screw. Boyne’s mimicry and mischievous corruption of both the form and the content of James’s tale are surely the book’s most uncanny elements. All the Jamesian paraphernalia is there: the clueless governess at the remote country estate who narrates the story; her predecessors who meet violent ends; the nervous bystanders who infuriate both the heroine and the reader with their stupendous reserve. (Read the full review.)
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John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books push the limits of the whodunit genre. They read like detective novels, but then they step over the line into Stephen King country, where apparitions dance at the periphery of the senses and where evil becomes palpable—and ever so believable. Connolly’s latest, The Wrath of Angels, finds the intrepid P.I. sitting in a bar, listening to a strange tale about a private airplane that went down in the dense woods of northern Maine. (Read the full review.)
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Never before has Gaiman’s fiction felt this personal, this vibrant or this deeply intimate. Gaiman’s hero is an unnamed narrator who returns to his childhood home as an adult and is flooded with memories of a farm at the end of the English country lane where he grew up. We relive those boyhood memories as he does, beginning with an odd tragedy that brought him to the doorstep of the Hempstock family. There he met 11-year-old Lettie, her mother and her ancient grandmother, who claims she was around when the moon was first made. (Read the full review.)
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Joe Hill says it took him quite a while to find the spark that would make his riveting new horror novel roar to life. Though he ended up writing the bulk of NOS4A2 in about seven months, getting the book started wasn’t easy. “I struggled with figuring out how I wanted to write a female lead,” Hill says. . . . The novel’s main character, Victoria McQueen, is a tough, wild thing with an unusual talent. When we meet her as a young girl, Vic has just discovered that sometimes, much to her surprise, her beloved Raleigh bicycle takes her to a covered bridge that shouldn’t exist. (Read the full interview with Hill.)
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Hill's allure—whether in these two novellas or in her famous 1987 novel, The Woman in Black, adapted for the London stage in 1989 and playing there ever since—springs from the serene decorum of her prose, which remains mellifluous even at the most catastrophic turn of events. This set of novellas provides another “safe haven” for those fans who prefer to take their horror with a smooth pint of bitter. (Read the full review.)
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In an author’s note at the end of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King explains how the idea of writing a sequel to The Shining—his third novel, published in 1977—was planted by a fan at a book signing back in 1998. King mulled it over for more than 10 years before sitting down to figure out how 5-year-old Danny Torrance fared after his narrow escape from the horrifyingly haunted Overlook Hotel. As one might suspect, Danny didn’t fare very well. (Read the full review.)
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The perilous pleasures and imperiled children that await you in John Lindqvist’s magnificent collection of stories, Let the Old Dreams Die, require constant illumination. The darkness of this writer’s imagination is profound, the terrors manifold and the writing merciless in its reckoning of every human being’s worst fears, groundless hopes and bizarre capacity to love against all mortal odds. It would be tempting to call Lindqvist a philosopher, so relentless are the questions his characters ask about the meaning and the meaninglessness of our existence. (Read the full review.)
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“All love is desperate.” With this phrase, celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates manifests love gone wrong in Evil Eye, four novellas ringing with Gothic horror. Taking a page from du Maurier’s Rebecca, Oates puppeteers her childlike heroines through scenes of despondency set in the twisted, delusional reality that can be love, with the backdrop of oppressive circumstances and possessive men with gnarled secrets. (Read the full review.)
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When you talk of talented writers under 40, Benjamin Percy is a name that must come up. His second novel is Red Moon, a fat, multilayered page-turner that has fans of Percy and lycanthropy alike gnashing their teeth in anticipation. Yes, it’s about werewolves, but it is also about coming of age, young love, racism, xenophobia, warfare’s moral complexities and the zeitgeist of 21st-century America. (Read the full review.)
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Scott McGrath is the novel’s central character. Once a prominent investigative journalist, his career has very publicly crashed and burned after he made outrageous accusations and a not-so-veiled threat against the elusive cult filmmaker Stanislas Cordova. When McGrath learns that Cordova’s 24-year-old daughter Ashley has been found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. McGrath sets out to solve the mystery of Ashley’s death, but ends up on a risky and very different sort of journey in pursuit of an entirely different magnitude of truth. (Read the full review.)
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By Andrew Pyper
David Ullman is a prestigious professor specializing in biblical literature and tales of demons, and one of the world’s foremost experts on John Milton’s epic poem of heaven and hell, Paradise Lost. Though religious literature is his specialty, David doesn’t believe a word of it. His interest is unshakably academic, until a woman visits his office with a strange proposition. Just days later, tragedy strikes, and David finds himself battling dark forces and a ticking clock in a desperate effort to get his daughter Tess back. (Read the full review.)
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THE NEVER LIST
By Koethi Zan
Sarah and Jennifer believed that to be informed was to be prepared, so they became versed in all of the statistics of threatening situations and created a list of things to never do. They strictly followed the list until one night in college when they got in a car with a stranger—a devastating choice that led to five years of unspeakable torture, as Sarah and Jennifer were held captive with two other girls in an unforgiving cellar. (Read the full review.)
Middle-aged death-metal rock star Jude Coyne doesn't know what he's in for when he buys a Floridian ghost from an online auction site to add to his collection of ghoulish curiosities, which includes a 16th-century skull and a snuff film that effectively ended his marriage. The ghost arrives in the form of a black suit folded into a black heart-shaped box, but it doesn't stay there. As soon as the suit emerges from the box, Jude's life is invaded by Craddock, a dead man with a deadly plan. And in facing this very real ghost in the present, Jude is forced to face many ghosts from his past, including his terrifyingly abusive father, a girlfriend who died tragically and his fallen band mates.
Read the full review from our February 2007 issue here.
Poppet by Mo Hayder
Atlantic Monthly • $25 • ISBN 9780802121073
published May 14, 2013
Is there any creepier setting than a mental institution? Combine that tried-and-true horror milieu with the talent of an author who can make the brightly lit streets of Tokyo feel sinister, and it's almost an unfair advantage. But that's what we get with Mo Hayder's sixth Jack Caffery thriller, Poppet.
The Beechway Psychiatric unit in Bristol, England, was built as a workhouse in the mid-1800s. After a significant remodel in the 1980s, it is now as pleasant and bright as a high-security residence for the insane can possibly be. At least, until a rumored relic from its Victorian past begins stalking the hallways, preying on the minds and bodies of the residents. Is "The Maude," as the residents refer to the disruptive agent, actually a ghost? Or is it something even more evil—and human?
"Don't make me say what's scary, Mr AJ, or mention that name. I bin told I ain't supposed to say it, so I ain't even going to whisper it and you'll excuse me for that, but though you are my deep and most respectful of friends, I am just going to keep my piehole shut at this moment in time."
[Moses] nods to himself as if to confirm those were the exact words he meant to use. He says nothing more. The doctors spent a long time putting Moses back together, working on his eye implant, but if you know what to look for you can still see his face is misshapen. What actually happened to Moses that night? AJ wonders. They can go on putting The Maude down to hallucinations and fantasy, but something happened that night. And whatever it was was powerful enough to make Moses gouge out his own eye.
What are you reading this week?
Related in BookPage: Mo Hayder's author page.
In Benjamin Percy's Red Moon, the Lycan Republic is under American occupation, and all Lycans are required to suppress their instincts with Lupex, a drug that prevents the werewolf transformation process. The Lycans are our friends and neighbors, but when terrorist attacks occur, the guilty and innocent alike are targeted and rounded up. Claire Forrester is a Lycan on the run after seeing her parents murdered; Patrick Gamble is the sole survivor of a plane attack. The once peaceful coexistence is no more and with only weeks until the next full moon, no one knows what is waiting on the other side.
Bringing werewolves back into horror, Benjamin Percy has written a literary thriller with a complex world. More than a love story, Red Moon combines warfare and politics to create a story like none other. Watch the book trailer below by Hodder Books for a further look into Red Moon.
What do you think? Will you be reading Red Moon this summer?
The Asylum by John Harwood
HMH • $25 • ISBN 9780544003477
On sale May 21
Tasmanian writer John Harwood is a modern master of the Victorian ghost story. If you've ever wished that Wilkie Collins and MR James had written a book together, check out his atmospheric debut, The Ghost Writer, which had me sleeping with the lights on. In his third novel, The Asylum, the suspense starts on page 1, where young Georgina Ferrars wakes up, disoriented, in a madhouse. The last event she remembers took place on September 23, 1882—and the doctor reveals it is now November. If that's not bad enough, everyone there is calling her Lucy Ashton.
Was it possible that the real Lucy Ashton—where had I heard that name before?—looked just like me? Could we have been confused with each other? But that did nothing to explain what I was doing in a private asylum in Cornwall, a part of the world I had never visited . . . and so my thoughts went spiralling on, until Bella reappeared, struggling under the weight of a stout leather valise, a hatbox and a dark blue travelling-cloak, none of which I recognized.
"I am afraid those are not my things."
The girl regarded me with, I thought, a certain compassion.
"Beg pardon, miss, but you was wearing that cloak when you come here yesterday. And look," she added, setting down the case and opening it. "Here's your wrap, miss, the one you asked me to look out when you was cold later on."
She held up a blue woollen shawl—the pattern was certainly one I might have chosen myself—and draped it around my shoulders. I watched numbly as she opened the closet and began to unpack the case—which had "L.A." stamped in faded gold lettering below the handle. Everything she took out of it looked like clothes I might have chosen myself, but none of them was mine.
Who is Lucy Ashton? What happened to Georgina during the month of October 1882? You'll want to keep reading to find out.
What are you reading this week?
guest post by Adam Nevill
To celebrate the publication of his fourth novel, Last Days (St. Martin's Griffin) later this month, British horror writer Adam Nevill shares 10 modern novels that made him a better horror writer.
I have a very old-school approach to writing because it’s the only one I know: read the canon of the field you want to contribute to, acquire the craft of good writing and develop a voice. If it takes 10 years or longer, so be it. Here are 10 modern horror novels that just might inspire you to be a better writer.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The author achieves an effective suspension of reader disbelief, and a triumph of quiet hero characterization. No book frightens me as much as this one.
The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
A dark and blackly comic descent into paranoia and surreal weirdness, by the English master of the modern ghost story. A testament to the power of suggestion over graphic description. Also, a fine rebuff to anyone who believes horror is merely pulp lacking high literary value.
The Terror by Dan Simmons
An extraordinary historical novel, horror novel, and crime thriller all in one story. A monumental feat of multi-sensory descriptive writing too, that actually made me feel cold while under a warm duvet in a modern heated house. Quality writing and epic storytelling.
The Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
One of the best horror novels I have read. An enigmatic, compelling triumph of great lyrical writing and storytelling.
World War Z by Max Brooks
This innovative concept novel that makes you wonder whether the Z war actually happened. I suspect it was the book that launched the recent “George Romero dead rise” subgenre in horror fiction, but I still haven’t read better. Don’t wait for the film, read it!
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
Like Thomas Harris, I think John Connelly demonstrates, time and time again, the perfect blend of horror and crime fiction. This is the first of his Charlie Parker books.
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
I don’t think the author would thank me for regarding this as a horror novel. From the quality of the writing to the eye-wateringly loathsome villains, to the heartbreaking story, it is a great novel that also disturbs and horrifies and is swollen with a sense of dread.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Everything at stake on every single page. Fiction doesn’t get much grimmer, but nor does it matter as much. One of only a handful of books I have reread three times (and counting).
The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
A powerful slice of domestic horror about orphaned children in an ordinary setting. Dark, perverse, and very disturbing, but exquisitely written.
The Shining by Stephen King
The daddy of modern horror novels, and one which all haunted house novels are compared to (usually unfavorably). Perhaps also the greatest family-in-peril horror novel.
Got anything to add to the list? Find out more about Nevill and his path to publication in a behind-the-book story, and visit his website for more information on Last Days, the story of an independent filmmaker whose comeback project takes a terrifying turn.
Has it really been four years since the publication of Gaiman's last adult novel, Anansi Boys? On June 18, he'll be breaking that streak with The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Morrow). This new modern fantasy—which, at 192 pages, is more of a novella—tells the story of a man who returns to his native English village to confront the horrifying evil he survived as a boy.
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family's lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed—within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duck pond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Will you be looking for this one?
p.s. Want to analyze Neil's handwriting? Check out the Meet the Author he did for Anansi Boys.