Horror book recommendations

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Since it’s October, the spooky month, I thought I’d give you some of my horror recommendations. Horror is a quite broad genre, but I’ll be sticking with my favourite kind of horror: those with loads of guts and twisted minds.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

The house looked right, felt right to Dr Louis Creed.

Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle; the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago.

Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive threat.

But behind the house and far away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children have processed with the solemn innocence of the young, taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.

A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding.

What’s a horror recommendation list without featuring the King? I chose Pet Sematary because it’s definitely one of King’s darkest stories, full of despair, loss and dark places. Even King himself wasn’t sure if it was suitable to publish this story!

My review on Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity. She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers — a family of cannibalistic lunatics — are closing in.

A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood.

In snowbound Detroit, a waitress trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back on the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun.

And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance… a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers.

It’s time to return to Elkwood.

In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world — the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge — and sets them on an unthinkable journey… back into the heart of darkness.

If you’re in for a more typical kind of horror, then Kin is the perfect book for you! It’s filled with guts and gore, but also some crazy rednecks appear on stage. It definitely made me happy that The Netherlands is quite densely populated, so people like the ones in this book have nowhere to hide for such a long time!

My review on Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.

For the sea was a fair master.

If you’re looking for a quick read to read on Halloween, this is a great one! This was the first flash fiction collection I read and I really fell in love with the genre. Demmer did such a great job on building characters and a whole story in only a couple of pages! It’s definitely a book I want to revisit someday!

My review on The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

‘What are the possibilities of my strength? That is a thought I have never had before. What if some morning as the old woman stood at the head of the staircase she were suddenly to feel a weight thrusting against the back of her legs? What if she were to lunge forward, grasping at the air, striking her thin skull against the edge of a stair? What would become of me if she were found unmoving at the bottom of the stairway?’

Such are the thoughts of Baxter, a sociopathic bull terrier on the hunt for the perfect master, as he contemplates the demise of his first victim. The basis for the acclaimed 1989 film Baxter, Ken Greenhall’s utterly chilling and long-unobtainable Hell Hound (1977) has earned a reputation as a lost classic of horror fiction. […]

I had never heard of this one before I read it, but now I definitely understand why it has gained the classic status. Not only is it a vicious story, it also had me almost tear up at the end, because although Baxter isn’t exactly a nice dog, you still end up caring for him.

My review on Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Father Damien Karras: ‘Where is Regan?’
Regan MacNeil: ‘In here. With us.’

The terror begins unobtrusively. Noises in the attic. In the child’s room, an odd smell, the displacement of furniture, an icy chill. At first, easy explanations are offered. Then frightening changes begin to appear in eleven-year-old Regan. Medical tests fail to shed any light on her symptoms, but it is as if a different personality has invaded her body.

Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in. Is it possible that a demonic presence has possessed the child? Exorcism seems to be the only answer… […]

This book is promised to be “the most terrifying novel ever written”, but I have to say that I wasn’t scared once. I thought it was more terrifying in the way that our own mind can play tricks upon us: the ones who “own” the mind. I don’t believe in demonic possessions, but I believe that a mind can make one believe that it is possessed. To me it’s all psychological. However, if you do believe that demonic possessions are possible, then this is a fantastically creepy read!

My review on The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Bleed by Ed Kurtz

When Walt Blackmore moves into an old gable front house on the outskirts of a small town, things are really looking up for him—he has an adoring girlfriend, a new job, and an altogether bright future. But Walt’s destiny is irreparably changed when a dark red spot appears on the ceiling in the hallway. Bit by bit the spot grows, first into a dripping blood stain and eventually into a grotesque, muttering creature.

As the creature thrives, Walt finds himself more and more interested in fostering its well-being. At first he only feeds it stray animals, but this soon fails to satisfy the monster’s ghastly needs. It is gradually becoming something more, and for that to happen it requires human blood and human flesh. And once Walt has crossed the line from curiosity to murder, there is no going back.

Bleed is a nice example of what fear in combination with isolation can do to a person. Walt starts out as a perfectly normal man, but ends up … well, you have to read it for yourself. And the ending of this one was so surprising – loved it!

My review on Bleed by Ed Kurtz

Do you have any other gory horror recommendations?

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