It’s been a few years since I did this. Sorry about that. I’m constantly behind in my reading (and I’m not the lightning fast reader I used to be). Because of this, the following list is a top five instead of a top ten, and it’s made up of books I read this year. Very few, if any, were first published in 2014.
1. WILD FELL by Michael Rowe – One of the best parts of my ReaderCon trip this year was plunking down cash at the ChiZine table. Those folks put out great books year after year. Among my many great buys, Michael Rowe’s WILD FELL stands at the top. An ominous and unique take on the ghost story, Rowe starts with a kernal of dread and builds and builds. The book accelerates as you read it, and I was finished with this one before I reached my first layover on the way home. Excellent read!
2. THE BEAUTIFUL THING THAT AWAITS US ALL by Laird Barron – This year brought us Laird Barron’s third collection, and it may be his best yet. Dripping with atmosphere, the stories in this collection just burrow deep into the center of you. “The Men From Porlock” was the stand out for me, with a look at Barron’s Old Leech, which is one of the best creations the genre’s seen in years.
3. SCALPED by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera – This was the year I finally finished SCALPED, Aaron and Guera’s amazing comics tale of an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the reservation where he was raised. One of the best noir comics I’ve ever read, full of intrigue, violence, heartbreak, and some of the most powerful characters you’ll find in comics. I’ve linked to the first trade paperback collection. Start there and work your way through the entire story.
4. THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY & OTHER MONSTROUS GEOGRAPHIES by John Langan – Langan is one of the best writers of short fiction working today, and this collection (only his second) almost feels like a victory lap, with Langan putting his unique spin on several of the genre’s better-known tropes. There’s the zombie version of OUR TOWN, for instance. With “Technicolor,” he twists Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” into something even more terrifying. The title story, might I add, is the second best vampire story I’ve read…ever.
5. NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS by Nathan Ballingrud – What’s the best vampire story I’ve ever read? Why, it would be “Sunbleached” from this collection, which is a story that hits like a punch right to the heart. I’d never read Ballingrud before this colelction, but I can now say he’s one of my favorite writers. The stories collected in this book are outstanding from front to back. Grab a copy and start reading. You won’t be sorry.