Today John McNee is recommending 5 recent horror books he thinks we should take a chance on. Pay close attention because he managed to find some really great books I missed on my February post! Also be sure to check out John's latest release Prince of Nightmares. It came out in January just before I started doing my horror spotlight posts.
HORROR AUTHOR JOHN MCNEE RECOMMENDS
5 BOOKS HE HASN'T READ
I don't read as much as I know I probably should or would like to. I spend more time reading about new books I'd like to read than actually reading them. That makes recommending new books I know are definitely good, pretty close to impossible (unless I just lie about having read them, which I guess I could do – why don't I just do that?).
What I'm going to do instead is recommend five recently published books that I think look worth checking out. And I'm going to tell you why.
1. THE VIOLATORS by VINCENZO BILOF
RELEASED: Feb 23rd, 2016
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Alan Chambers, an anxious loser whose goal is to become a prominent English professor, has just been accepted into the exclusive class on The Artistry of Contemporary Literature. His excitement is dampened when he learns that his new classmates are dedicated to human violation in the name of art. They have given Alan one responsibility—destroy them. These literary violators have discovered a primal link between literature, art, sexuality, and murder. But rape and kidnapping as a means to analyze the works of James Joyce and Homer have lost their allure, and only Alan can save them from themselves.
WHY I THINK IT MIGHT BE GOOD: Awesome cover aside, I've seen a few mentions of 'The Violators' kicking around social media, many from Bilof and authors talking about how they expected he would face a lot of flak for what he puts on the page here. Quite a few mentions of 'pitchforks'. I don't know how much of that is true and how much just marketing hype, but either way it's made me curious enough that I want to find out. Plus I don't really understand or enjoy a lot of pretentious highbrow literature, so if Bilof's taking aim at that crowd then I'll probably get a fair amount of enjoyment out of it, provided the violence is plentiful. I also gravitate towards most any book with an 'anxious loser' as its protagonist. Which brings me to...
2. GRAVEYARD LOVE by SCOTT ADLERBERG
RELEASED: Feb 1st, 2016
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Thirty five year old writer Kurt Morgan lives with his mother across the street from a graveyard. He becomes obsessed with a red-haired woman who visits the graveyard often, watching her through the telescope in his room. Whose grave does she visit every time she comes? he wonders. Meanwhile, he is writing the memoir his mother has pressured him to write, her own. She wants her book finished, and soon. Among these three - Kurt, the graveyard visitor, and Kurt's mother- a twisted triangle develops, with each person pursuing their specific obsession at all costs.
WHY I THINK IT MIGHT BE GOOD: Another loser as protagonist. I know a 35-year-old living with his mother isn't all that unusual in today's strained economy, but couple it with the voyeurism and red-head stalking and I'm pretty sure 'loser' is what we're dealing with here. Having said that, I'm prone to the occasional bout of obsession over red-heads myself, so I'm not one to judge. In all seriousness, these sound like they could be some interesting characters, with an original dynamic and a mysterious premise. I'm already interested to know why the red-head's always visiting the graveyard, what's in Kurt's mom's memoirs and what the hell's going to become of them all, and I haven't even cracked the cover.
3. THE MASTER'S MARIONETTES by GJ WOOD
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: A group of strangers are drawn to a strange, dark place like marionettes with hidden strings. Boyd Shingles, a middle-aged property dealer, duped into purchasing The Red House; the disfigured and murderous Mr Clay, instructed by the voices coursing though the old building; Cullen, a former henchman manipulated and tortured by the puppeteer; Abbott, an old fisherman, and his granddaughter, Lily.
All have been drawn into the horrible show by The Master of the Marionettes himself, Leopold Carr, a malevolent occultist committed to violent and perverse sacrificial tributes.
No one is safe when the Master of the Marionettes pulls his strings and brings forth a long-forgotten evil that will change their world forever...
WHY I THINK IT MIGHT BE GOOD: Well, there's the title. I like that title. A lot. And while I'm a little disappointed that the synopsis doesn't mention any actual puppets (I guess that was too much to hope for?) it still sounds pretty interesting. A group of strangers, drawn into a web of terror which they cannot comprehend. Who lives? Who dies? What is the 'long-forgotten evil' and will it actually show up? It sounds to me like this book could be a lot of fun. Above all else, I'm drawn towards a book that promises a truly captivating villain. The Master of Marionettes, Leopold Carr, sounds like he could be the real deal. I'd like to find out.
4. EXPERIMENTAL FILM by GEMMA FILES
RELEASED: Dec 3rd, 2015
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Former Canadian film history teacher Lois Cairns - jobless and depressed in the wake of her son's autism diagnosis - accidentally discovers the existence of lost early 20th century Ontario filmmaker Mrs. A. Macalla Whitcomb. By deciding to investigate how Mrs. Whitcomb's obsessions might have led to her mysterious disappearance, Lois unwittingly invites the forces which literally haunt Mrs. Whitcomb's films into her life, eventually putting her son, her husband and herself in danger.
WHY I THINK IT MIGHT BE GOOD: I just love the set-up of this. I like stories in which characters unwittingly lay the groundwork for their own doom, like in 'Heart-shaped Box', say, when Judas Coyne kicks everything off by bidding for the titular box on Ebay. I like the simplicity of that, coupled with the irresistible premise of an investigation into forgotten film-lore. There is a noted creepiness to a lot of early 20th century film and I'm curious about how that could be realised on the page. Full disclosure – I actually have my own idea for a horror novel involving the investigation into the history of a mysterious film. I'd quite like to read this to find out how close our ideas are, if Files nails it, and whether I should just toss my idea out.
5. I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU by DANGER SLATER
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Ernie's life is a mess. Gretchen's gone, and the apartment they once shared is this grey, grim city is now overrun with intelligent mold and sinister bugs. Then his neighbor Dee shows up, so smart and lovely. If he can just get past the fact that her jealous boyfriend could reach out of her blouse and punch him in the face at any moment, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Unfortunately for all involved, a Great Storm is coming and it will wash away everything we've ever known about the human heart.
WHY I THINK IT MIGHT BE GOOD: Of all the writers I'm recommending, Danger Slater is the only one I've actually read, so I'm pretty comfortable saying this is a book you should probably read, even though it seems he's aiming to push the disgust-o-meter to breaking point. From what I can gather, this book is about a man who starts to rot after his girlfriend leaves him, with added cockroaches (I think this is right, but again... I haven't read it). The breakdown of the human body as a metaphor for the breakdown of a relationship is a sound one, offering plenty of scope for grotesque descriptions, but I also know that Slater is the kind of writer who can inject such squalid scenes with a ton of heart and humour, with a flair for the kind of bizarre characters and situations that you don't get anywhere else. Plus, it has another abject loser as its protagonist and we all know how much I respond to that (please no reading too much into this).
So those are my five. If you haven't read them, please read them. If you have read any of them, what did you think? Are they any good? Was I right to recommend them? You'll all probably find out before I do.
John McNee is a writer of strange and disturbing horror stories, published in a variety of strange and disturbing anthologies, as well as the novel 'Prince of Nightmares'.
He is also the author of 'GrudgePunk', probably the only dieselpunk-bizarro-horror-noir anthology around.
He lives on the west coast of Scotland, where he works for a trade magazine.
Prince of Nightmares by John McNee
Welcome to the Ballador Country House Hotel. Nestled in the highlands of Scotland, it is unlike any other lodging. Guests can expect wonderful scenery, gourmet food, and horrifying nightmares—guaranteed. Daring travelers pay thousands to stay within the Ballador’s infamous rooms because of the vivid and frightening dreams the accommodations inspire.
Before Josephine Teversham committed suicide, she made a reservation at the hotel for her husband, Australian magnate Victor Teversham. Once he arrives at the hotel, Victor finds himself the target of terrifying forces, revealing the nightmares and their purpose to be more strange, personal, and deadly than anyone could have guessed.
Thank you, John!