Okay, so the title should really read “My Favorite” Horror Novels of 2016, but the SEO machine needs to be tickled, so pardon me.
I tore through a ton of books throughout 2016 (73, Goodreads currently tells me), in fact, that’s the most I’ve ever read in a single year. In 2015, I believe I ended up reading around 50 works of varying length. This year, I’ll probably finish 75 or greater.
While some may argue the year itself wasn’t all that great, there’s no denying 2016 was fantastic for horror fiction. This year handed us some high-quality reads which made this list extremely difficult to rank. Although I did my best, there are a number of books with great buzz I didn’t get to read (Bracken MacLeod’s Stranded and Ed Kurtz’s The Rib From Which I Remake the World, just to name a couple). If you want to look at all the books I read this year, check out my Goodreads Profile here. Also, feel free to drop your own favorites in the comments below, especially some lesser known titles. I’m always on the lookout for new reads!
Without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2016:
10. Night Things: Dracula vs Frankenstein by Terry West – Terry West has crafted a great book for the die hard horror fan. Specifically, those in love with our classic movie monsters. Not only does the book feature a fresh take on Dracula and Frankenstein, but he incorporates other cinema favorites along the journey. Loved this book.
9. Beyond Where the Sky Ends: Dark Tales to Disturb and Engage by D.S. Ullery – D.S. Ullery may not be a household name (yet), but odds are if you’re a fan of anthologies, you’ve come across his name. This book collects some of D.S.’s best short fiction and it will terrify you, make you cry, and sicken your soul. This is a writer to watch and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him.
8. Desolation by Kristopher Rufty – This book came out last January and I wish I had read it sooner. Desolation is basically a home invasion story, but the way Rufty crafts his characters is something to gush over. The way he realistically portrays violence will make even the most seasoned horror reader cringe. Desolation is an exceptional story by an exceptional author.
7. Blister by Jeff Strand – There’s something about Jeff Strand’s writing that sits well with me. A relatively short read, Blister is more or less a different kind of love story. It’s funny and violent, but it has a lot of heart, something I wasn’t totally expecting when I cracked it open. Plus, the book deals with a lot of the same themes and carries the same tone as my novel, In the House of Mirrors, so it definitely connected with me on another level.
6. Mayan Blue by Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason (The Sisters of Slaughter) – This book really knocked my socks off. I wasn’t sure what to expect during the first few chapters, but as the book progressed it went from typical horror-movie tropes to this-is-some-crazy-ass-shit in a flash. It’s a perfect combination of extreme horror and dark fantasy, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to see what the Sisters of Slaughter come up with next.
5. The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea – Come on now. You can’t have a book called The Jersey Devil out there and expect me to leave it off my Top 10. No way. Well, a sucker for New Jersey lore aside, I enjoyed this awesome book written by one of my favorite writers. Shea’s portrayal of the Jersey Devil is completely unique and this book is a great example of Shea at his best.
4. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones – This book really took me by surprise. Through the first twenty pages, I didn’t really like it. The jumping timeline and the fact that it was hardly a werewolf story at all kind of turned me off, but as I delved deeper I became fascinated, and I found myself unable to put it down. The prose is almost hypnotic in the way it pulls you in. You know what, enough explanation – just read it! It’s great!
3. The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi – Ronald Malfi’s books, for me, are staples of modern horror fiction. I expected The Night Parade to be some of his best work, and you know what? It is. A post-apocalyptic plague that causes people to have waking nightmares is one of the most ingenious inventions ever. This book has great imagery, an amazing plot, and a winning cast of characters, elements that a lot of modern post-apocalyptic fiction tends to lack.
2. Savages by Greg F. Gifune – I had only read a few Greg F. Gifune’s DarkFuse novellas prior to jumping into this novel about a group of shipwrecked survivors trying to outwit a highly proficient assassin. I can’t tell you how much I loved this novel. It has everything a horror fan wants and expects, and so much more. Add it to the top of your TBR, like, now.
1 . Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz – My number one spot goes to Mr. Jonathan Janz for his novel Children of the Dark. It’s the only book this year I literally could NOT put down. Seriously, I felt like this book had been glued to my fingertips. For a few days I spent every waking moment worshipping Janz’s beautiful prose and captivating storyline. If you consider yourself a horror fan, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Janz’s work, and Children of the Dark is the perfect place to start.
A few other works I thoroughly enjoyed and deserve a mention: The Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay, The Complex by Brian Keene, Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe, Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters, & Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. I’m also halfway through Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s Hex and I’m fucking loving it.
That wraps up my list of favorite novels from 2016. Hope everyone has a great holiday and please stay safe this New Year.