I’m thrilled to welcome Jason Sizemore to the blog again! In case you don’t know, Jason is the editor for all things Apex, including Apex Publications and Apex Magazine. I interviewed him last year about his roles at Apex, and this time around we’re getting a peek into what Jason loves to read. I recently reviewed Irredeemable, his book of short stories from Seventh Star Press, and today he’s written a Top Ten list of his all time favorite horror books, a subject that is near and dear to my heart! I’m happy to say I’ve read several of these, and the rest I’m eager to check out. So please help me welcome Jason to Books Bones & Buffy…
Jason Sizemore’s Top Ten Horror Novels
As a reader of horror, I’m often asked two questions. How can you read all that twisted stuff (the real question here is “Are you a sicko violent person because you like horror?”)? and What is your favorite horror novel?
I answer the first question with the creepiest smile I can manage. The second question always stumps me. Having read hundreds and hundreds of horror novels, many of them great, how the heck can a person pick just one novel as his favorite?
Instead, I’m going to list ten horror novels. Each of them appeals to me in certain ways that make them special. Each of them affected me as a reader, writer, and publisher. And, most importantly, each of them entertained me.
The Rising by Brian Keene – I’ve read a lot of zombie novels in my lifetime. Probably too many, to tell the truth. I consider The Rising to be the best of the lot by a country mile. Like any good zombie novel, the zombies are the background to the real horror. The undead simply raise the danger and the stakes. The Rising is a story about a father trying to reach his son. It’s powerful and moving, and may have a lot to do with the zombie invasion we’ve dealt with the last few years.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – Never has a book been a more entertaining CHORE to read than House of Leaves. Danielewski uses every trick he can manage with prose and the physical book form to get under your skin. This one chilled me in much the same way a good found footage film does.
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill – This collection of mostly horror short fiction stands as one of my favorite books regardless of the genre. Joe Hill nails all the right emotional chords in all the stories. As a writer, it is a book I visit from time to time for inspiration on how to do it right.
The Long Walk by Stephen King – While technically a novella, it deserves a spot because it is such a horrifying, gut-wrenching work. It hits the emotional chords that works like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games hoped to approach.
The Troop by Nick Cutter – This is probably the most recent novel on my list. The Troop is a rare breed because it is one that I nearly couldn’t finish. I’m far from squeamish, but The Troop pushed me to the limits of what I could stomach. A small troop of boy scouts are trapped on an island with their troop leader. When an escapee from a nearby pharmaceutical lab finds his way to the island, bad things happen. Really bad things.
November Mourns by Tom Piccirilli – This book, while not your typical horror novel, will linger in your mind for years and years with its horrific imagery and ruthless characters. Set in Appalachia, it reads like a surreal dream. I consider it Piccirilli’s best work, and considering the strength of his bibliography, that should read as high praise!
City of the Dead by Brian Keene – This is the sequel to The Rising and is every bit as good. Things go from bleak to bleaker by the end of this novel. Keene brings his characters to life and you’ll mourn the loss of each one as the inevitable happens to most of them (zombie chow!).
Mama’s Boy by Fran Friel – Okay, another novella, and worse yet, one that is out of print. Mama’s Boy was a limited edition book by a now defunct press. It impressed me so much that I begged Fran Friel to allow Apex Publications to reprint it in a collection of her work. It’s a bit like Silence of the Lambs, except more intense and concentrated…and dare I say more twisted?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Thanks to Oprah, everybody knows about this book. It is a post-apocalyptic tale about a father and his son as they traverse a stark landscape. The writing is raw and sparse, and the story is unrelenting in its bleakness.
Preacher by Garth Ennis – This is my wildcard pick. I could go with The Walking Dead here…but why not something grittier and better. Preacher is a graphic novel series about a man on a quest to kill God. Along the way, God sends some bad things after him. If you’re a fan of horror or dark fantasy, you have got to give Preacher a read.
Thank you Jason! Out of his list, I’ve read House of Leaves, 20th Century Ghosts, The Long Walk, and The Road, all worthy contenders for a Top Ten list.
Jason Sizemore is a writer and editor who lives in Lexington, KY. He owns Apex Publications, an SF, fantasy, and horror small press, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award three times for his editing work on Apex Magazine. Stay current with his latest news and ramblings via his website and his Twitter feed.