Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 17 -- 10 Favorite Horror Authors

I hesitate to even compile this list, as I don't read nearly as much horror fiction as one might expect, so I have very little experience with the works of some pretty major authors such as Robert Bloch or Richard Matheson. But, I can worry about expanding my horror fiction knowledge-base before next year's Halloween countdown -- for now, I'll just focus on the authors for whom I have read multiple works.

10. Clive Barker -- I haven't read a lot of Barker's work, and most of it would probably fall more under the heading of Fantasy than Horror.  I have, however, enjoyed his horror short stories quite a bit, especially "The Forbidden," which was the basis of Candyman.

9. F. Paul Wilson -- I haven't read any of Wilson's work since high school, but I really enjoyed his Adversary Cycle, which took characters from his first three seemingly unconnected novels (The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch) and brought them together for an apocalyptic storyline that spanned three more books (Reborn, Reprisal, and the concluding novel Nightworld which I just now discovered existed -- something new to add to my ever growing reading list)

8. Robert McCammon -- I enjoyed McCammon's Mystery Walk, short story collection Blue World, and the post-apocalyptic novel Swan Song, but it's really the strength of Mine that earns him a spot on the list.

7. Peter Straub -- If I were just going off the strength of his excellent Ghost Story alone, Straub would be higher on my list; as it is, while I liked Julia and Mr. X okay, they didn't exactly grab me, and his recent book A Dark Matter started off strong, but totally lost me by the end.

6. Joe Hill -- I was already a fan of Hill from his horror comic Locke & Key before I sampled his novel Horns, saw his picture on the back cover, and thought to myself "Gee, he could pass for Stephen King's son."  It wasn't until I was looking him up on line to find out what else he had written that I discovered that there's a very good reason for that . . . Anyway, while I enjoyed Horns quite a bit, his debut novel Heart Shaped Box was one of the best horror novels I've read in ages.

5. Dean Koontz -- I'll admit to eventually growing a bit disillusioned with the prolific Koontz's later works, but I devoured his work in the 80s and 90s.  Watchers, Midnight, Phantoms, Whispers, The Bad Place, Dragon Tears, Intensity -- they may not have been great literature, but they captured my imagination enough to lead me to track down everything of his I could find.

4. Dan Simmons -- Although I've read more of Simmons Sci-Fi work than his Horror work, the Horror novels of his I have read (Song of Kali, The Terror, Summer of Night) have all been very different, but very well done; I especially enjoyed Summer of Night, which I reviewed a few years back.

3. H. P. Lovecraft -- Very few writers have managed to give me chills; some of the descriptive passages in Lovecraft's story "Pickman's Model" did precisely that.  For that alone he'd make this list.

2. Kim Newman --While I enjoyed Newman's Jago and Bad Dreams more than his The Quorum, his high ranking on this list is based primarily on his Anno Dracula series, which postulates a world wherein the vampiric count escapes Van Helsing and crew and becomes ruler of England, making vampirism fashionable.  The first novel in the series is one of my favorite books, and I'm glad to hear that a new volume, Johnny Alucard, is scheduled to be published next year.

1. Stephen King -- Was there really any doubt on this one? The Stand, It, Desperation, Salem's Lot, Bag of Bones, Misery, and, of course, The Shining; even with a handful of books that I didn't care for -- I'm looking at you, Tommyknockers and Insomnia -- the bulk of King's work resonates with me on a level it's hard to ignore.  Plus, his It is another work that gave me chills.

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