The Horror, The Horror!
Halloween approacheth! The handsome fella and I have geared up for it by observing his usual “scary movies only” October philosophy, or “Spooktober Spookacular” as I, and only I, call it. If you know me, you know that horror is not my go-to genre. Horror lite like Buffy the Vampire Slayer goes down fairly well, but not all-out psycho killer gorefests. In fact, let’s put it this way:
My Top Five Scary Movies
Yup. You get the picture.
While I don’t go in much for scary movies, I can usually read and sometimes enjoy horror in a squeamishless manner. This October, quite a few spine-tingling good times make their appearance. My favorites:
The Necromancer’s House
by Christopher Buehlman
Ace, $25.95 hardcover, ISBN-10 0425256650, October 2013
Andrew has long known that magic was a brutal game requiring blood sacrifice and a willingness to confront death, but his many years of peace and comfort have left him soft, more concerned with maintaining false youth than with seeing to his own defense. Now a monster straight from the pages of Russian folklore is coming for him, and frost and death are coming with her.
From my Shelf Awareness review: “While Buehlman’s chill-filled romp boasts entertainment value aplenty in the form of magical iPhone apps, deadly creatures and battles galore, its deeper layers explore the darker side of human nature–as all good horror must. Andrew’s vices and vanity echo the imperfections that keep all of us from reaching our full potential, and an exploration of body-snatching echoes the loss of self that frightens everyone. Smart and scary, this seamless blend of horror and urban fantasy will satisfy thrill-seekers at Halloween–or any other time of year.” Also? This book has a border collie. Sort of. The hero has a simulacrum powered by the heart of his deceased border collie because he just couldn’t let the dog go. I had some teary-eyed moments over the simulacrum.
by Paul Tobin
Dark Horse, $17.99 trade, ISBN-10 1616551364, October 2013
Declan Thomas’s body temperature is dropping. He never gets sick, never feels pain. An ex-inmate of an insane asylum that was destroyed in a fire, he has the strange ability to step inside a person’s madness – and sometimes cure it. He hopes to one day cure his own, but time is running out, as a demonic predator pursues him through a nightmare version of Boston – and when Declan’s temperature reaches zero…it’s over!
If you’re a fan of Joe Hill’s series Locke and Key, do yourself a favor and DO NOT miss this chilling, thought-provoking, and occasionally romantic piece of amazingness. No one (except the reader) knows where Declan came from or how old he is. He hasn’t spoken in the lifetime of anyone who currently knows him, certainly not Reece, the pretty young nurse who took him in when his asylum closed down. When the elegant and vicious entity called Nimble Jack resurfaces in the human world, Declan must act to escape or defeat him, for Jack feeds on the life force of humans, and he’s been hungry for Declan for a long, long time. The art is breathtaking, particularly the scenes in the Hungry World, a broken, dangerous dimension that parallels our own and causes insanity in humans who connect with it. One warning: As the cover art suggests, some scenes are not for the faint of stomach.
The Heavens Rise
by Christopher Rice
Gallery Books, ISBN-10 1476716080, $26.00 hardcover, October 2013
It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium. Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.
I’ve always avoided Christopher Rice for purely snooty reasons. He’s Anne Rice’s son, and I do like Anne Rice’s work, but I do not like it when the children of famous people make no secret of being the children of famous people. For example, I respect Joe Hill for not writing under the surname of his famous father, and for the fact that his author bios don’t tend to say, “Joe Hill is Stephen King’s kid, everybody!” I even worried that Christopher Rice might try to write like his mother and fall flat. However, he surprised me. He reminds me more of Stephen King than of Anne Rice, but a more lucid, less self-indulgent King. The horror element comes not only from the villain’s desire for revenge as described in the blurb, but also from the fact that he’s a sadistic lunatic with mind control powers. I had some moments when I had to put the book down because it was too close to bedtime for so much creepiness. Beyond the scares, though, this is a story about post-Katrina New Orleans and the people who stayed and fought for her, and that aspect elevates Rice’s latest above garden variety horror fare.
May you all have safe Halloweens! Happy haunting!