Sunday, October 6, 2013

Halloween Reads: Creepy, Disturbing UF/Fantasy/LGBT/Spec Fic & Horror!

It's October. Time for reading the spooky and disturbing. I have a stack of books that I have been reading or checking out -- not a Stephen King book in sight either... but we all already know he's the King! My list is a combination of books that have an edge of the dark stuff, and others that are made of darkness. You may or may not have heard of them, but what they all have in common is that they are all great reads!


URBAN FANTASY AND FANTASY with an edge and a dash of the dark stuff. If you don't like too much of the creepy stuff that comes with horror but enjoy a bit of edge, urban fantasy, and fantasy can provide that. The following is a list of books I highly enjoyed, beginning with a few I read recently:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Novel 2013, Fantasy) - An adult fairy tale with the Gaiman magic and a darker, more adult plot at its core. There are some pretty disturbing scenes in this fairy tale, and not all of them come from the magic-side of things.
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Novel, 2013 - Fantasy) - This fantasy piece has some fantastically gruesome shifters! I mean these are not cookie cutter vampires or shifters. The story has darkness and edge with a dash of warmth and humor providing balance. A great beginning to a new fantasy series by Ms. Bishop.
Omens (Cainsville #1) by Kelley Armstrong (Novel, 2013 - Urban Fantasy) - Omens is the beginning of a new urban fantasy series by Armstrong. However, the fantasy aspects of the story are a bit blunted in the first book, but overall the story is definitely unsettling -- more of a suspense read with light paranormal elements and an edgy flavor.
Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear (Novella, 2010 - Fantasy) This novella with necromancy as a central theme is gorgeously dark. It also serves as a sort of prequel to Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky fantasy series.


SPECULATIVE FICTION ANYONE? 
In Search Of and Others by Will Ludwigsen (Collection 2013, Speculative Fiction) is one of the best collections of speculative fiction short stories I read this past year. It has those disturbing, unsettling pieces, and the ones that just make you think and wonder.
The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Doctor Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth (Illustrated Book, 2013 - Speculative Fiction/Horror) is one of the most creative pieces I read this year. This book has some magnificent illustrations and a very short story about Doctor Spencer Black, separate they are a curiosity, together they become a uniquely gruesome experience.
Fungi edited by Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Anthology, 2012 - Speculative Fiction/Horror) I began reading Fungi last year, finished it in 2013, and never reviewed it. It's a shame because this is such a great collection. I have favorite pieces that are stuck in my mind as if I read them yesterday, either because they're disturbing or downright unique. Two quick examples: "Last Bloom on the Sage by Andrew Penn Romine" is a memorable short with fantastic characters, world building, action and a plot that combines western steampunk with mushroom weirdness. And, in "Midnight Mushrumps by W. H. Pugmire" the beginning reads like a dream that quickly gains the atmosphere of a dark fairy tale and veers off into a dank, fungi infested, horror-filled nightmare.


READING: Moving on to a list of books I'm reading at the moment, you will find everything from the mild to pure unadulterated horror!
Still Life with Murder (Gilded Age Mystery #1) by P. B. Ryan (2003 Historical Mystery/Suspense) I saw a recommendation for this book at Li's site Me and My Books and decided to check it out. I'm already 25% through the book. It is set in the midst of aristocratic Boston during the Civil War and the main character is an Irish immigrant. It has an upstairs/downstairs sort of flavor with scenes that range from posh settings to the Bostonian Irish ghettos. I'm really liking it. Not a horror or speculative fiction read, but definitely a good mystery so far.
The Dust of Wonderland by Lee Thomas (2013, Novel Rerelease - LGBT Speculative Fiction/Horror) This story, set in New Orleans, is all about atmosphere and suspense. Lee Thomas always keeps me at the edge of my seat, and that's exactly what happened as soon as I began reading the prologue. I'm about 25% through the book and will let you know how it turns out. Mr. Thomas is an author whose works I absolutely, positively recommend if you want to read excellent spec-fic/suspense/horror that has a deeper, more meaningful subplot at its core. He does not disappoint.
Zombies: Shambling through the Ages ed. by Steve Berman (2013, Anthology - Horror) I am reading this collection at the moment. I am enjoying the creative way zombies are portrayed by the different authors, some of them are quite unusual. The book is divided in such a way that it more or less gives a history of the zombie, so the stories follow a fascinating progression. I was really hooked by the first short story "Blood Marker by Victoria Janssen," which almost serves as a sort of introduction to the Before Lazarus section and sets up a precedent for the uniqueness that follows.
I have more! My list was rather long this year, but I paired it down to ten which was not easy. I also have a "want to read" list and TBR pile that is a mile long. Do you read spooky stories, mysteries or crime suspense during October? What books do you recommend?

2012 Halloween Recs
2012 Xtra Scary Recs
2011 Halloween Reads

2 comments:

  1. Some interesting reads you've got there Hils. I loved Written in Red and enjoyed listening to Neil Gaiman narrate his book. I have P. B. Ryan's book on the tbr pile so I'm curious to hear what you think.

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    1. Les, I would love to pick up the audio book for The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I think that would be a different experience from reading it. And, you have the P.B. Ryan? I'm enjoying it so far! Did you read Omens by Armstrong yet? I really liked that book -- my first full-length novel/experience with Armstrong.

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