Wicked Neighborhood #2: The Foot is Coming Jan. 28!

Something Wicked This Way Comes! And it’s called The Foot!

The second issue in my five-issue series, Wicked Neighborhood, will be pre-released on January 25 (my birthday), with an official release on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Take a look at the cover:

TheFootCover

The Foot Plot Synopsis:

Ernie Graham discovers a mysterious space rock in his backyard. The rock seemingly infects his body, forcing his foot to mutate into a deadly organism that’s out for blood. Can he stop his evil foot before it kills someone he truly loves?

For those unaware, Wicked Neighborhood is a “Goosebumps for adults”-type short story series that is loosely inspired by my very own neighborhood in northern Ohio, albeit twisted into delightfully freaky, weird, strange tales of pure macabre fiction. The Foot is the second issue in the series, following the best-selling hit, The Stray Cats.

The short stories will be split over five issues, with the possibility for future “seasons” of the series if the stories prove popular. In other words, if you like what you read, spread the word to keep this series going.

Each issue of Wicked Neighborhood will focus on one particular household seated on the seemingly quiet stretch of land known as Forest Street. The upcoming stories are connected by characters, incidents and events on the street. That said, it is not necessary that you read every single tale in the series to delight in what I have in store for you … though you will be missing quite a lot of fun. Also, as future issues appear, you are welcome to read them in any order you so desire.

On the book’s official release date, I’ll be sure to post a link, as well as a little background about this issue. Stay tuned!

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If you haven’t already, check out my short stories and novellas. Titles include,The Horror, Vampire Zombie Claus, Does She Smile at Home? and The Stray Cats. They’re all just 99 pennies each! CLICK HERE to buy your copies today!

I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Why I’m Looking Forward to 2014!

Greetings, happy belated holidays and welcome to 2014. I hope the first few days of this new year are treating you all very well.

Sorry I haven’t been around since early December. After pouring a few hundred hours into completing my novella, Vampire Zombie Claus, I decided to take a month off from the blog to recover and re-energize … plus I had all the holiday craziness to deal with, which was genuinely delightful, if slightly stressful.

My December went remarkably well. Not only did Santa bring me pretty much all the presents I could have ever hoped to receive, but my novelette, The Horror, was reviewed over at Horror-Writers.net. They gave the story a wonderful write-up, which I am incredibly pleased with. Thank you, guys … for reading the story, liking it and sharing your thoughts with the world. So awesome!

The Horror has also reached another major milestone. The book is currently sitting on Amazon’s Top 100 Best-Selling Horror books, where it has been for more than two weeks now. That’s right, my novelette has joined the ranks of other best-selling books by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz! As of the time I wrote this blog entry, the book was seated at #52. Check it out:

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If you haven’t read this story yet, and you like slasher horror or intense nail-biting thrillers, please do so! You can check it out on Kindle devices as well as your tablets, computers, or those fancy internet smart phones like the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy.

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So … onward with 2014! I’m incredibly stoked about this year. I’ve got a slew of projects coming up, from short stories, numerous blog entries and more. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

On January 25 (my birthday), I’ll be releasing The Foot, the second installment of the Wicked Neighborhood series. I’m also currently editing the fourth installment, and finishing writing the third issue. As some of you may know, I was originally planning a seven-issue season for this series, but I have slightly altered those plans. The “first season” of Wicked Neighborhood will now end after five issues. Following the five-issue release, I’ll publish a full-length book, collecting every issue.

I’m also prepping some printed copies of my stories for sale on Amazon, and I’ll be taking Wicked Neighborhood, Vampire Zombie Claus and The Horror to a few comic cons in 2014. I’ll keep you all posted on dates and events.

Just an FYI, I may not be publishing as many short stories and novellas in 2014. I would like to focus my efforts on finding a publisher for my three full-length works, including two fiction novels and one nonfiction book. I am still dedicated to getting all five issues of Wicked Neighborhood out there in 2014, as well as one or two other short stories and novellas.

As if I wasn’t working on enough, I am currently crafting an audiobook version of The Horror. I’m looking to have this ready by late summer/early fall 2014. My good friend,and uber-talented wunderkind musician, Michael McFarland, is busy drafting a musical theme for that audiobook, while I perfect my mini recording studio to bring you the best sounding, most professional audiobook I can.

As for this blog you are reading right now (probably in the nude, you kinky devil), I’ll be discussing numerous subjects in the coming weeks, from the controversial documentary Blackfish, to the fascinating story of The Disaster Artist, the book about the making of The Room, one of the best worst movies ever made. I’ll also be adding a few book reports, movie reviews, interviews, top 10 lists, and more.

2014 is going to be a big year, folks … so stay tuned and keep on making those dreams a reality!

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I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Get Two Short Stories on Kindle for Free!

Happy Cyber Monday!

Because of this special shop-at-home-naked event, I thought I’d offer two of my books for free. Just click on the titles or images below to get your copies! If you like the books, please add a kind review over at Amazon, Goodreads or both. Thanks and happy shopping!

Both books will be free from Cyber Monday through back-to-normal Tuesday, ending on Wednesday.

NoteYou can read the stories on any Kindle device or on your phone, computer or tablet just by downloading the Kindle app.

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

Does She Smile at Home?

In the midst of an existential crisis, a middle-aged man comes upon Dolores, a lowly grocery store clerk who never seems to smile. Confused and deeply haunted by this woman’s poisonous demeanor, and suspecting the riddle of her existence will somehow solve his own emotional puzzle, the man follows her to catch a glimpse of what her life is like at home. What he discovers there stirs him to his very core, and changes him forever.

This inspirational drama strays from my standard comforts in the thriller/horror/sci-fi genres and examines the nature of hope, depression, and socioeconomic woes through a philosophical lens. Rich with moody characters, brisk fall imagery and thoughtful metaphor, the story is meant for those who struggle to make ends meet, but hope for a better day.

TheStrayCatsCover

Wicked Neighborhood #1: The Stray Cats

Jennifer Riley is trying to pick up the shattered pieces of her life in the aftermath of an abusive husband. Despite her positive outlook, Jennifer feels an emptiness in her heart. That’s when Callie, an adorable tabby cat, appears on her doorstep seeking shelter. Jennifer allows the feline into her home, but soon another cat shows up at her doorstep … and another … and another … and another. What is causing this strange preponderance of cats? Is it Jennifer’s bizarre neighbors, each one seemingly weirder than the next? Is it her own selfish desire to fill her lonely days? Or is there something far more deadly at play? … something fiendish lurking within the woods surrounding Forest Street.

“The Stray Cats” is the first installment in an ongoing anthology series titled Wicked Neighborhood. The series is loosely inspired by/hyperbolized from my very own neighborhood in northern Ohio.

The short stories will be split over several issues, with the possibility for future “seasons” of the series if the stories prove popular. In other words, if you like what you read, spread the word to keep this series going.

Each issue of Wicked Neighborhood will focus on one particular household seated on the seemingly quiet stretch of land known as Forest Street. The upcoming stories are connected by characters, incidents and events on the street. That said, it is not necessary that you read every single tale in the series to delight in what I have in store for you … though you will be missing quite a lot of fun. Also, as future issues appear, you are welcome to read them in any order you desire.

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In addition to the free book sale, my latest novella, Vampire Zombie Claus, is also on sale, marked down from $2.99 to just $0.99. That sale ends Tuesday.

VampZomClausNEW

Vampire Zombie Claus

This Christmas tale recounts the shockingly true story of the life, and death, of Kris Kringle, from how he came to become a vampire, to the man known as Santa Claus, and eventually … Vampire Zombie Claus.

Following in the great tradition of stories like The Princess Bride, A Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lord of the Rings, World War Z and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this novella blends genres, both serious and silly, and delivers a new tale of excitement, nostalgia, humor and good old fashioned Christmas cheer.

The Horror Short Story Cover

The Horror (still just $0.99)

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre, grisly sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them.

I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Vampire Zombie Claus Available Today!

Just in time for the holidays comes Vampire Zombie Claus, an exciting genre-bending Christmas parody.

This 70-page novella will be on sale for just $.99 cents from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. After that, the story will be $2.99. So save some cash and grab you copy today by clicking here.

VampZomClausNEW

Plot Synopsis for Vampire Zombie Claus

This Christmas tale recounts the shockingly true story of the life, and death, of Kris Kringle, from how he came to become a vampire, to the man known as Santa Claus, and eventually … Vampire Zombie Claus.

Following in the great tradition of stories like The Princess Bride, A Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lord of the Rings, World War Z and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this novella blends genres, both serious and silly, and delivers a new tale of excitement, nostalgia, humor and good old fashioned Christmas cheer.

Some Background for Vampire Zombie Claus

Each Christmas Eve, when I was young, my family would scoot us little ones upstairs while they put out Christmas presents. My grandfather would come up with us and keep us occupied with zany stories. Following in his footsteps, I decided to craft an alternative Christmas legend that explores who Santa Claus was through a more genre-satisfying lens. I sincerely hope you all enjoy this novella, and if you do, be sure to review it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Many elves died to bring us this information…

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my other stories, The Horror, Does She Smile at Home? and The Stray Cats. Each tale is only .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today!

I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Short Story: Does She Smile at Home? out now on Amazon

This month I’ll be releasing not one, but two stories, exclusively on Amazon. The first (a short story) is titled Does She Smile at Home?

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

Plot Synopsis for Does She Smile at Home?

In the midst of an existential crisis, a middle-aged man comes upon Dolores, a lowly grocery store clerk who never seems to smile. Confused and haunted by this woman’s poisonous demeanor, and suspecting the riddle of her existence will somehow solve his own emotional puzzle, the man follows her home to see what her life is like. What he discovers stirs him to his very core, and changes him forever.

You can check out this short story for just .99 cents on Amazon. CLICK HERE to buy.

Note: You can read the story on any Kindle device or on your phone, computer or tablet just by downloading the Kindle app.

Some Background for Does She Smile at Home?

This powerful, inspirational drama strays from my standard comforts of the thriller/sci-fi/horror genre and explores the nature of hope, depression, and social/economic struggle through an existential lens. Rich with moody characters, brisk fall imagery and thoughtful metaphor, the story is meant for those who struggle to make ends meet, but hope for a better day.

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both stories only .99 cents each. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today!

The Horror:

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre, grisly sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them.

The Stray Cats:

Jennifer Riley is trying to pick up the shattered pieces of her life in the aftermath of an abusive husband. Despite her positive outlook, Jennifer feels an emptiness in her heart. That’s when Callie, an adorable tabby cat, appears on her doorstep seeking shelter. Jennifer allows the feline into her home, but soon another cat shows up at her doorstep … and another … and another … and another. What is causing this strange preponderance of cats? Is it Jennifer’s bizarre neighbors, each one seemingly weirder than the next? Is it her own selfish desire to fill her lonely days? Or is there something far more deadly at play? … something fiendish lurking within the woods surrounding Forest Street.

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Stay tuned for more news regarding my second short (a novelette). It’s a “to be titled” straight-faced Christmas parody, due on Black Friday. More on that story in the coming days.

I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

New Short Story Coming November 12, 2013

This month I’ll be releasing not one, but two stories, exclusively on Amazon. The first (a short story) is a character drama titled Does She Smile At Home? The second tale (a novelette) is a “to be titled” Christmas parody, due on Black Friday. More on that story in the coming days.

Plot Synopsis for Does She Smile At Home?

In the midst of his own existential crisis, a middle-aged man comes upon Dolores, a lowly grocery store clerk who never seems to smile. Confused and haunted by this woman’s poisonous demeanor, and suspecting the riddle of her existence will somehow solve his own emotional puzzle, the man follows her home to see what her life is like. What he discovers stirs him to his very core, and changes him forever.

Some Background

Does She Smile At Home? strays from my standard comforts of the thriller/sci-fi/horror genre and explores the nature of hope, depression, and social/economic struggle through an existential lens. Rich with moody characters, brisk fall imagery and thoughtful metaphor, the story is meant for those who struggle to make ends meet, but hope for a better day.

Here is a sneak peek at the cover:

SmileATHome1

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

Does She Smile At Home? will be available through Amazon Kindle on November 12, 2013. Note: You can read the story on any Kindle device or on your phone, computer or tablet just by downloading the Kindle app.

If you haven’t already, check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are now only .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.

The Horror is Out Now!

My latest, terrifying novelette, THE HORROR is now available on Amazon Kindle (BUY HERE).

NOTE: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the story. All you need is the Kindle app, which is available on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

TheHorrorCoversmaller

Synopsis: 

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them. The two lovers must attempt to escape before this crazed lunatic tracks them down and completes his grisly ritual.

Background:

With The Horror, I wanted to craft a special short story for the Halloween season, and I wanted this story to be something “balls to the wall” scary. Ultimately, The Horror was inspired by one of my wife’s worst fears: that someone inside a haunted house might have nefarious plans for the guests. While the core story of The Horror has been swimming around my noggin for close to a decade, the plot began to truly form this September, when my wife and I visited the haunted houses at Universal Studios.

The result is a haunting, atmospheric ride through a terrifying, nail-biting narrative that simply doesn’t let up. But it’s also a story designed to make you think. The Horror explores the nature of trauma and death through brutal metaphor. It examines what we really fear and how our culture deals with disaster. The story is a response to those who criticize horror as exploitation or entertainment, all while fueling a reader’s fears through thrilling set pieces, unnerving suspense, vivid description and meaningful characters.

I hope you will enjoy The Horror as much as I enjoyed writing and editing it. Keep in mind, the story is quite scary, so I would definitely recommend this one to hardcore horror readers, especially lovers of the slasher genre.

Happy Halloween!

Review: Kindle Fire HDX

I just wanted to share my thoughts on Amazon’s latest flagship reader, the Kindle Fire HDX, ahead of its Oct. 18-28, 2013 US release date.

I’ve been a lover of Amazon since the site launched. Their service is cheap, easy, intuitive and their customer service is typically excellent (from my experiences). I have been a Prime member for more than four years (get Prime, seriously) as well. So, naturally, it wasn’t difficult to fall in love with Amazon’s tablets when they launched just a few short years ago. My wife owns the original Fire tablet and I have owed the Fire HD. They are wonderful products for reading, for internet and for most games and tablet uses.

Since buying the Kindle, I find myself reading more than ever before. As a writer, I love Amazon’s text-to-speech function (and its many awesome voice options), as it quickly helps me find mistakes, grammar issues, spelling and other problems in my stories as I read along. In brief, the device is handy, portable, fun, efficient and enormously easy to use.

The new HDX isn’t a major improvement over the Fire HD, but it’s a worthy upgrade, especially for potential new buyers.

This new device is significantly faster than the previous version thanks to a quad-core Snapdragon processor. Internet browsing is vastly improved and games run a little smoother as well. The screen resolution has also been upped to 1920×1200, and looks gorgeous. And, as before, the tablet’s Dolby audio is absolutely astonishing.

The HDX is fairly customizable, so for more information regarding specs and details, feel free to hop over to Amazon, where you’ll find photos, videos and more.

The tablet’s redesign is quite spiffy. Simply moving the power button away from the volume buttons was a big improvement (power is on the opposite side now). With the old device, I continually found myself pressing the power button when I meant to press the volume buttons. That is no longer an issue. The tablet is also a little easier to hold than before, thanks to the squared design.

One negative of the new model: the mini HDMI port has been removed. But Kindle’s OS now allows users to flip what they’re watching on their tablet to your home device (like a PS3) using Amazon’s Video app. Netflix also allows users this ability. So the mini HDMI port is a bit of a wash, though I imagine some will be disappointed by this missing component.

The best aspect of the redesign is the weight. The Fire HD wasn’t a particularly heavy tablet, but for those who binge read (like me) you probably know that the tablet can wear you down after a while. The new HDX is about 30% lighter than the Fire HD, making it an easier tablet to hold for long hours. It’s also a tad smaller, too, while retaining the same 7-inch screen size.

My only major gripe with the HDX thus far has been a persistent blue border that surrounds the vertical sides when there’s a white screen present. I’m guessing it’s a reflection of the white against the black plastic surrounding the glass, but I do find it a bit distracting — far more distracting that the previous Fire or Fire HD. I’ll have to check out another HDX at Best Buy soon and see if they have this issue, too. If not, it could mean I have a defective screen. I’ll update this article as soon as I know for sure.

UPDATE 10/22/13: Amazon has now officially addressed the blue border. Here is their explanation: “We want you to know… The Kindle Fire HDX 7″ has perfect color accuracy (100% sRGB), and we wanted to share more details around our display design decisions that helped us achieve this.

You may notice a very narrow, faint blue tint around the edge of the device when looking at items with a white background, such as books or web pages. All displays have some level of light emission around the edges, and the light on the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ is blue due to the technology used to render perfect color accuracy. Most LCD displays use white LEDs, and then apply filters to extract the desired color. The result is oftentimes a compromise to tone and color accuracy, or—if attempting to address these compromises—an increase in battery consumption and, thus, device weight.

We’ve taken a different approach. To achieve the perfect color accuracy on Kindle Fire HDX 7″ at the lowest possible battery consumption and device weight, we used blue, not white, LEDs. Blue LEDs allow for a much more accurate  and rich representation of color and result in an up to 20% improvement in power efficiency.

So there you have it. It sounds like a logical response, and the reasoning is sound. Blue LEDs were used to save weight and improve battery and color accuracy. It could also be total BS, that I am not sure. I imagine we’ll hear more as the tech community dives into this statement and dissects Amazon’s reasoning. That said, I have gotten used to the screen over the past few weeks. The image display truly is remarkable, even with the blue or purple border distraction.

Back to the original review:

The HDX also includes a charger. For some inexplicable reason, Amazon opted not to include a wall charger for the Kindle Fire HD last year. Instead, they sold the charger as a separate accessory, which felt a little cheap. The HDX rectifies this problem, but creates another – the plug is too damn cumbersome, taking up two plug spots instead (on a surge protector) and nearly taking up two slots on a wall socket. It’s not a bulky plug, either. In fact, the plug looks quite similar to the Apple wall charger, except it’s larger all the way around, instead of perfectly square with a wall socket. Here’s what they look like side-by-side:

plug

It’s not a major issue, but it’s a silly design choice that’s sure to piss off some buyers.

I can’t wait to see what comes next with the Kindle readers. I’m hoping to see a tablet that has an HD (maybe 3D) screen on one side, and e-ink on the other. Perhaps that’s a pipe dream, but I’m hoping it’s coming in the next year or two. We’ll see.

For those looking for a great electronic reader that’s also useful and effective for portable gaming, media playback, video chatting and tablet uses, the Kindle Fire HDX is certainly a great option, second only to Apple (and catching up). Build quality is outstanding, the processor is quick and the redesign is great. And there’s plenty of value to be found with the tablet, like customer-friendly goodies such as Mayday, a live video customer service chat line. (I did not get to test Mayday, but it seemed quite functional.)

UPDATE 10/24/13: Mayday review … I finally had a reason to try Amazon’s latest customer service app, “Mayday,” last night. After a rather brief 30-second wait, I was connected with a rep who walked me through how to access and use Amazon’s pre-installed Officesuite. I thought the app was something you would just open, similar to other apps like Silk or Amazon Store. Rather, Officesuite has been integrated into the Kindle, which proved somewhat confusing to configure and use.

The CS rep guided me through the whole process in a timely, efficient manner. He seemed to know what he was doing and was able to give me the tutorial with ease, though he did seem a little annoyed. I’m sure this is one question he gets a lot; that and “why is my screen border blue?” I placed my Mayday call in the middle of the night, so the service may not run as smooth during the day, but I can’t knock the experience yet. It was smooth, easy to use and kinda fun. Thumbs up, Amazon. I wonder how long until Apple follows this groundbreaking system of customer service.

Back to the original review:

The HDX is not an iPad killer, but it is a pretty great competitor that stacks up well in many aspects, especially when it comes to cost and ease of use. If you’re in the market for a tablet, give it some consideration. And if you’re on a budget, I’d definitely check out the previous Fire HD. It’s still an awesome tablet.

Shameless plug time! If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 2: Favorite Books

A new week, a new list! This time I’ll be discussing some of my favorite horror books.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments!

Also, for more books, check out this list of 11 Creepy Novels.

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Legion - William Peter Blatty

10) Legion 

Legion is a sequel to William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It’s a great follow-up, though not as haunting as The Exorcist. I included it here over The Exorcist because it’s a worthwhile sequel that fans of the series should seek out. While I’m on the subject, also check out the late Gary Brandner’s The Howling series. They’re also quite fun.

Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks

9) The Zombie Survival Guide

A lot of zombie fans loved World War Z, but I’m more fond of Max Brooks’ first zombie endeavor – a step-by-step guidebook for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It’s rather funny, but also extraordinarily helpful … if one were ever to come face-to-face with the walking dead, that is.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

8) Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter Morgan’s first tale is still his best. In fact, Jeff Lindsay’s book was so good that it got turned into an award-winning TV series (that later petered out and sputtered to a tragic death, but I digress). The book is a clever mixture of American Psycho and police procedure, with a reluctant anti-hero at the helm, steering the audience in the darkest, most macabre places. Gripping, tense and awesome!

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

7) Lord of the Flies

This one might not strike you as horror, but a book about a bunch of children who slowly succumb to the horrors of their own darker instincts is ripe material for horror, and no other book does it better than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. You might have hated it when you read in school, but give it another shot. It’s outstanding.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

6) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I kept going back and forth about which book to include here: Dracula or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both books are tremendous achievements in horror, and stupendous pieces of writing to boot. Ultimately, I went with Dr. Jekyll because never before, and never again, has a book so perfectly encapsulated the duality of man. For me, that holds more water than the first vampire tale. But read both books, please.

Sphere

5) Sphere

Michael Crichton’s Sphere is one of very few books I find myself reading every couple of years. The science behind the story is fascinating, but even more chilling than the sphere itself, is the manifestations of evil we hid within ourselves. A deeply terrifying book for anyone seeking something to get under the skin, with just a dash of science to back things up.

The Stand

4) The Stand

A great many horror fans might pepper a “favorite horror novels” list with Stephen King, but I’ve opted to include only one, The Stand. The Stand was the first “big” book I ever completed (I read it when I was about 10 years old). And, honestly, of all King’s books, The Stand really, umm, stands out as a mythical tale of Americana’s survival in the face of an apocalypse. Epic stuff … and very scary. I’d also recommend It (a close second) as well.

Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark_cover

3) Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Series)

I primarily grew up on two writers: Shel Silverstein, who crafted the beauty of my youth through poems; and Alvin Schwartz, who helped shape my nightmares. But the real winner of the Scary Stories series is the artwork from illustrator Stephen Gammell. His work on these books still scares the ever-loving shit out of me. There are (crappy) versions of the Scary Story books without his artwork, replaced with toned down “kid friendly” artwork. Boo! Skip them and seek out the copies with Gammell’s imagery. It’s perfect!

Frankenstein

2) Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s staggering nightmare of death, romance and reanimation is existentially rich and still quite beautiful, not to mention frightening. It also stands as one of the finest pieces of gothic writing ever committed to paper. The only writers who come close are Lovecraft and Poe, who are also (obviously) well worth reading.

The Demonologist

1) The Demonologist

Never has a book freaked me out more. You may think Ed and Lorraine Warren are a bunch of nutters, but after reading this book, I’m not entirely convinced. The horrors they walk their audience through is immeasurably terrifying and shockingly real. It might all be phooey, but it certainly made me want to hang some crosses up in the house, and that’s power no other horror book has ever conjured from me.

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Next week: My top ten favorite horror slashers!