3 great horror novels published in 2020 (so far)
Updated: Oct 5
Well, here we are, headed into the fourth quarter of the year 2020 and, well, I think we can all agree this is a year we will want to forget as fast as we can. In case you've been in a coma all year, we all jumped in with hope that things would be great, and the world turned upside down. The first real pandemic of the modern world hit and, here we are.
It's been tough to find something to be happy about, but the good news for you fans of horror, is that three titans in the horror novel world have published three amazing novels of horror. These authors are part of the new vanguard of horror, but all have created stories which were unique, compelling, heartbreaking, scary, thrilling and entertaining.
I am skipping Stephen King's novella collection, of course. It was excellent, but at this point he is such a master of the genre we're almost past the point of recommending his work. If you are a fan (as I am), then he work is amazing all the time even when it't not his best. The worst of King is better than the best of so many out there.
So, we're skipping Kings work and going with these three novels. I highly recommend all three and present them in no particular order.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. Jones has been around for a while, but this was the first novel of his I have read. It will not be the last one. A tale that manages to do something truly amazing in the world of horror - tell something unique and different. At its heart, this is a revenge story. It's also a ghost story, but it manages to be both of those and yet neither of those. This is a tale steeped heavily in Native American myth and legend to tell a tale of revenge I cannot possibly explain without spoiling the whole novel. I can only tell you that it manages to be scary and haunting. I will not forget this one in a while, plus, he created an entirely new and different sort of "monster" for this one. There's humor, compelling characters, a fast-paced story and plenty of gore added for good measure.
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay. Paul Tremblay has a way of getting right to my heart. He's like the priest in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and he starts saying "Kali Mahhhh!" and holding his hand over my heart from the first word. I then just hold on waiting for him to finish ripping my heart out of my chest. He also has a knack for taking familiar horror tropes and turning them on their heads. In his brilliant A Head Full of Ghosts, he looked at the demonic possession story and turned it upside down and inside out. His recent A Cabin At the End of the World tackled both the secluded cabin and apocalyptic horror. For Survivor Song, well, you just hold on to your seats. Although written well before our current pandemic, this story involves an international virus which has created a kind of "super rabies." It reacts much faster and more violently than standard rabies. The world is on lockdown, and masks, distancing and everything else is in play. However, the infected do what people suffering from rabies do - they go mad and they try to bite to continue the infection. Get it? Kind of like a zombie tale, but not. Throw in a pregnant woman, her doctor friend and a mad scramble to try and save someone infected and it's a read that you'll blast through as fast as you can turn the page. Then, Tremblay finishes his "Kali Mahhh!" and ends up ripping your heart out. Again.
Malorie by Josh Malerman. Josh Malerman has come on like a thundering heard in horror. He created a sensation with his apocalyptic tale Bird Box which became a huge Netflix movie in 2019. I loved the novel and then loved even more his follow up - Black Mad Wheel. Now, he returns in this sequel to Bird Box and somehow manages to pick up the vibe, feel, sensations, horrors, thrills, chills and suspense of the first one and then sends it into all new directions. A bit of a travel novel, but not in the way you might think. This time, Malorie and her children set out to find her parents on a dangerous journey filled with terror. Also, there's a blind train! A blind train! Suspense and horror lurks around every corner and then there's a dazzling, brilliant and satisfying ending. Another tale which will thrill you, scare you and keep your heart pounding with how fast it moves.
Of course, the horrors of real life manage to out-do all of these, I know. This is why horror fiction is so amazing and so important. It breaks you away from the real-life horrors and lets you relax, forget the fight, and travel along the rivers of imagination with three of the strongest writers in the genre right now.
Check them out now. Oh, and be sure to pre-order my new collection of horror novellas - At Dawn, Before the Cold - which arrives Halloween 2020.