Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Book Should I Start The New Year With?

Christmas morning was pretty exciting for this horror fan. First my little brother gave me a streaming video player for my TV, and an external hard drive with fifty B horror movies and several seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. Second my parents had nearly thirty used horror novels waiting beneath the Christmas tree when I woke up, my mother having used an Amazon wishlist that I had created during the fall to easily order a selection of titles she knew I would enjoy. Now, however, I have a dilemma: I don’t know which book to read first. I’ve narrowed it down to five choices, my fingers pretty much choosing a title from each of the authors I opened. Here they are:

The Pet by Charles L. Grant:

My introduction to Charles L. Grant was with his first Oxrun Station novel The Hour of the Oxrun Dead, and while I wasn’t really all that impressed by the book I decided to read more by the author due to all the praise he has received over the years by other authors that I love. Given the enjoyment I have now gotten from his works, all of them Oxrun Station novels, I’m glad I decided to continue reading him. I have also grown curious about his other stand alone tales, all of which I have heard great things about. The Pet is one of those stand alone tales (if everything I have read about it is correct). Because of this, and because of the description on the back which sounds exciting, I am eager to read it. I would also love to get my hands on some of the anthologies he edited and am looking forward to diving into the two The X-Files novels he penned: Goblins and Whirlwind. The only downside to enjoying Grant’s work is the knowledge that there is a limited selection of titles, therefore I am pacing myself.

Torment by Stephen R. George:

My first experience with the novels of Stephen R. George was with the title Nightscape, which I loved. After that I read Grandma’s Little Darling, which, sadly, didn’t really work for me (I loved the first half but found the second half lacking). One less than satisfactory read is not enough for me to call it quits with an author, however, especially after enjoying one of their books; therefore I added every Stephen R. George book I could find to that Amazon list. Four of those titles were waiting for me come Christmas morning: Torment, Bloody Valentine, Brain Child, and Dark Miracle. Of those four Bloody Valentine is the one I am the most eager to read, but, given the title, I’ve decided to hold off on it until February. From there I narrowed down the next three choices to Torment both because the description on the back sounds intriguing and because I really like the cover. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. I think it’s time we all admit that we do this. If readers didn’t there wouldn’t be countless examples of authors who have had failed novels suddenly spring to life once the cover art was changed.

The Monastery by J.N Williamson

Many, many years ago while in high school I read a J.N. Williamson novel in pretty much one sitting, yet for the life of me can not remember what the title was. I also don’t remember what the novel was about, not because it was unmemorable, but because I was reading two to three books a week back then. Actually I was reading so many books that some of my teachers told my parents I was reading too much. In this day an age I’m guessing that the amount of times a teacher has made such a complaint can be counted on one hand. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to read more J.N. Williamson novels but never really came across any in the used bookstore I frequent, and always forgot to search his name was making a mass order from Amazon. With The Monastery all this will change. Even if I don’t enjoy this one -- though based on the description and what others have said about it I think I will -- more of his titles will be appearing on my bookshelf in 2012. By the way, if anyone has any suggestions on titles by J.N. Williamson that I should look for, please speak up. I love seeking out suggestions by readers of this blog.

Watchers in the Woods by William W. Johnstone

Believe it or not most of the titles I received on Christmas morning were from an author I have never before read: William W. Johnstone. I also have never really heard much about him in the blogging world or from other horror novel fans. At some point, however, I must have added all of his books to that Amazon wishlist because nine of them were waiting to be opened that morning. I’m sure the covers had something to do with this. When adding books to an Amazon wishlist one is given several suggestions based on what other people have bought. Needless to say most of those suggestions are by the same author as the one being added, and given how eye catching the covers were (to me at least) I must have just checked them all off. Now I just hope I like the writing within those covers. If not I will still read them all, but I’d rather do this with enjoyment than with disappointment. Who wouldn’t? Of all the William W. Johnstone novels I received Watchers in the Woods had the most intriguing description -- I always love stories about campers in the woods being stalked -- thus I selected it a first read of 2012 contender. Anyone out there ever read any of the novels by this author? If so which ones would you recommend?

Puppet Master by Barry T. Hawkins

Like the author above I have never before read anything by Barry T. Hawkins. Unlike the author above I only received one novel by this author, that being Puppet Master. I have no memory of adding this novel to the wishlist, nor any memories of reading anything about the book or this author in the blogging world. At some point the cover must have caught my attention, however, so I added it. Even if that wasn’t the case the cover certainly caught my attention on Christmas morning and therefore it has ended up in the choices of first reads for 2012. Another reason for it ending up in this selection is the title. As mentioned during my review of Child’s Play by Andrew Neiderman last year, I love finding novels that have the same title as classic horror movies, especially when the book and movie have nothing to do with each other. Having read the description, Puppet Master falls into that category. Now I just hope I like it better than the novel Child’s Play. As always if anyone has read this book or this author please feel free to share your experiences either as a comment below or as a guest post. Both are always welcome.

So, there you have it. Of the near thirty used horror novels I received on Christmas morning, these are the five titles I have narrowed my selection down to. I have no idea which one to read first. Not listed within the authors above were also several F. Paul Wilson and Joe R. Lansdale novels. Both of those authors fall into my favorite authors category, but were not added above because I have already decided upon the time and place where I will read those novels. Many thanks for helping me decide, if anyone comes forward. If no one does I will just randomly select a title once I finish with the non-horror novel I am currently reading.


Josh Caporale said...

All of these books like interesting. Have yet to read any of them, but would have to look into them. Johnstone mainly wrote westerns, thus horror is him attempting something different.

William Malmborg said...

I noticed a lot of western novels under Johnstone name when I did a search of him on the Goodreads site. I wasn't sure if it was the same writer or just two writers with the same name. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Hm, my vote is for Puppet Master. It's the cover, really, how could you NOT want to read that one straight away??

William Malmborg said...

I do love that cover. It kind of reminds me of a Goosebumps book kids used to bring to class when I was little, one that always gave me a chill.

Will Errickson said...

I'm currently wondering the same thing! My vote goes to Charles L. Grant.

William Malmborg said...

I do enjoy Charles L. Grant, and the description sounds really good. It will be fun to break away from the Oxrun Station novels for a while. I love / hate when the choice is so hard. Which books are you choosing between?

Will Errickson said...

Maybe A MANHATTAN GHOST STORY by TM Wright, GREELEY'S COVE by John Gideon, BAD BRAINS by Kathe Koja, RAPTURE by Thomas Tessier, LITTLE DEATHS ed. by Ellen Datlow, and DARK ADVENT by Brian Hodge.

William Malmborg said...

Nice list. I haven't read any of those yet, however, having looked at them on Amazon just now my vote would have to go toward DARK ADVENT by Brian Hodge and GREELEY'S COVER by John Gideon because I loved the covers displayed.