Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Favorite Books of 2008

A little late, but here is my list of my favorite reads of 2008. They are in no particular order, since I’ve found in the past when I order these things, I change my opinion from day to day, so they are presented in roughly reverse order to which I read them (or at least reviewed them). A couple of rules: These are books I read for the first time in 2008. I omitted favorites I re-read, and I didn’t check to make sure they were all published in 2008, so don’t e-mail me with “Kent, you idiot! The Castle of Otranto was published in 1764, not 2008.” I debated on whether to include books I had an opportunity to read but aren’t available to the general public, and finally decided to go ahead, so there are two books that you cannot yet purchase. It was a tough decision, but the other day I was lounging in the hot tub with Jessica Biel and Angelina Jolie (we had sent Jessica Alba to fetch drinks, she’s such a ditz) and Jessica No. 1 said “What’s the point of having things the little people can’t unless you rub their noses in it?” Angelina and I agreed wholeheartedly.

Ghost Walk, Brian Keene – Keene is on the top of current horror writers, and his conclusion (?) of the LeHorn’s Hollow story began in Dark Hallow was Keene at his best. Poor Adam Senft.

Invisible Fences, Norman Prentiss - Probably the highlight of belonging to the Cemetery Dance 2008 book club was getting the ARC of this novella. It should be published in early 2009. Don’t stand too close to it, or you’ll get hit with the barrage of awards it’s going to win. If I were going to rank the books of 2008, today this would be # 1.

Southern Gods, John Hornor Jacobs – Full disclosure, John’s a friend of mine. That doesn’t affect my opinion of his unpublished Southern horror novel. I read a draft form of the book, and even with some tweaking yet to be done, it is still a great book. Some publisher needs to grab this one up.

Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales, Fran Friel – If I had missed Hypericon ’08, I wouldn’t have attended Fran’s reading of one of her stories, and might not have read this collection of short stories. This would have meant I would have missed the best single author collection of 2008.

Hawg, Steven Shrewsbury – Gonzo, over-the-top sex and violence. Some people might not read this book about a mutant man-pig because they think the synopsis is too out there, but they will miss a hell of a book.

Orgy of Souls, Maurice Broaddus & Wrath James White – Two writers coming from such different places as White and Broaddus shouldn’t be able to combine to produce such a good and thought-provoking book, but they did.

Queen of Blood, Bryan Smith – 2008 was the year I discovered Bryan Smith, the next star of the horror field. The amazing thing is, he seems to be getting better.

Deeper, James A. Moore – I love aquatic-based horror, and this semi-sequel to “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” was outstanding.

House of Blood, Bryan Smith – Bryan Smith’s first book, many people think it is his weakest. Must be nice to have your weakest book be great.

Vampyrrhic, Simon Clark – It received its first hardback publication from Cemetery Dance in 2008. The most “classic” horror on the list.

Ennui and Other States of Madness, David Niall Wilson – The other great single author collection of 2008. Wilson may be the best writer working in the field of short stories now, at the very least he’s a contender for that title.

Money Shot, Christa Faust – The first book published by Hard Case Crime from a female author, this is a brand new hard-boiled classic.

The Freakshow, Bryan Smith – Have you picked up on the hints that I really, really like Bryan’s Smith’s novels? This might be his most envelope-pushing book to date.

Duma Key, Stephen King – A lot of people take potshots at Stephen King because he won’t write The Stand again. Duma Key is a mature work of a great writer, and managed at one point to break my heart. That’s not an easy trick.

A Dangerous Man, Charlie Huston – The conclusion of the Hank Thompson trilogy. If your definition of noir emphasizes a rising feeling of hopelessness, these three books might rank at the top of 21st century noir.

Crooked Little Vein, Warren Ellis – At first glance, this is a series of scenes designed to shock a reader. Those who dig deeper will realize in addition to entertainment, this has something serious to say about America and the role of power in it.

A Dark and Deadly Valley, edited by Mark Heffernan – I’m a sucker for Weird War Tales, but even if I wasn’t, this collection of stories with a World War II theme would be my favorite anthology read in 2008.

Ridicule is welcome in the comments.


1 comment:

Fran Friel said...

I'm honored to be included in such a wonderful list, Kent. Thanks so much for the kind words. They mean a lot to me.

Btw, meeting you was one of my Hypericon highlights! You're a honey.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Hugs from Snowy CT,