I thought I would try to get this in before we are so far along in 2011, everyone forgets 2010 existed. Rather than try to rank the books from 1 to 10 like I usually do, I’m just going to go with a list of honorable mentions, then the top book. All of this is just my opinion, of course. I would also like to say that I tend to read books when I get to them, which is often well after the publication date (and sometimes before it), so my favorite book of 2010 may be something I’ll read in 2017, if the world doesn’t end in 2012. There is a bit of uncertainty on my part as to when some books came out, and I’m trying to stick with books published in 2010, not ones I got to in 2010. I don’t know if Norman Prentiss’ Invisible Fences, a favorite book of mine, was published last year or not. I think I first got to read it back in 2008. If it is a 2010 book, it should have been a contender, but I think I picked it as my top book of 2008, so I arbitrarily excluded it this time.
One thing that might be mildly controversial: everyone talks, of course, about how the heart and soul of the horror genre is the small press. I read a lot of small press publications, and they put out a lot of good things, but this year, the books I enjoyed most were published by the traditional big publishing houses. I have an opinion concerning that which I hope to put down in writing someday soon.
First the honorable mentions. This year seemed to be a year in which vampires, at least part of the time, stopped sparkling and came back to the dark side. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan published the second part of their Strain Trilogy with The Fall, and Justin Cronin kicked off a trilogy with The Passage (review to come), a book that enjoyed a considerable boost from Stephen King. Peter Straub returned with the lyrical A Dark Matter. Stephen King published one of his periodic collections of four novellas in Full Dark, No Stars (review to come), which I thought was one of his strongest offerings in years. I enjoyed all these books quite a bit, and they mostly feature familiar names, and all come from big publishers. Perhaps I’m becoming more conventional, but I thought the books showed a generally higher quality of effort, and almost universally a stronger attention to editing, the great bugaboo of most of the small press.
My favorite book of 2010 is not from a familiar name, although it was a large mainstream publishing house. Australian author Stephen M. Irwin’s book The Dead Path hit all the right chords with me. The book, which told of a young man returning home to confront his childhood fears and a manifestation of The Green Man, heralded the arrival of a major new talent, in my opinion.
There you have it. The usual disclaimers, this is my opinion only, does not represent a scientific study, and no animals were harmed in the writing of this post.