Now, I’m not into extreme gore or sexed-up horror, just the good old-fashioned unexplained, unexpected, whoa-I-though-you-were-dead! kind. Things that go bump in the night. Why is that wall dripping blood? I do love a good Stephen King and 70s-80s classics by the likes of Thomas Tryon or Peter Straub, but I've broadened my reach over the time to include a diverse group of writers who have added new layers to the genre for me.
So in the spirit of the season, here’s a list of my best horror/thriller reads over the past couple of years. I won’t give you a synopsis of the stories, maybe just a side-note or two:
The Good House by Tananarive Due. Listen, if you’re not reading horror/thriller stories by African American writers, you are missing out on some of the best storytelling on offer. Due is amazing. This one blew me away!The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell. “If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won't be leaving here.”
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole. Another wonderful African American storyteller. Still has one of the most evocative sentences ever written: “I stopped myself before I stepped on that particular Lego of regret.” Ouch!
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Ah, there’s nothing like a crumbling Georgian house, gardens choked with weeds, and a clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine to get the heart pumping!
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. When Black folks write horror/thriller stories, there’s usually an added element of the particular horrors they face daily just by being Black. Read and learn. But mainly enjoy creepy-great storytelling.Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due. A collection of short stories, most of which I wanted turned into to full blown novels. Due pulls me along, and I just want more. Love her writing.
The Village by Caroline Mitchell. Another one by Mitchell. Where did the Harper family go?
Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce. Short stories full of ghostly apparitions, many involving the effects of post-Civil War US, by a noted American journalist. Wasn’t sure I’d like these tales, but full marks for creepiness. Of course, the biggest mystery of all: whatever happened to Ambrose Bierce? (Look it up.)
Okay. I have a lot more, but you should find something here to keep you up at night.