Horror fiction fans, which book next?

I had read a few short stories from Richard Laymon in horror anthologies and decided to give one of his full-length books a try. I’m reading Blood Games right now and I’m getting close to the end. Which title should I pick up next?

I’m also a fan of Jack Ketchum, but I’ve read all of his stuff so far.

Any authors similar to these two that I should check out?

I don’t know those guys, but have you tried Bentley Little? I like The Store and Dispatch, haven’t read much else by him. How about F. Paul Wilson?


I’ve only read one Laymon – I think the title was One Rainy Night or One Dark Night. It was a fun story about rain that turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Braaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiins!

I suppose you’ve read all the usual suspects – King, McCammon, Straub, Simmons, etc.?

I don’t read much horror anymore – it’s gotten way too graphic for me. I liked early splatter punk (Skipp & Spector) but a little goes a long way.

With the exception of King, I’ve only ever read short stories by any of the other authors you mentioned. Any favorite titles from them?

Give Joe Hill a try. He is Stephen King’s son and his book Heart Shaped Box was quite good.

What pbbth said. Hill’s short story collection – 20th Century Ghosts – is excellent. My favorite is Pop Art, about an inflatable boy and his friend.

Are you looking for short stories or novels? Simmons, Straub, and McCammon have written some shorts but I’m more familiar with their novels.

For short stories, I’d recommend George R. R. Martin’s Sandkings collection, or Songs the Dead Men Sing. Joe Lansdale and Dennis Etchison write good shorts, and I prefer Clive Barker’s shorts to his novels, esp. the Books of Blood.

Or pick up any of the Datlow-Windling Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Stephen Jones’ Best New Horror, Dark Voices, Dark Terrors, Charles Grant’s Shadows, David Schiff’s Whispers.

Classic must-have horror anthologies: Dark Forces, Dark Descent, and The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural.

Oh! I almost forgot my favorite! Feesters in the Lake by Bob Leman. Get that one, fer shure. Guaranteed good read.

The first Bentley Little novel I ever read was University, and oh my Gawd was it frightening! The premise was original as all hell, too. So I sought out a bunch of his other books…and was dreadfully let down, to tell you the truth. It seems to me like he comes up with great ideas, but doesn’t quite make them work. My point, if I have one, is to recommend that you find a copy of Little’s University as quick as possible, because it is definitely worth it, and then move on to…oh, Michael McDowell, say.

MM died sometime in the 1980s or early '90s, but not before writing several incredibly scary (and often slyly funny) paperback horror novels. There’s The Elementals, which is not particularly violent for a horror story, but really creepy, with that sense of “people facing the ineffably inimical” you find in Algernon Blackwood’s better stuff. Then there’s Cold Moon Over Babylon, which works as seamlessly as a classic EC comics revenge tale, and my favorite, The Amulet, a blood-and-sweat-soaked Southern Grand Guignol with an ending you won’t see coming. He also did a couple of horror/historical-novel hybrid period-pieces, Katie (almost straight-up horror) and Gilded Needles (more of a horrific crime novel set in 1890s New York City). The books were published way back in the '80s and thus may require a little searching around for, but they’re *well *worth the effort.

You know who else wrote a couple of good’uns? John Farris, that’s who. He has also written a lot of stuff that …well, let’s just say it doesn’t work for me. But *All Heads Turn When The Hunt Goes By

  • and *Son Of The Endless Night *are both excellent - terrifying and beautifully written, too.

One more I’ll go out on a limb and recommend is Tap Tap by David Martin. There’s really nothing I can say about it, mind you, because it is just that weird, but…it’s scary. I dug it. I read lots of horror fiction.

Oh man, those are excellent suggestions. I’d forgotten all about Michael McDowell. His Blackwater books are great too.

I’m glad you mentioned David Martin. He’s been a favorite for a long time. He writes all over the map – literary stuff as well as thrillers. He even wrote an animal rights/romance that made me cry – Crazy Love. The only disappointment was a polemic about our mistreatment of Native Americans – Facing Rushmore. His most recent book is post-apocalyptic – Our American King. In addition to Tap Tap, try Lie to Me, Bring Me Children and Cul de Sac.

Another book that scared me was Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco.

It Came From Schenectady, by Barry Longyear, is actually SF, not horror, but some of these stories are just chilling. Longyear has figured out that literary trick of dropping the hammer on you really well (think The Shining: “YOU FORGOT THE BOILER!!”)

Cuckoorex, I think you’re the one that turned me onto Ketchum and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Gracias. I haven’t found anyone I like as well as him. However, I do keep trying. :slight_smile:

Since your obviously a fan of stronger stuff though, I’d recommend giving Poppy Z. Brite a shot. I like the settings in New Orleans and she’s pretty intense. Thus far, my favorite has been Lost Souls, although the entire rest of her readership seems slavishly devoted to Exquisite Corpse.

Good luck on finding something new, and if you decide to give her a chance, happy reading!

Awesome, thanks!

Thanks to the others for your suggestions as well, I’ll read and report back later!

I still love Clive Barker, even though I feel that he’s delivered disappointingly lately. (bring out a new one Clive, nothing need be forgiven)…

BTW what are you doing up so late, Cuckoo?

When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom is actually two short novels: the title piece (a subtly nasty piece of work, concerning a young woman who gets lost in a cave) and its companion, *Beauty Is… *which is both utterly ghastly and totally heartbreaking at the same time – I read the book in the late 1980s, and there are parts of Beauty Is… that I still can’t forget.

For intense short stories, I can’t recommend David Schow highly enough, he’s that damned good. And he’s even got a Web site (which I’m feeling far too lazy to look up and link to for you just now, sorry) where you can read some of his work for free!

John Shirley is best known for his work in the field of science fiction, but he’s written some real effective horror too – try his novel Demons, and the short story collections Black Butterflies and Living Shadows. His story “Cram” made up my mind for me once and for all, on a subject I’d been waffling about for years – I ain’t NEVER taking BART through the goddamn Transbay Tube again, not if I can help it anyway, for as long as I live!

Then there’s Joe R. Lansdale. The man is God, that’s all there is to it. He’s written many, many excellent book and short stories in the realms of both crime and horror.

Finally, if you like reading big, brutal, and breathlessly adrenalinized epics which ride the line between crime-centered horror and horrific crime fic so hard it cuts into the reader’s ass, I give you {the pseudonymous} Mr. Michael Slade. He’s written a series of novels mostly involving two redoubtable Canadian lawmen, Zinc Chandler and Robert LeClerc, whose duties lead them into a vast sprawling interconnected sequence of international bloodbaths that spans decades. Ghoul, Headhunter, Cut Throat, Hangman, Burnt Bones, Bed Of Nails, Crossbones, and Evil Eye – all exciting as hell, all gloriously sadistic, and all over the top. NB: I am so not kidding about the graphic nature of these novels-- they’re ultra-violent and uber-vicious, by turns gross and hilarious and absolutely nightmarish, and so far from politically correct (at either end of the spectrum) that it ain’t even funny. We’re talking about the prose equivalent of thrash metal here, with the volume turned up to 11.