**Each year I average between 150-200 reviews, so I like to post a list of the year’s “Best Books Read” from my personal selection of reads. These are not necessary books that were published in this calendar year (although many are), but books that I chose to read, and that left a strong impression on me–standing out from among the rest. This particular year was a tough one, as my overall count was lower, but the quality of the books I DID read seemed to include a lot of 4-5 star reads. Here are my top 25, books/novellas, followed by my top 5 Anthologies/Collections. Purchase links are available by clicking on each individual title.**
Kimberly’s “BEST BOOKS READ IN 2018”
- CREATURE, by Hunter Shea: This book stood out to me the most because of the incredible characters, the “uniqueness” of the story premise, and the fact that nearly all the scenes are still with me mentally–half a year after I read it. The novel really showcases Hunter Shea’s ability to diversify within the genre, and is probably his most “character driven” novel to date, in my opinion.
- WYLDING HALL, by Elizabeth Hand: This was a novel I purchased after reading another reviewer’s review of it. Until then, I hadn’t read anything else by this author. The book simply amazed me by how it immediately captivated my attention, and had me thinking about it–my mind going through diverse tangents of what “possibilities” could have occurred–even when I wasn’t reading it. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased a physical copy for my shelves, and instead of putting it up there, I began looking through it. I ended up sitting there and re-reading the book–in its entirety–in a single sitting. The magic I initially felt with the first read was still there. This is a story that honestly comes into my mind quite often, and I know I will be re-reading it many times in the future.
- THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, by Jonathan Janz: A complex tale by a rapidly rising star in the horror genre, this novel combines the supernatural, human evil, and great characterization to form one novel that will hit the reader from many different angles! What begins as several separate threads, eventually come close enough together to morph into one outstanding story. The second book from the new FLAME TREE PRESS line to come up on my top reads this year.
- KILL CREEK, by Scott Thomas: Just when you think you’ve read it all in the haunted house sub-genre, a book like this comes along and re-defines what you’ve come to expect. An original, memorable, and action-packed novel that I highly recommend for readers looking for that “new twist” on the haunted house story.
- RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS, by J.H. Moncrieff: Moncrieff takes the true tale of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, and creates something uniquely her own. Being familiar with the real-life story isn’t a prerequisite for reading this one, as the author gives you enough details to cover the basics. Again, this is NOT a retelling of the original expedition, but a tale all of Moncrieff’s own. There wasn’t one thing I could complain about in this book–well fleshed out characters, exceptional environment, and realistic actions that you could expect under the circumstances created. This is an author to watch for!
- FORSAKEN, by Michael McBride: This novel is the direct sequel to the author’s SUBHUMAN (my number one favorite from 2017). Here we continue the saga that started out in SUBHUMAN, but this time, in various locations around the world. A great cast of characters reassembled, and some new introductions, bring us even more mystery and intrigue into what was set into action in the first book. I highly recommend both books in the series, and anticipate the final one to complete the trilogy. You simply can NOT read a book that’s less that “great” by this author!
- THE CREATION: Gods and Man, by The Behrg: This is the third, and final, novel in The Behrg’s Apocalyptic trilogy. I have to admit that the Apocalyptic sub-genre is usually a hard-sell for me, but this one really stood out! The characters behaved in “true-to-life” roles, as you would expect by their introductions. As the story progressed, so too did the characters evolve in a “natural” manner to accompany these changes. The conclusion was absolutely PERFECT, in my humble opinion, and something so unique to this genre that the entire series STILL stand out in my mind. Reading order for this one is: THE CREATION: Axis Mundi, followed by THE CREATION: Let There Be Death, and finally THE CREATION: Gods and Man.
- A STORYTELLING OF RAVENS, by R.H. Dixon: This was only the second novel I had read by this author, and already I can tell this is another one to watch out for. The sheer originality of the tale–very much psychological horror with a mix of visceral, and omnipresent terror of the unknown–force the reader to pay attention to every minute detail, and try to piece together the pieces for themselves. A new “style” of writing that I very much enjoyed!
- WE SOLD OUR SOULS, by Grady Hendrix: A simply amazing tale of Rock and Roll music that holds so much more . . . With Lovecraftian undertones in some places, complete originality in others, and some dynamic characters, this was a 2018 release NOT to be missed by fans of horror!
- SCAPEGOAT, by James Newman and Adam Howe: This book had a little of everything. Starting with some comical characters, human nature in all forms, dark forces, religious zealots, superstitions, dark humor all throughout, and even some natural human emotions–this is anything but your usual story. This is one wild ride that you simply have to read to believe! If you like your horror mixed up with several different elements, you won’t want to miss this.
- PLAGUE OF GULLS, by Stephen Gregory: Available as a signed hardcover, this atmospheric tale is one that subtly gets under your skin. A series of accidents, combined with the coincidental appearance of a baby gull, show you how quickly humans are to establish an unrealistic relationship between unconnected events. The author’s prose is simply beautiful. If you like horror that slowly amps up throughout the whole of the novel, you’ll want to give this one a try.
- THE SWITCH HOUSE, by Tim Meyer: This is a novel I bought based on the recommendations of other reviewers. I went into it without expectations, and it simply blew me away with the depth of emotion that I felt afterwards! An “unconventional” type of horror that will stick with you long after you finish!
- SICK HOUSE, by Jeff Strand: Anyone familiar with Jeff Strand’s style will know that even in his dark horror novels, there’s going to be just as much dark HUMOR, as there is HORROR. That’s one of the reasons I loved this novel. It has all the necessities for a violent, compelling horror novel, with an unapologetic dose of dark humor laced all throughout. You WILL laugh (perhaps inappropriately) during the reading of this book, and that’s only one of the things that make it such a stand-out.
- THE CARROW HAUNT, by Darcy Coates: In a market that has just about every kind of haunted house style book out there, it takes a lot to rise above the rest. THE CARROW HAUNT does just that. I honestly feel that it was the characterization that played a large part in my inclusion of this one. However, when it came down to it, there were so many “little touches” that stood out to me and made this book not only memorable, but one I know I’ll be re-reading in the future.
- BLANKY, by Kealan Patrick Burke: I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read anything that I’ve given LESS than a Five-star rating to, written by this author. Even in novella form, his words have the power to hold you in their grip until the very last page. You will experience every emotion possible in the span of these 73 pages. After I finished this, I was able to see just how perfectly everything fit together here. A novella NOT to be missed!
- THE DEVIL’S FINGERS, by Hunter Shea: Book Three in his “One Size Eats All” series, this novella incorporates a group of friends out on a special camping trip. What they come across will leave you literally speechless with horror! This one will keep you from wanting to get out in nature for a quite some time to come.
- THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Paul Tremblay: This novel took me by complete surprise. What begins with a little girl playing outside a cabin on a summer vacation, quickly turns into one of the most haunting novels of the year! The story starts out with more dialogue than “understanding”, but that’s part of why this one really stood out. When things begin coming together, you’ll find yourself wondering about ideas you never even thought of before.
- RATTUS NEW YORKUS, by Hunter Shea: This is Book Two in Shea’s “One Size Eats All” series. The novella is a creature feature that takes carnage on to a whole new level for the inhabitants of New York city. Full of gore, emotion, and dark humor, this is a fast read that I found pure “fun”.
- SACCULINA, by Philip Fracassi: This was my very first read by Philip Fracassi, and it was so well done, that I quickly went out and purchased three more books by him. If you like horror on the sea, complete with “inexplicable” creatures, you will absolutely LOVE this novella.
- LINDEN MANOR, by Catherine Cavendish: This story had so much atmospheric charm to draw me in initially. Nothing was rushed, and each new revelation led me to more questions. I’ve really enjoyed this author’s writing style in the past, and this “haunted” gem was no exception.
- DEVIL’S ISLAND, by Mark Lukens: What I thought at first was going to be just another haunted island tale, quickly made me realize that this one was indeed unique in many aspects. There were so many distinctly “new” elements in this tale, that I found myself carrying it with me everywhere, so that I could continue to read on. A great twist to a haunted origin!
- CRAVEN MANOR, by Darcy Coates: Darcy Coates has certainly proven that she can write haunted house novels, but how she is able to come up with such consistently GOOD and DIFFERENT styles is astonishing to me. This is one in which I feel the characters definitely make all the difference. While it ended on a completely satisfying note, I’d still love to see something in the future with some of these characters and settings!
- BEHIND THE DOOR, by Mary SanGiovanni: This novel is the second to feature the author’s paranormal expert, Kathy Ryan. With its Lovecraftian overtones, setting, and characters, there really wasn’t anything I felt it was lacking. While Ms. Ryan’s past is still enigmatic, she plays a strong role in this story, and paves the way for appearances in future novels.
- PREDATORS, by Michaelbrent Collings: This is another novel that took me completely by surprise this year. Michaelbrent Collins reemerges onto the horror scene with this story of very REAL predators. While we all expect the human kind, there is another out there that shows its true claws . . . An emotional, shocking novel that will take you on twists you’ll never see coming!
- EMERGENCE, by R.H. Dixon: This author was quite a discovery for me this year! After reading one novel by her, I quickly purchased her other two horror novels–both of which made this list. Her novels contain a high amount of psychological horror infused with physical, emotional, and often supernatural, terror. I really enjoy her unique writing style, and original plot ideas. This is one author that is on my radar for anything else she has published in the future.
**ALL HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!**