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Monday, December 19, 2016

Horror Maiden's Top Twelve Books of 2016



 

 

With 2016 coming to an end it's time to look back on the past year. It's been a busy one here at Horror Maiden's. I've reviewed around 125 books, and interviewed some great authors. Narrowing down my favorites this year was extremely difficult, it was an awesome year for horror! I had to put a one book per author on this list, otherwise we'd be here until June just talking about these phenomenal books. If you're looking for a fantastic book to read or as a present for the groovy horror fan on your Christmas list any of these would be a fabulous choice. I hope that your holidays are filled with love & laughter! See you next year,,,

 
 
 

 

 
12. The Final Cut by Jasper Bark

 
 

"Some stories capture the imagination, others will be the death of you."

In an East London lock up, two film makers, Jimmy and Sam, are duct taped to chairs and forced to watch a snuff film by Ashkan, a loan shark to whom they owe a lot of money. If they don’t pay up, they’ll be starring in the next one. Before the film reaches its end, Ashkan and all his men are slaughtered by unknown assailants. Only Jimmy and Sam survive the massacre, leaving them with the sole copy of the snuff film.

The film makers decide to build their next movie around the brutal film. While auditioning actors, they stumble upon Melissa, an enigmatic actress who seems perfect for the leading role, not least because she’s the spitting image of the snuff film’s main victim. Neither the film, nor Melissa, are entirely what they seem however. Jimmy and Sam find themselves pulled into a paranormal mystery that leads them through the shadowy streets of the city beneath the city and sees them re-enacting an ancient Mesopotamian myth cycle. As they play out the roles of long forgotten gods and goddesses, they’re drawn into the subtle web of a deadly heresy that stretches from the beginnings of civilization to the end of the world as we know it

 

The Final Cut is a very dark and twisted story. It is both uncomfortable and intriguing, showing you things you don't want to know about but leaving you unable to stop turning the pages until you reach the end. Read the entire review HERE
 
 

 

Buy The Final Cut
 


 

11. Cadaver Dog by Doug Goodman
 

 

 

Training a dog to track a zombie is like training a cadaver dog or a bomb dog. It takes patience, trust, and the right dog-and-handler team. And to not be afraid of zombies. When Angie Graves is approached with the idea of training a dog to track zombies, she thinks this is a bad idea. She has worked all kinds of dogs, including cadaver. But she needs a different dog for this line of work, and the only one available is a rescue named Murder. The problem is, Murder is nothing like a hero dog. He is scarred emotionally and physically. He is slow to trust, has a mischievous mind, and obsesses over his chicken toy. But if he and Angie can learn to work together, they may be able to solve the riddle of where the zombies come from, and why they are snatching up people.

 

Cadaver Dog is a gripping novella, I didn't want to put it down. It's rare that a zombie story gives us something beyond the usual end of the world scenarios but this book delivers a whole new, and chilling take on how zombies are created. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy Cadaver Dog
 

 

10. A Living Grave by Robert E. Dunn

 

 


 

The first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…



BODY OF PROOF


Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.

The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bootlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…

 

A Living Grave is quite possibly the best book I have read by Robert E. Dunn so far. The story is both heartbreaking and beautiful. The twists and turns in the story kept me on the edge of my seat until the entirely satisfying ending. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy A Living Grave
 

 

9. Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet by Adam Howe
 


 

 

Reggie Levine, ex-boxer turned bouncer, and hapless hero, has barely recovered from his ordeal in Damn Dirty Apes, when he is called back to action. Recruited to retrieve a Chinese crested terrier from a fleapit roadside zoo, where the ugly effing showdog has been mistaken for the chupacabra, Reggie soon finds himself embroiled in a deadly criminal conspiracy involving neo-Nazi drug smugglers, a seedy used-car salesman, a wannabe serial killer, an ornery Vietnam veteran, a badass veterinarian, a freakishly endowed adult entertainment donkey named Enrique, and in an explosive cameo, an Academy Award winning Hollywood icon.
 
From Adam Howe, writer of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Black Cat Mojo, and the winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, comes another hard-hitting slice of pulp Southern crime, 80s action, pop Americana, and pitch-black comedy.
 
Damn Dirty Apes is available as part of the Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet Collection, available at Amazon and many other online retailers.

Fans of 80's action movies, donkey's, chupacabra's, Nicholas Cage, or just fabulous writing will find a lot to love in this one! Read the entire review HERE


Buy the Book
 
Amazon            Barnes & Noble
 

8. Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe
 

 

 

The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong?

 

Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call "chasing ghosts," he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone.

 

Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him.

 

Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined.

 

Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.


 

 

Chasing Ghosts takes the backwoods, inbred cannibal out of the realm of cheese and turns it into a genuinely terrifying tale. This story is bloody, violent, and fantastic for horror lovers who aren't squeamish. Read the entire review HERE
 

 
Buy Chasing Ghosts
 

 

 
7. Obsidian Tears by Doug Lamoreux & Daniel D. Lamoreux

 



Mother Earth is crying. Yellowstone is dying.


New troubles are stacking up like cordwood for Chief Ranger Glenn Merrill, as Yellowstone’s existence is threatened by earth tremors and an imminent super-volcano. After a series of gruesome deaths claiming animals, tourists, and a ranger, it’s clear that something’s gone terribly wrong at the nation's oldest national park.


But putting an end to these mysterious deaths is more than just the chief ranger’s job — it may be his end.


Obsidian Tears plunges Glenn, his Shoshone friend, an aggressive young seismologist and an Arapaho healer into a world of Indian mysticism. Will man and nature join forces, or risk losing all of humanity to an ancient evil?

 

This is the kind of book that sucks you in until your surprised when you look up to find that you're back in the real world. Filled with intense action, sparkling dialogue and terrifying scenarios the story moves along at a super fast pace and keeps you hooked on every word. Read the entire review HERE
 
 

Buy Obsidian Tears
 

 
 

6. Apocalypse Machine by Jeremy Robinson

 

 

THE HUMAN RACE STARTED THE SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION ON EARTH. A chain of subglacial volcanoes erupt in Iceland. The melting ice floods the countryside. Poisonous gas descends on Scotland. A tsunami devastates the Norwegian coastline. An ash cloud rises into the atmosphere, blotting out the sun across Europe, ushering in a new Ice Age. Dozens of nuclear power plants, flooded by ocean water, experience meltdowns. Millions perish. Many more are displaced. All on the first day. On the second day, a series of earthquakes moving in a straight line, reveal the presence of something massive, walking across the landscape. Concealed by a thick, radioactive ash cloud, the ‘aberration’ heads west, toward Russia. Abraham Wright, a science writer for Modern Scientist, who wants nothing more than to be reunited with his family, finds himself at the center of the United States’ response to the crisis. Under his new title as Assistant Science Advisor to the President, Wright is sent to Europe with a team of Army Rangers, where he uncovers the truth about the ancient behemoth laying waste to the world: there have been five mass extinctions on planet Earth, and the aberration has been present at each. On the third day, the world fights back. And loses. Separated from his family by continents and oceans ravaged by countless disasters and populated by strange new life, Wright struggles to survive in an evolving world. Hoping to uncover the key to mankind’s redemption, he fights for answers, and to reach his loved ones—before the human race’s extinction. THE APOCALYPSE MACHINE WILL FINISH IT. Jeremy Robinson returns to the Kaiju Thriller genre he popularized with the largest Kaiju to ever appear in fiction: the Apocalypse Machine. Bursting with all the epic action, desperate struggle and complex characters that readers have come to expect, Robinson takes the world to the brink once more, pitting humanity against the greatest threat he has yet to conjure, and asking the question: Does humanity deserve to inherit the Earth, or is our time up?

 

Apocalypse Machine is an apocalyptical Kaiju thriller. The story grabs you from the very first page and doesn't slow down until the completely satisfying finale. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy Apocalypse Machine
 


 


 

5. The Awakening by Brett McBean
 



 

Welcome to the small Midwestern town of Belford, Ohio. It’s a quiet, friendly town. On one corner of Main Street you’ll find Barb’s Corner Store. Opposite you’ll see the town square, with its neatly trimmed lawn and statuesque gazebo. There’s everything you need here. There’s even a local bogeyman. You know the type: reclusive, looks a little strange. The person all the kids are afraid of. Every town has one. Except this one is stranger than most.


Meet Mr. Joseph. With his severely crooked neck and nasty facial scar, the old man from Haiti is the one resident all the kids whisper about and are scared to go near. But there are things about Mr. Joseph no one knows about. He has no heartbeat. No breath passes by his lips. And he has been dead for over ninety years.


It’s summer vacation and fourteen-year-old Toby Fairchild is looking forward to spending a lazy, carefree summer playing basketball, staying up late watching monster movies, and camping out in his backyard with his best friend, Frankie.


But then tragedy strikes. And out of this tragedy an unlikely friendship develops between Toby and the strange old man across the street, Mr. Joseph. Over the course of a tumultuous summer, Toby will be faced with pain and death, the excitement of his first love, and the underlying racism of the townsfolk, all while learning about the value of freedom at the hands of a kind but cursed old man.


Every town has a dark side. And in Belford, the local bogeyman has a story to tell.

 

The Awakening is a coming of age horror tale with a twist. Far more horrifying and sympathetic than the shambling dead that want to eat you and far less horrible and terrifying than some of the people you'll find here. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy The Awakening

 

 

4. The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

 

 


 

THE LEGEND LIVES



Everyone knows the legend of the Jersey Devil. Some believe it is an abomination of nature, a hybrid winged beast from hell that stalks the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey searching for prey. Others believe it is a hoax, a campfire story designed to scare children. But one man knows the truth...


THE DEVIL AWAKES

Sixty years ago, Boompa Willet came face to face with the Devil—and lived to tell the tale. Now, the creature’s stomping grounds are alive once again with strange sightings, disappearances, and worse. After all these years, Boompa must return to the Barrens, not to prove the legend is real but to wipe it off the face of the earth...


THE BEAST MUST DIE

It’ll take more than just courage to defeat the Devil. It will take four generations of the Willet clan, a lifetime of survivalist training, and all the firepower they can carry. But timing is critical. A summer music festival has attracted crowds of teenagers. The woods are filled with tender young prey. But this time, the Devil is not alone. The evil has grown into an unholy horde of mutant monstrosities. And hell has come home to New Jersey...

 

The Jersey Devil is a gore spattered thrill ride through the Pine Barrens. Hunter Shea deftly combines the legend of the Jersey Devil with edge of your seat action making this an adventure that I found impossible to put down. Read the entire review HERE



 

 
Buy The Jersey Devil
 

 

 


 

 
3. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

 

 

A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.

 

He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.

 

For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes—always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.

 

A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story— funny, bloody, raw, and real—told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.

 

Mongrels is a coming of age horror story with teeth. Filled moments that will break your heart and others that are terrifying and bloody this unconventional werewolf tale gets under your skin. Read the entire review HERE

 


 

Buy Mongrels
 

 

2. Hunter Of The Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski

 

 

Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.


Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.


The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

 

Hunter Of The Dead is a throwback to when vampires were monsters, not sparkly emo teenagers full of angst. This book is chock full of bloody, violent action and enough witty dialogue to keep me glued to the pages with a maniacal grin on my face until I finished the last page. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy Hunter Of The Dead
 

 

1. Children Of The Dark by Jonathan Janz

 

 

Will Burgess is used to hard knocks. Abandoned by his father, son of a drug-addicted mother, and charged with raising his six-year-old sister, Will has far more to worry about than most high school freshmen. To make matters worse, Mia Samuels, the girl of Will’s dreams, is dating his worst enemy, the most sadistic upperclassman at Shadeland High. Will’s troubles, however, are just beginning.


Because one of the nation’s most notorious criminals—the Moonlight Killer—has escaped from prison and is headed straight toward Will’s hometown. And something else is lurking in Savage Hollow, the forest surrounding Will’s rundown house. Something ancient and infinitely evil. When the worst storm of the decade descends on Shadeland, Will and his friends must confront unfathomable horrors. Everyone Will loves—his mother, his little sister, Mia, and his friends—will be threatened.


And very few of them will escape with their lives.

 

Children Of The Dark is hands down the best book I've read this year! It has set the bar extremely high for all of the books that will follow. Filled with characters that are easy to care about and non-stop terror, I couldn't put it down. Read the entire review HERE
 


 

Buy Children Of The Dark