Damn near everyone else has put up a “best of 2009” list of some sort, so why not me? After all, I’m important. I know that all of you look to me and my reviews on horrornews.net so that you know what to read next. I owe you this, and, as a beneficent overlord, shall provide. In the interest of brevity, I’ve kept my list down to my favorite books from this past year. My criteria was simple: if I remembered it well enough without having to pick it back up and thumb through, then it must have made an impact on me and is therefore worth consideration. If you want to know more about one of these fine products, then feel free to look up my review on the previously mentioned website as I am too lazy to bother linking them here.
Dead of Night: Devil SlayerSlayer by Brian Keene:
This was certainly my favorite graphic novel of the year, a classic storyline brought back to life in a thoroughly modern context and sensibility. Yes, we’ve got the creation of a superhero and yes, there are tons of demons getting their asses handed to them. This is to be expected. What made this series so special was how well the styles of both the artist and the writer (Keene) complemented each other. Both took a simple, lean approach that gets the hell out of the way of the story. Because of that, there are no great, quotable lines or iconic, full page scenes but there is a hell of a story, steeped in the sense of personal tragedy Keene is known so well for.
A Writer’s Workshop of Horror, edited by Michael Knost
I wear many hats in my geekly domain: dorky fan of all things horror, Literature and English teacher and occasional planter of word-farms. This book managed to single-handedly give all three aspects of my personality the kind of wood that is usually reserved for the combination of my wife, Switchblade Symphony and a marked lack of clothing. There is no reason for any writer of any genre to not own this, as it is about as comprehensive as you can get. The teacher in me loves the way each section is designed around specific topics of interest and import, practically drawing out lesson plans for me. Most importantly, the drooling fanboy was in awe at the opportunity to look into the minds of some of my favorite authors and incredibly impressed with the easy, conversational and entertaining style.
Chimeric Machines by Lucy Snyder
Yep, I’m a poetry nerd too. At the same time, who can deny the power, glory and utter amusement of a talent like Lucy’s, eh? She had already floored me with the now classic Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, but I had no preparation whatsoever for this. Erudite yet accessible; emotional, yet intellectual; witty, yet gut-bustingly funny. Oh, and there are a couple REALLY filthy little numbers to be found here as well. I had a poetry prof a few years ago who told me that there were no truly great poets any more and I wish I knew where to find him so I could shove this book down his throat.
Malpractice, edited by Nathaniel Lambert
The first anthology put out by one of my new favorite magazines, Necrotic Tissue, kicked its way screaming into my brain tissue. I tend to prefer anthologies with some type of common element to tie the stories together but this one goes one step further by having its entire medical horrors take place within the same hospital. That little touch turned what would have been a nearly flawless collection into something that felt more like a single tale as told my several tellers. One of the few antho’s I’ve read that did not have a single unenjoyable story present.
Dead America by Luke Keioskie
In a market flooded with walking, shambling, obnoxiously similar corpses, Dead America blew me the hell away. It isn’t a survival/siege tale, it doesn’t outline the end or near-end of humanity and the neccers present are not naturally cannibals. Instead, this is a detective story of the Sam Slade variety that just so happens to be centered in a world where the dead get up a few hours after expiring and go back about their unlife. Dark, dreary but not quite nihilistic, this is a wonderful, wonderful work. Without a doubt, one of the treasures of the year.
Near misses: Devil’s Marionette by Maurice Broaddus, Under by Bradd Quinn and Mama Fish by Rio Youers