Today marks World Book Day and what better way to celebrate than to recommend a few of our favourite books to you. With that said here are some of our top staff picks.
An underrated, almost forgotten haunted house story. Short, tense, terse and terrifying. It’s as good as Stephen King’s The Shining, but offers a much more original take on the material. The prose purrs, the plot is fascinating and the characters are fully fleshed out so that we care what happens to them. A classic.
A very recent addition to my all time favourites, this features an almost-bankrupt independent documentary maker who is hired to make a film about a notorious cult – The Temple Of The Last Days. It sounds too good to be true and once filming starts, things begin to go very, very wrong. Nevill takes this basic idea and really ramps up the suspense from the first set-piece (an image of ‘something’ is captured in an abandoned video camera) right through to the climax, using a meticulously created history, from Irvine Levine’s book ‘Last Days’ and featuring the absolutely terrifying Blood Friends and the awful Unholy Swine. A thoroughly gripping read that managed to keep even this jaded reader on the edge of his seat.
World War Z by Max Brooks
In a sub-genre overrun by stereotypical characters, well worn plots and predictable endings, Max Brooks’ ambitious and original mix of fact and fiction stands out as the exemplary piece of zombie fiction. Brooks beautifully portrays the individual trials that survivors of a zombie outbreak faced and shows a knack for making even the most mundane situation compelling. An absolute genre classic.
Possibly the single most influential novel in 20th century horror fiction. It is the wellspring (for good or ill) from which the modern zombie genre, and much apocalyptic fiction, was born. That alone should attest to its importance. It’s also one of the best books about a man alone since Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
A sublime collection of short stories with several that stick in the mind long after reading. A broad range of themes and styles hit every emotion from love and longing through to revulsion and anger. Standouts include ‘Pop Art’, ‘Last Breath’, ‘Abraham’s Boys’ and the story that gives the collection its title.
Part autobiography and part advice manual that offers up no-nonsense practical advice shorn of the pretentious bells and whistles so many of these writing guides seem to be littered with. I challenge anyone to read the passages about his mother passing away or his accident without a lump appearing in your throat and a tear in your eye.
A tale of an 18th century psychopathic student of medicine who takes sadistic delight in causing pain in young ladies, and who becomes involved in the world of faeries and goblins. The writing is sharp, the anatomy stuff is spot on, and there’s a terrifically authentic atmosphere to the entire endeavour.
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
I was first introduced to The End of Alice by my This Is Horror colleague, John Costello. This hard hitting and utterly compulsive book follows the correspondence between two paedophiles; one who is serving a long-term prison sentence, the other who has just started grooming a little boy. The tough subject matter is treated with the utmost respect and realism. The sense of pacing and plot is spot-on and the underlying thread of tension just keeps building and building and… Well, you’ll see. Homes described it best when she said, “The idea is you read a bit – throw the book across the room – get up and get it and read some more.”