My Five Favorite Horror Novels

Today I received an email from Centipede Press, a publishing company that specializes in publishing limited amount of books in the genre of horror, science fiction, and crime; the books are beautifully illustrated and designed. There are a few Centipede Press books in my library. In the newsletter, there is a list of Williams F. Nolan's top horror novels. After reviewing the list and concurring to quite a few of the titles, I realized some of my favorite horror novels were not mentioned, so here is my top five favorite horror novels (for now). 

Valisa's Top Five Favorite Horror Novels

Richard Laymon The Traveling Vampire Show
Stephen King Pet Sematary 
Bentley Little The House
Anne Rivers Siddon The House Next Door
H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau

Williams F. Nolan's Top Horror Novels (Listed In No Order)
William Hjorsberg Falling Angel
Richard Matheson I am Legend
Stephen King Salem's Lot
Stephen King The Shining 
William Golding Lord of the Flies
Davis Grubb The Night of the Hunter
Thomas Harris The Silence of the Lamb
Thomas Tryon Harvest Home
Robert Marasco Burnt Offerings
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House
Theodore Sturgeon The Dreaming Jewels
Thomas Tessier Fog Heart
Peter Straub Ghost Story
Cornell Woolrich Night Has a Thousand Eyes
Poppy Z. Brite Exquisite Corpse
Fritz Leiber Gather Darkness
Fritz Leiber Conjure Wife
Franz Kafka The Trial
William F. Nolan Helltracks
Joe Lansdale The Nightrunners


Bentley Little's 20th Anniversary Special Limited Edition of The Mailman

I gleefully clasped an indistinguishable brown box, and there was no dread to see the mailman. Inside, carefully packed was the book I had ordered many months ago from Cemetery Dance, Bentley Little's 20th Anniversary Special Limited Edition book, The Mailman.

A prominent horror writer known for his catchy novel titles, original sensational story plots, Bentley Little is also know for the novel Stephen King was carrying in 1999 when he was struck by a vehicle. He was not carrying The Mailman, but The House. Nevertheless, acquiring a signed hardcover limited edition is a splendid addition to my book collection in particular my horror collection. Little's 1990's books were only published as a softcover, and later published in hardcover as a book club edition and UK edition.

Cemetery Dance is selling two publishing states: signed hardcover limited edition of 1000 and deluxe signed lettered edition of 52 hardcover with tray case. Both editions are currently available.


Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep is an exceptional debut novel by S. J. Watson. It is an international bestseller and the movie rights has been bought by producer, director Ridley Scott, recognized for producing Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, and Body of Lies. Substantiating, it is a book that will captivate readers.

Nevertheless, before investing invaluable time into a novel, I invariably read a sample of a book, at least the first chapter. Most novels recently publish novels, provide a chapter or two for prospective customers. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both have a feature that provides a peek inside the book called See Inside and Look Inside.

Before I Go To Sleep is an epistolary psychological suspense novel. Christine an amnesiac who is unable to retain her memories narrates it in the first person perspective. As the day ends, Christine must sleep, which is when her memories are effaced leaving her dependent on Ben. Her journal entries reveals and associates her past igniting flashbacks causing her to question what she has been told by Ben and question her own beliefs.

Through Watson descriptive sentences conveying a women's bewilderment, it is easy to empathize with Christine. Although she is a dynamic character, at times the story seems to be repetitious and slow paced, but possibly this approach is used to illustrates and coincide with her amnesia.

If this premise brings to thought the movie 50 First Dates, it does share the similarity of a protagonist with amnesia, but Before I Go To Sleep is suspenseful and eerie. It is a page turner with tension building slowly and a concluding revelation.


Nocturne by Syrie James

By Syrie James

I have never read any of Syrie James books before Nocturne, which is her fourth novel. Los Angeles Magazine calls her “the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” Her previous novel Dracula, My Love refashioned the beloved characters Dracula and Mina Harker, and her first two novels weave a fictional story of the eminent authors Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. Unlike her other novels Nocturne is based on original characters.

At Borders bookstore, I noticed Nocturne on the shelves of the horror section. Reading the front flap of the book, it appeared to be a romance, but since it has a supernatural element, to my dissatisfaction, it is designated to the horror genre. There is nothing frightening about Nocturne.

In a romance only two people are necessary, and there is only two characters in this short story told by the female character. Love flourishes after Nicole car spins out of control trying to get home in a blizzard on a desolate Colorado mountain. She is saved by an attractive, mysterious man, who is discontent to have a houseguest. In time, Nicole and Michael hearts thaw as they uncover similar interests. Sexual tension burgeons, but is that enough when Michael’s identity is revealed?

I would recommend Nocturne as a fulfilling sentimental, short love story on a cold night. Cuddle up to a warm fire or a soft blanket, and know, that love heals.


It by Stephen King (25 Anniversary Special Edition)

Lazily reading in bed on an overcast Monday morning, my phone chimes. The distinct chime is a notification that I have received an email. Grabbing my phone and swiping, I become excited when I glimpse on the subject from Cemetery Dance Publication, "It by Stephen King Limited Edition". Cemetery Dance Publication makes beautiful limited edition books for the horror genre. I knew that this was an opportunity to add a signed book by Stephen King to my book collection, and it is not just any book; it is It!

I rush to my Macbook. Go to my email account and I click on the link provided. To my alarm, Cemetery Dance Publication website is taking long to load. I get an error message page. Uneasily, I utter, "What is going on?" After numerous refreshing, about twenty-five minutes, I was able to preorder a copy, the deluxe oversized hardcover signed limited edition. Only 750 will be printed, and it cost $475. The deluxe oversized hardcover signed letter edition is sold out; only 52 will be printed, and it cost a steep price of $2000. The slipcase oversize hardcover gift edition is unsigned costing $125, and only 2750 will be printed. The books should be shipped this fall. 

This is a great opportunity to own a signed Stephen King novel.


The House Next Door

The House Next Door
By Anne Rivers Siddons

Anne River Siddons is a contemporary writer better known for her fictional novels set in the south. However, her second novel The House Next Door is an exceptional story for the horror genre. It is said to be one of Stephen King’s top ten favorite horror novels. Any book Stephen King mentions as noteworthy I heed and read.

There are so many haunted house novels on the shelves of bookstores waiting to be plucked, but with limited time, it is necessary to distinguish the remarkable from the trite. Indeed, The House Next Door is an original story with a shocking revelation. Envision a haunted house; labyrinth of dark passage ways, stain glass windows, dusty ornate Victorian furniture, creaky floors that moan in pain is the conventional image of a ghastly house that bring dread to its occupants. Fear creeps into the hearts of neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy cause by a beautifully modern constructed home on a lush greenwood plot. The house is alluring, bright, illustrating the promise of a foundation to start a family, to sustain a family, but the house preys on weaknesses to achieve its ultimate goal, bleeding the happiness out of people; soon that will not suffice its desires.

It is obvious that the story is dated circa 1970s. For instance, there are no mobile phones. Social norms are apparently different giving a snapshot of the life in an affluent society of do-gooders. Siddons draws the reader into the world of the Kennedys. Mrs. Kennedy, Col narrates, informing the couple’s status quo and their psychological lucidity that dwindles in the peering eyes of their coequals.

Throughout the story, I ponder what is the cause for the house to have a baleful presence. It is this constant inquiry and the unfolding of dreadfully sexually charged events in each part of the book that kept me reading. The end is surprising and alarming that ultimately answers my question.

In 2006, The House Next Door was adapted to a television movie for the Lifetime network. It has received mix reviews. I have not seen it, but as many novels adapted to film, there has been significant changes to the plot. It will be airing on June 29th, at 6 p.m. on Lifetime. 


The Art of Tim Burton

Director Tim Burton is known for his dark and eccentric films such as Beetle Juice, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attack, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, and Sweeney Todd to only name a few. His most recent directorial work Alice In Wonderland is in theaters. Although his films are more prominent, Tim Burton is an illustrator, painter, and photographer. In 1997, he published a book of illustrated poetry titled, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories.

The Museum of Modern Art (Moma), in New York City, is temporarily exhibiting many of Burton’s private artworks. The collection spans over 40 years, before the inception of his career to demonstrating the conceptualization of his distinguished characters in the apexes of his career through doodles on notebooks and napkins, sketches on drawing pads to canvas paintings. The exhibit includes movie costumes, figurines, movie posters, and video clips. For more detail information on Tim Burton’s temporary exhibit visit Moma, and online exhibit is available for viewing.

Concurrent to the exhibit inception, a book was created through garnering Burton’s artworks, making it a comprehensive presentation of the innovative mind of Burton with narratives from personal friends. Many of the illustrations are displayed in Moma. However, this book is not sold in Moma or popular websites. The book can be purchased at Steeles Publishing. There are two editions standard and deluxe, differing by deluxe edition including a cloth slipcase, hand signed inside cover, and a limited edition (of 1000) signed lithograph. Currently, the deluxe edition is sold out, but I was fortunate to receive it as a Christmas gift. Recently on ABE, I saw one copy selling for over $1000; it originally sold for $299. It is an exquisite book to own for a Tim Burton fan.