Saturday, February 26, 2005

Top 100 Horror Novels

This is a list picked by Stephen Jones (never heard of him) and Kim Newman (movie critic and novelist). It's fairly contentious. I wouldn't have included Macbeth at all. The greats are mentioned of course- Poe, Stoker (twice) and of course the bizarre Lovecraft. Ray Bradbury is at 55 (the list is in chronological order which is a bit of a disappointment- it's always fun to rant and rave about lists like that) with the collection, The October Country. Not with Something Wicked This Way Comes, one of the most beautifully written books I've had the pleasure to read. Outrageous.

There are also some pretty strange picks for authors who did make the list. Clive Barker comes in at 95 with The Damnation Game, but that isn't a patch on his short stories collection The Books of Blood. The same applies to Robert McCammon (99) who is credited with Swan Song. It's a good book sure, but it's not in the same league as some of his earlier works. They Thirst, for example, is a classic over-the-top vampire tale with the undead in LA. I must have read that book a dozen times when I was younger. If you're at all interested in the horror/vampire genre do yourself a favour and go read it. It's surely his best work. Or they could even have picked his Nazi zombie submarine The Night Boat or the alien invader story Stinger, which I'm very fond of. Or even the WW2-set werewolf spy thriller the Wolf's Hour, which sounds ridiculous but which is actually very good fun indeed.

One book I was glad to see in the list is F. Paul Wilson's The Keep. Set in WW2 it concerns a detachment of German troops occupying a keep deep in the Transylvanian Alps where they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil. Though it was also made into a movie (by Michael Mann no less, and starring Ian McKellan, Gabriel Byrne and Scott Glenn), do yourself a favour and read the book instead. It's one of the best modern horror stories I've read, very good indeed. Another of his works which might appeal is The Tomb which features a great character, Repairman Jack, and is a superb thriller with some wonderful monsters. In fact, the more I think of it, the more I have to recommend this book. It's an action packed Boy's Own type adventure with it's roots in British Empire India. This is the sort of book the term "rollicking good read" was made to describe.

All in all I think it's a pretty good list, as it covers pretty much all the horror writers of influence- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arthur Machen, M.R. James, to name but a few- and it leaves very few out. Brian Lumley is one of the few writers I can think of who doesn't show, but should, for his Necroscope series.


Pete Kahle said...

The list is in chronological order, which is why The Damnation Game is #95

Jay.Mac said...

Yeah, I know but my point was not that it was at 95 but that I'd rather have seen the superior Books of Blood occupy that spot instead.

Any missing you'd have liked to see on the list?

Anonymous said...

books of blood is in volume two, another 100 best books.