2016 proved to be a great year for new and exciting horror novels. The genre seems to be having somewhat or a renaissance as of late, giving readers plenty of writers old and new to be on the look out for. Whittling the shortlist down proved to be quite tricky, but nonetheless, here are our personal top 5 horror novels of 2016:
5. Hex – by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
The Blair Witch Project meets Big Brother in this very strange morality tale. It is set in a town called Black Spring, whose community have to deal with the burden of a local undead witch that wanders around where she pleases. The imagery of her mouth and eyes sewn together for a previous crime is quite harrowing, and there is always this sense of dread throughout the book that you’re not too far away from a horrific disaster happening. It’s a great read that hurls gothic fiction into the 21st century by blending traditional horror settings and themes with modern day technology and thinking.
4) The Last Days of Jack Sparks – by Jason Arnopp
The title of this book pull no punches; these are indeed the last days of Jack Sparks. Jack is an experiential journalist – think along the lines of Jon Ronson or Louis Theroux, but much more obnoxious – who is investigating the supernatural. More importantly, he is trying to disprove the supernatural. As you can expect, it’s not as straight forward as that. One laugh out loud at an exorcism and our anti-hero wishes he never began his latest study. The book is written in the ‘found document’ format, so you get to establish the character’s changes in mood and opinion as the book progresses, and you can’t help but feel the impending doom that awaits Jack Sparks.
3) The Loney – by Andrew Michael Hurley
Not all horror novels have to be out and out scary stories to be good reads, as Andrew Michael Hurley proves with his masterful tale ‘The Loney’. It focuses on two brothers, one mute, whose family and the local church congregation visit a desolate coastline shrine each year with the hope of a miracle cure. Upon their latest trip, the boys explore the coastline, known as the Loney, but find more than they bargained on. This is an unsettling and atmospheric book, which invites the reader to imagine the horrors that are subtly implied.
2) The House on Cold Hill – by Peter James
From the shocking opening chapter, the reader immediately knows that they are in for a bumpy ride, with a few twists, turns and scares along the way. A new family moves into a large Georgian mansion in the Sussex countryside, and it doesn’t take long to realise that they are not the only occupants in the house. Peter James goes back to his supernatural horror roots with this fresh take on a haunted house story that will keep you hooked until the very last page.
1) Slade House – by David Mitchell
Speaking of haunted houses, David Mitchell’s Slade House is one property that you do not want to find yourself visiting. Every nine years a ‘guest’ is invited into Slade House. At first all seems too good to be true, but then the guest quickly learns that they cannot leave. This is a creepy and bizarre novel full of vivid imagery that keeps you reading on to find out the fate of every guest. A genuinely chilling tale that is a must read for horror and fantasy fiction fans.
Are there any standout horror novels of 2016 that we may have missed out? Do you have a personal favourite? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below on any recommended horror novels.