In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
Today’s recommendations are by Michael Rowe. Michael Rowe is an award-winning journalist and literary nonfiction writer. He created and edited the critically acclaimed horror anthologies Queer Fear and Queer Fear 2, has written numerous short stories, and published two horror novels: Enter, Night and the recently released Wild Fell.
If you’re like me, when you find a magnificent horror novel, you tend to keep it around. My shelves are groaning with the books I’ve read over the years that have stayed with me. Unlike most long ago loves, however, the books are always there, waiting for you with open arms when you find yourself wistfully reminiscing, especially on a stormy night when the power goes out and the house is lit with candlelight and shadows. Among the books I’ve loved are two particular favourites, one old and one new, shared here.
- Bernard Taylor’s Sweetheart Sweetheart is a classic English ghost story I read when it first came out in 1977, and a book that I have reread several times in the interim between then and now, and which has influenced my aesthetic as horror writer and as a reader. In many ways it’s a classic haunted house story set in the English countryside. It concerns problematic homecomings and the inexorable, deadly power of the past to assert itself into the present in order to settle old scores through supernatural agency. The vengeful ghost at the heart of Sweetheart Sweetheart is one of the most finely wrought examples of female supernatural malevolence in 20th century horror fiction, and I imagine that Rosa Blackmore, the ghost in my novel Wild Fell, owes more than a passing nod to Taylor’s influence. There’s a reason why the late Charles L. Grant, himself a master of “quiet horror,” picked Sweetheart Sweetheart as one of the 100 greatest horror novels.
- My favourite horror novel of 2013 was, hands down, The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice. The author of four New York Times bestselling thrillers, Rice made his supernatural debut this year with a southern gothic tale which, among other things, is about the potential effect of the annihilating rage of thwarted love. In Marshall Ferriot, the novel’s handsome, sociopathic antagonist, who acquires the power to completely and utterly take over the minds of his victims to devastating effect when he becomes infected by a mysterious parasite deep in the Louisiana bayou country, Rice has created the most terrifying sort of monster possible—the kind whose darkness is entirely hidden from view until things—and people—start to die around him. True to literary roots, Rice flavors The Heavens Rise with the mysterious disappearance of an entire family and the hunt for answers, as well as with a dash of social commentary on race, class, and gender. But make no mistake, The Heavens Rise is a ne plus ultra horror novel, a beautifully written one I’m not ashamed to say gave me a nightmare or two.
Stay tuned for the next post where we get more reading recommendations!