Hope you all enjoyed Christmas and had a happy new arbitrary-moment-in-time-the-same-as-any-other, and all that.
Another vintage year for all things imaginative and ghastly, and it was tough to whittle a mere top 10 from the heap. There’s a couple of works here that spilled over from 2010 – too many books, not enough hours – but nothing older than that. So here they are in no particular order, and you can click on the title of the first 8 for a thorough review.
- “Do Not Pass Go” by Joel Lane A beautifully produced, sturdy little chapbook of addictive crime fiction. I was right there in the city streets, drifting through the garbage, cigarette smoke and darkness. Brilliant.
- “Push of the Sky” by Camille Alexa A relaxing pleasure to read, this is an impressively colourful fantasy/sf collection, and a real melting pot of styles and subgenres. She’s a talent to watch.
- “Weirdtongue: A Glistenberry Romance” by D.F. Lewis A book that seems to divide its critics like Marmite. Thick with wordplay, outrageous characters, layers and textures, I found this oft-baffling linguistic art piece to be a real treat.
- “End of the Line: An Anthology of Underground Horror” edited by Jonathan Oliver Just in case you needed more reasons to dislike travelling on the tube. An impressive line-up run wild with the concept, leaving a host of unpleasant, lingering memories.
- “Angels of the Silences” by Simon Bestwick A modern and alternative ghost story full of humour, horror and pathos. “Bestwickian” is a phrase that should have caught on by now.
- “Where the Heart Is: A Guided Tour of British Horror” edited by Gary Fry And what a chilling yet elegant tour that is. Some of Britain’s most interesting horror writers don’t disappoint in what was certainly my favourite anthology of the year.
- “Fearful Festivities” by Gary Fry Being a bit of a bah-humbug when it comes to things sentimental and twee, this is my kinda Christmas story. Intelligent, creepy and character driven. With claws.
- “Ill At Ease” by Stephen Bacon, Mark West & Neil Williams A truly faultless ebook featuring 3 equally memorable, macabre and highly polished tales. There are even clowns to upset any fellow coulrophobic masochists.
- “Dark Matter: A Ghost Story” by Michelle Paver Journal-style writing at its best, this evocative Arctic ghost story reminded me of how much fun it is to be actually scared by a book.
- “It Knows Where You Live” by Gary McMahon Very glad I bagged one of this limited-edition collection, in which the lights are turned down from the start. And then swiftly off. Rumour has it that the author’s underpants are made of Countess Bathory’s shroud, and his shadow cries in its sleep.
And although it’s only a short novella download, special mention also goes to “Butterfly Winter” by Weston Ochse, a breathtaking and beautifully written tale of war and human nature that still haunts me months later.
And there it is. There’s plenty of supernatural in the list, which isn’t always to my taste, so thanks to the authors for reaffirming my love of the spooky. It’s too difficult to pick an overall winner, so I’m going to cop out and just leave it at top 10. Which was tricky enough itself.
Keep reading and writing in 2012, folks.