2016 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel

The Bram Stoker Awards are awarded every year by the Horror Writers Association to writers of horror and dark fantasy.  This year the award for Best Novel went to John Langan.

The Fisherman by John Langan

The Fisherman by John LanganIn upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.  (GoodReads)

There are a number of other Bram Stoker Award categories, if you’re interested you can have a look at the rest of the 2016 winners here.

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Review: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin is the long awaited final novel of The Passage trilogy.  This epic literary journey began with The Passage followed by The Twelve and now, after a 3 year wait (or 4 years if you read The Twelve right when it was published), draws to a close with a final crescendo in The City of Mirrors.city-of-mirrors-by-justin-cronin

In The Passage and The Twelve, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity’s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon, but does silence promise the nightmare’s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? (GoodReads)

As with the previous two novels, The City of Mirrors is a well written novel of great suspense.  It has its own surprises and yet continues the story of our beloved characters.  It continues to be an epic tale of humanity in the face of extinction highlighting the human heart and spirit.

It is one of the best final books I have read.  It neatly and satisfyingly brings to a close a story that will remain a readers’ favourite for a long time to come.  The Passage trilogy really has been one of those great literary journeys that come along very rarely.

What sets this trilogy apart from others in this genre is its magnificent breadth of story which spans many centuries and Cronin’s undeniable writing skill.  To those who have read the previous novels: you will not be disappointed with this final installment.  And to those who have not yet read this trilogy: you are blessed for you will get to read this epic story from beginning to end without pause.

 

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

 

 

2013 Bram Stoker Awards

The 2013 Bram Stoker Award for Novel went to:

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantlyDoctor Sleep (The Shining, #2) riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.  On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.  Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”  Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon. (read more on GoodReads)

The 2013 Bram Stoker Award for First Novel went to:

The Evolutionist by Rena Mason

At night, down-to-earth Las Vegas socialite, Stacy Troy, dreams that everyone is dead. Nosebleeds and head-splitting The Evolutionistalarms only she can hear become a regular occurrence. In her nightmares, Stacy dismembers bodies, stuffs them into a shopping cart, then takes them two at a time to the pile where she will burn them and say her last goodbyes.  Waking nightly to her own screams, Stacy is convinced she’s on the brink of a mid-life crisis and begins secretly seeing a psychiatrist. But as eerie as Dr. Light may be, his treatments work and her circumstances improve. Until the nightmares return with a vengeance taking on a life of their own. Still uncertain what to believe, Stacy carries on living the only life she remembers. But her other, nocturnal world refuses to die. The images it shows her hold clues that lead her to a shocking discovery, threatening to unravel the last thread of her sanity and Stacy must make a heartrending decision…Before her post-apocalyptic nightmares come true. (read more on GoodReads)

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Joe Hill’s Favourite Horror Villains

Joe Hill, author of NOS4A2, lists his favourite horror villains.  We love a good bad guy so I thought I’d share this list with you but first here’s a bit more about Hill’s novel:

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2

“Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.  Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”  Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.” (read more on GoodReads)

Mr. Dark

from Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes

“A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight. How these two innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading on timeless themes. What would you do if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them. In many ways, this is a companion piece to his joyful, nostalgia-drenched Dandelion Wine, in which Bradbury presented us with one perfect summer as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he deftly explores the fearsome delights of one perfectly terrifying, unforgettable autumn.” (read more on GoodReads)

Anton Chigur

from No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men

“In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones.  One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.” (read more on GoodReads)

Abbot Enomoto

from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“In 1799, Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima, the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world. A junior clerk, his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruption.  Cold-shouldered by his compatriots, Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and, more dangerously, becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician. He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust, nor how intertwined and far-reaching the consequences.  Duplicity and integrity, love and lust, guilt and faith, cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel, which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and West.” (read more on GoodReads)

Amy Dunne

from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?  As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?” (read more on GoodReads)

Ursula Monkton

from The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.” (read more on GoodReads)

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4 Authors Reveal The Book That Scared Them To Death

I came across an article on Oprah’s website:  Authors Reveal: “The Book That Totally Surprised Me”  10 Authors were asked to pick a book that thrilled them, surprised them, or scared them to death.  I’m going to share with you the books that 4 authors said scared them to death.  First though let me share with you the book that scared me out of my wits…

WatchersWatchers by Dean Koontz

When I was in middle school (grades 6-10 more or less) I was a huge fan of Dean Koontz.  His books often terrified me but the one that not only kept me awake long after lights out in boarding school but which I couldn’t even read at night was Watchers.

From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose…Bestselling author Dean Koontz presents his most terrifying, dramatic and moving novel: The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation… (GoodReads)

Junot Diaz terrified by Dawn by Octavia ButlerDawn (Xenogenesis, #1)

“This book still gives me nightmares and teaches you right quick that no trade is ever free.”

Lilith lyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep to find herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. Creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased strength, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth–but for a price. (GoodReads)

House of Leaves

Jenny Lawson terrified by House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

“I still haven’t finished it because it scares the crap out of me. I put it in the freezer at night.”

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.  (GoodReads)

Elin Hilderbrand terrified by The Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Road

“I was terrified to turn each page, but I loved it so much, I couldn’t help myself.”

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.  (GoodReads)

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Gayle Forman terrified by We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

“Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin was both the most riveting and frightening book I’ve ever read. Spooky tales of anonymous serial killers or nuclear winters? Please. Those are nothing next to this intimate and chilling tale of a boy gone terribly wrong and the mother who witnesses it by degrees.”

Eva never really wanted to be a mother – and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails. (GoodReads)

Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve is the 2nd novel of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin and an incredible follow up to the impressive first novel The Passage (read my review of The Passage)  When I read the first novel I was taken by the proportions of the story.  It spanned many The Twelve (The Passage, #2)decades and every character would play some important role in this epic take on a post viral world.  There is a great connectedness of the characters both in the moment and across generations and The Twelve takes us back to year zero when the virus first gets out, to a time before the First Colony, and then into the time after the end of The Passage.

“At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals…”

It is another epic novel introducing us to more characters all connected to those we’ve already followed in the first novel and no doubt who will be connected to those of the third novel to come in 2014, City of Mirrors.  Cronin has once again woven a story of suspense and reveals an element of the world we came to know that we really could not have guessed at.  The plot is different and you won’t be disappointed with this book after having read The Passage but I wouldn’t recommend reading this without reading the first…you simply won’t get some of the surprises and some of the magic of it will be lost on you.  Not to mention that you won’t have a clue as to who all the people in the novel are! For those of you, like me, who read the first novel ages ago you may need a refresher on the character list which you can find on wikipedia except beware as there are spoilers in it.

Again we are privy to the hardships of this post apocalyptic world and more importantly the strength of the human spirit to go on through a desire to survive and through the love they have for their friends and families in the face of fear and loss of hope.  There’s something for everyone.  I really enjoyed reading it.

 

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

2010 Bram Stoker Award Winners

The World Horror Convention was held over the weekend in Brighton and the 2010 Bram Stoker Award Winners were announced.

Best Novel: Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan

Best First Novel: Damnable by Hank Schwaeble

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Review: Justin Cronin’s The Passage

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.” 

Epic.  I don’t use this word lightly when refering to books but Justin Cronin’s The Passage is epic in every sense of the word.  An incredible work skilfully dealing with decades and decades of events which tumble together to form a story of the passage croningigantic proportions.  I noticed this book a while back when it entered the New York Times Bestsellers’ List and not long after that the buzz began.  Initially I thought this hype was owed to the vampire subject matter but when authors like Stephen King and Terry Brooks started giving the book such high praise I realised that this story must be fresh and brilliant.  So, I got a copy and read it.  Epic.  I have not read a book so incredibly captivating in a very long time.

The Passage is extremely well written.  There were passages in the book where I laughed out loud and then there were moments of almost unbearable suspense.  Cronin is a master plotter if The Passage is anything to go by.  He has woven a story so intricate and detailed, one which spans over a century, with different kinds of characters, settings and lifestyles and he has done an incredible job.  Every word propells you forward, I like this – it is a sign of a great writer I think, when you know that every word on the page is deliberate – every word carries meaning for later events in the story.  I loved the way the story unfolded, it was done with the most avid of readers in mind in that nothing was given away too soon and nothing could be guessed really.

As for the vampire subject matter, don’t worry if you are not into the teen vamp craze and the associated reading drivel because this is nothing like any of the vamp stuff out there (specfically, it’s nothing like Twilight).  The Passage, if anything, is a plausible account of how vampirism could exist in the world and what would happen to the world if vampires outnumbered humans.  This story is not only about vampires and the terror humans go through alongside them, it’s also a story about human nature and the strength of the human spirit in the face of extinction.

As always, you’ll get no specific details here.  What you will get is a strong recommendation to read this book because it is honestly a story for everybody; men, women and teens.  It is fresh, well-plotted and very fast-paced.  Everything you want in a great book.

The only downside, I guess, is that we have to wait until 2012 for the second novel; The Twelve and until 2014 for the third; The City of Mirrors which concludes the trilogy.  Torture indeed.  Apparently the film rights have been bought so you can expect a movie soon.

For more: http://enterthepassage.com

 

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

 

2009 Bram Stoker Award Winners

The Horror Writers’ Association announced the 2009 Bram Stoker Award winners at the Stoker Banquet on 27 March 2010 in Brighton (UK).  This is the first time the stokers have been presented outside of the North American continent.  They were awarded within 8 categories; Superior Achievement in a Novel, a First Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, an Anthology, a Collection, Nonfiction, Poetry.

And here are the category winners:

Superior Achievement in a Novel
AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
HE IS LEGEND edited by Christopher Conlon

Superior Achievement in a Collection
A TASTE OF TENDERLOIN by Gene O’Neill

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
WRITERS WORKSHOP OF HORROR by Michael Knost

Superior Achievement in Poetry
CHIMERIC MACHINES by Lucy A. Snyder

For more information please visit the official blog: Horror Writers Association Announces 2009 Stoker Winners