The horror genre is in fine fettle at the moment. In fact, I can’t remember a time when the work being produced has been more wide-ranging, inventive and exciting. This is not only due to the fact that established names like Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Tim Lebbon, Joe R. Lansdale, Adam Nevill and Stephen Volk are continuing to produce excellent work, but is also because a huge influx of new writers has ensured that if the genre was a bar or a club, then it would be the coolest, most vibrant place in town in which to hang out.
Some of the genre’s newer writers seem to have become instantly successful, and it’s wonderful to see the likes of Josh Malerman’s BirdBox, Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, Catriona Ward’s Rawblood, Nick Cutter’s The Troop and The Deep, and Sarah Lotz’s The Three and Day Four on sale in supermarkets and piled up on promotional display tables in Waterstones.
What’s also heartening is that writers who have been around for a while, their work illuminating the small presses and gaining praise, honours and fans along the way, now seem to be breaking through into the mainstream too. Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and his previous award-winning novel A Head Full of Ghosts have just been published by Titan Books, Bracken MacLeod’s Stranded is just out from Tor Books, and the excellent Rio Youers will have a novel called The Forgotten Girl published by St Martin’s Press in June 2017 (incidentally, if you can get hold of a copy of Rio’s short novel Westlake Soul, published by ChiZine, then do so – it’s sublime).
Surely it won’t be too long before brilliant writers like Nathan Ballingrud, Ray Cluley and John Langan also get the same treatment? Nathan’s North American Lake Monsters (Small Beer Press) is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in recent years; Ray Cluley’s superb and versatile work has been collected in Probably Monsters (ChiZine); and John Langan has followed up his excellent collection The Wide, Carnivorous Sky (Hippocampus Press) with an equally excellent novel The Fisherman (Word Horde).
One of the most exciting developments in the genre in the past decade or so has been the emergence of a huge number of superb female writers. Sarah Pinborough and Alison Littlewood are now well-established names, and Nina Allan, Angela Slatter, V.H. Leslie and A.K. Benedict (not to mention some of the writers I’ve already mentioned) have recently broken through with novels of their own, all of which – Nina Allan’s The Race, V.H. Leslie’s Bodies of Water, Angela Slatter’s Vigil and A.K. Benedict’s first two books The Beauty of Murder and Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts – are not only terrific reads but also demonstrate how multifaceted the genre can be. Watch out too for a plethora of great short fiction writers who are yet to tackle the long form – in particular Priya Sharma (her brilliant story Fabulous Beasts recently won the BFS Best Short Fiction Award), Thana Niveau (whose first collection From Hell to Eternity was published by Gray Friar Press), Lynda E. Rucker (who has published two collections, The Moon Will Look Strange and You’ll Know When You Get There) and Laura Mauro, whose story When Charlie Sleeps, published in the magazine Black Static, still haunts me.
The peril of an article like this, of course, is that you’re bound to forget people or leave people out – or there may be great writers out there you simply haven’t yet had chance to read. For instance, I’ve been hearing great things of the likes of Michael Wehunt, Kit Power, James Everington and Jeremy Robert Johnson, but I confess I’m yet to read their work. I will, though. Soon. I promise.
Mark Morris is the author of the Obsidian Heart series — The Wolves of London, The Society of Blood and The Wraiths of War — and three movie novelizations, all published by Titan Books. For more on his novels and writing, be sure to check out his website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.
The Wraiths of War was published last week. Here’s the synopsis:
Alex Locke is desperately trying to hold onto the disparate threads of the complex web of time he has created. He travels to the First World War, living through the horrors of trench warfare in order to befriend a young soldier crucial to his story; then to the 1930s to uncover the secrets of a mysterious stage magician. He moves back and forth in time, always with the strange and terrifying Dark Man on his heels, gradually getting closer to uncovering the true nature of his destiny with the obsidian heart.