Riffle Editor Picks: The 15 Best Horror Books of 2014
This is my end-of-the-year pick of the 15 best horror books published in 2014.
Selecting just 15 of the best horror books published this year was surprisingly hard. I spent days narrowing a long list down and I still feel like I left books off that deserved to be mentioned.
This just goes to show you that 2014 was a tremendous year for horror. You'll find a variety of different kinds of horror fiction represented in the list below. I think this list speaks volumes to the health of a genre which is often cast in serious doubt.
I'm pleased that my book list has a number of books written by women as well as those by men. I'm disappointed in the lack of African-American authors and that is mostly my fault.
I read a lot of horror books this year (more than any other year -- ever) but I didn't really go looking for any author in particular or any type of author. So they're mostly white guys and gals.
In 2015, I'll do better. I'll read more small press books and seek out more diverse authors. I want to try and read more foreign horror in translation, too.
The first fifteen book in this list are the best picks for 2014. But the value doesn't end there as I include a few books that may not qualify for the best picks but deserve to be mentioned. You'll find them at the end of the list.
So there you are. My picks. What do you think? Did I miss any? Feel free to leave me a note in the Discussion section below the list.
For a very different perspective on the best horror of 2014, check out this book list:
This book list is now complete -- no more titles will be added. Published 1/6/2015.
Updated 8/28/2017 -- updated the book list post.
This is the fourth book by Christopher Buehlman (Berkley, hardcover, October 7, 2014), and this one deals with vampires. These are not cuddly angst ridden vampires. These are monsters and if you're looking for a bloodbath, this is your book.
1 / 18
Kim Newman (Titan Books, trade paperback, October 7, 2014), comes at us with a haunted house story. This is a subtle horror story where the house slowly strikes at the weaknesses of its inhabitants but the Naremores, as dysfunctional as they are, aren't going down without a fight.
2 / 18
Dave Zeltserman is not new to horror but this book (Overlook, hardcover, October 15, 2014), is a slight departure for him. Henry Dudlow sees demons who are masquerading as humans and it is up to him to stop them. But he is only a teenager. This tale is less horror and more humor and mystery. Definitely it is representative of the lighter side of horror.
3 / 18
Stephen King published two novels in 2014 and the first one to see print, Mr. Mercedes (Scribner, hardcover, June 3, 2014), could be argued that its not really horror. It's the story of a serial killer and the hunters who try to track him down. Nothing really supernatural but then Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris wasn't supernatural either and yet it won the Stoker Award in 1988.
4 / 18
Tim Lebbon presents a horror, thriller and science fiction mash up in Coldbrook (Titan Books, trade paperback, April 8, 2014). Zombies . . . alternate universes . . . technothrillers . . . In opening a passage to other worlds, scientists discover one ravaged by zombies which proceed to spill out into our world. This is not good news, folks.
5 / 18
Earning an "Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014", The Three by Sarah Lotz (Little, Brown and Company, hardcover, May 20, 2014), is an effective horror novel about three children who survive when four airplanes crash at the same time on the same day. Are the children innocents? Or do they serve a darker purpose? Do not look for easy answers in this complex story.
6 / 18
Wikipedia says nyctophobia "is a phobia characterized by a severe fear of the dark". Christopher Fowler's latest novel (Solaris, trade paperback, October 7, 2014) is a strange haunted house story. Hyperion House lies half flooded in light and half shrouded in darkness. Callie and Mateo move to Hyperion House. Soon, Callie's teenage nyctophobia returns, along with the feeling that she is not alone in the house.
7 / 18
The Boy Who Drew Monsters (Picador, hardcover, October 7, 2014), may be the best title in this book list. This literary horror novel focuses on ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan who suffers agoraphobia since nearly drowning three years earlier. He spends his time drawing monsters -- unfortunately the drawings are beginning to terrorize the townsfolk who see them.
8 / 18
At long last, Anne Rice returns to the vampires that have made her so famous, especially everybody's favorite anti-hero, Lestat (Knopf, hardcover, October 28, 2014). Listed an "Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2014" this book will be popular as fans have waited years for a new Lestat story.
9 / 18
Musician Josh Malerman's debut novel (Ecco, hardcover, May 13, 2014) is about the end of the world, although you can't see it. It is a unique and chilling end, and all your questions will not be answered but the important ones will.
10 / 18
I love the symmetry of placing the two bird books together. However, other than sharing a strong psychological perspective, they aren't much alike. Born in Ciechanów, Poland, Ania Ahlborn is now living in New Mexico writing acclaimed horror novels including "Seed" and "The Shuddering". This may be a "ghost story" or a psychological suspense story -- or possibly both.
11 / 18
Here is another debut novel (Sourcebooks Fire, hardcover, August 5, 2014) , this time from Philippines resident Rin Chupeco. She puts a unique spin on the vengeful ghost story. Over 300 years ago, Okiku died. Since then she has wandered the world, claiming vengeance upon killers and freeing the souls of their victims but now she faces something that cannot easily be dispatched.
12 / 18
M. R. Carey is also known as Mike Carey, comic book writer and author of the Felix Castor series (which I love). In this special end-of-the-world book (Orbit, hardcover, June 10, 2014), Carey pulls more than one slight of hand trick to keep you guess what is really going on. I've rarely seen such word of mouth publicity for a horror novel outside of a Stephen King novel. But this one is worth reading.
13 / 18
Here is one -- Nick Cutter seems to be a debut author with this book, except he has published under the name Craig Davidson. Whatever the case, this horror novel (Gallery Books, hardcover, February 25, 2014), is your go-to book for Boy Scouts, campfires and gore. Stephen King called it "Old school horror" which makes it worth checking out in my book.
14 / 18
This book is pure Stephen King and one of two novels he published in 2014. Revival (Scribner, hardcover, November 11, 2014) covers the lifetime of Jamie Morton, a washed up musician and Charles Jacobs, a blasphemous reverend are locked in a struggle that spans five decades.
15 / 18
This was a difficult choice. I love the Last Policeman series and this book (Quirk Books, trade paperback, July 15, 2014), was a great, unflinching end to an apocalyptic story. It was not, however, a stand-alone story (not really) so I opted not to include it in the official list. But It is the first of my value-added books. Read it, but read The Last Policeman (2012) and Countdown City (2013) first.
16 / 18
Wrath James White
Originally published by Leisure Book (Dorchester) in 2009, this book received new life this year (Blood Bound Books, trade paperback, August 12, 2014), and was made into a movie. This version is the "Author's Preferred Edition" and includes a new epilogue, but it didn't count as a new book so I put it on the value-added list. Wrath James White writes intelligent hardcore horror and this book is one of his creepiest.
17 / 18
Motherless Child (Tor Books, hardcover, May 13, 2014), was originally published by Earthling Publications as Book #8 in the Halloween series in 2012 in a limited edition hardcover format. It was republished in mass market hardcover format this year but it is still a reprint so it remains on the value-added list. Still a great, darkly humorous buddy-vampire-road-trip of a book.
18 / 18