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January release: When 17-year-old Luke Hunter foretells the death of his friend with freakish accuracy, life gets complicated, fast. Everyone in Stokum, his rank little pinprick of a hometown, knows about the premonition and wants to know more. But Luke holds everyone—the local news crew, his buddy Fang, the Polish widow next door—at arm’s length as he lurches through his own personal minefield.
January release: A country music superstar reunites with his first love and realizes the steep price he has paid for his success in Forever My Girl, based on the novel by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin.
January release: 12 Strong tells the true story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down for the Taliban.
January release: In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.
February release: Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who sets out on an expedition to a mysterious area to find out what killed her husband there.
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BONUS BOOK: "The Turn of the Screw" (1898) a gothic novella by Henry James. This book doesn't completely fit with the rest of the books in this list, it's one that I feel certain helped spawn them. Without Henry James' then ground-breaking psychological suspense novel, we probably wouldn't have had a razor-sharp Shirley Jackson. A young governess, caring for two kids begins to see ghosts that mean to corrupt them.
"The Haunting of Hill House" (1959) by Shirley Jackson. Shirley's novel is the seminal haunted house story of the twentieth century. Read it as a ghost story, as a psychological suspense novel or as both, it's a different story each time. How cool is that? It has influenced, I think for the better, some of the best haunted house novels that followed.
"Hell House" (1971) by Richard Matheson. Of all the books in the list, Matheson's fierce tale of haunting seems most in direct contrast with Shirley's classic story. Hill House may have one ghost, Belasco House has many -- that kind of contrast. Reading them one after another was enlightening. A physicist and two mediums, tackle Hell House and discovers that every question answered lead to new mysteries.
"The Shining" (1977) by Stephen King -- This book is often cited as one of two truly scary Stephen King novels. Jack Torrance is the new off-season caretaker of The Overlook Hotel. While snowed in, he hopes to break through his writer's block and begin his next story as he reconnects with his family. The Overlook seduces Jack, not unlike Hill House, but the hotel doesn't really want Jack -- it wants his son Danny.
"Soulstorm" (1986) by Chet Williamson. If "Hell House" contrasts against "Hill House", "Soulstorm" contrasts against them both. A billionaire seeking proof of life after death has five people sealed up in the mansion on Pine Mountain. They soon discover that it's haunted. Why it is haunted and by whom will surprise the reader. The story works great on its own but is richer if you read Jackson and Matheson first.
Novels and novellas written in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - traditional pastiche of the originals.
Fiction is one thing. Real life is another. If you want to read stories about people who grew up Mennonite, Amish, or Hutterite, try these.
This is my end-of-the-year pick of the 15 best horror books published in 2014. But the value doesn't end there as I include a few books that deserve to be mentioned.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These giant robot manga should not be missed!
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The classic. I would argue: the ultimate. Get your mix of giant robots, huge monsters, tragic pasts, pseudo-Christian mythology, and Freudian issues here!
A high school student finds herself in a fantasy world of dragons, knights, and giant fighting machines. Love and action rule in Escaflowne.
The manga reimagines the anime series for a more mature audience. A young man pilots a mecha and travels the stars with a crew of beautiful, quirky women. (Ah, typical manga.)
Tokyo has been captured! It's now ruled by (literally) blue-blooded people. A young man escapes the city and finds that time inside Tokyo has been passing at a crawl—he's actually twelve years behind the rest of the world! Oh—and he might be able to pilot a giant robot to save Tokyo. Just saying.
"Eureka Seven" shines for the simple love story at its core—there has to be something simple in this sprawling epic about the war against the alien invaders! The anime's soundtrack was gorgeous, so load up your playlist while you read.