Paul D. Brazill’s 5 Top Reads For Halloween

Top 5 Reads For Halloween

When picking out five horror reads for Halloween, the temptation is, of course, to dig up the classics but I’m more interested in what’s walking the earth here and now, to be honest. So here are five modern horror books that I’ve taken a fancy to over the last couple of years.

High Moor by Graham Reynolds

Graeme Reynold’s gripping debut novel, High Moor, is the story of people struggling to survive.

The action kicks off – and ends – in 2008, but the bulk of High Moor takes places in a small town in the north of England, in 1986. The town, the eponymous High Moor, is in decline after Margaret Thatcher’s government has given it a good kicking.

John, Michael and David are schoolboys trying to survive the assaults of Malcolm, the local bully, and his cronies.

Davey and Michael are also trying to survive living with a violent and drunken father.

And then the stakes are raised even higher when a werewolf attacks.

High Moor is a true page turner. A gritty, social-realist horror novel and a coming-of-age story that is full of down to earth and likeable characters.

The pacing is great and the lives of the people living in High Moor is accurately and dispassionately portrayed.

Blood Crimes by Dave Zeltserman

Let’s face it; most vampires are big girl’s blouses. If Tom Cruise in `Interview With A Vampire’ is anything to go by then the typical vampire is about as scary as Adam Ant’s `Dandy Highwayman’.

But there’s nothing of the New Romantic about the vampires in Dave Zeltserman’s `Blood Crimes’. These are hard rocking creatures of the night. Indeed, the book kicks off with our heroes ,Jim and Carol, driving along an archetypal American highway listening to The Doors `Riders On The Storm’. This sets the tone of ‘Blood Crimes’ perfectly although there’s more than one `killer on the road’ in this hardboiled take on the vampire legend.

Jim and Clara are classic noir lovers on the run, like those in They Drive By Night, Theives Like Us, Badlands and Natural Born Killers. They’re trying to escape from Serena – a rich, vampire femme fatale – and Metcalf – an ex CIA hit man who performs experiments on vampires in an underground laboratory. Throw a world weary Private Eye and a biker gang into the mix and you have a really well written, blood splattered and very cinematic page turner that fans of From Dusk Till Dawn and Near Dark will love. And not a lavender fop in sight!

Paskagankee by Allan Leverone

Chief Mike McMahon is a big city cop living -in self-imposed exile -in the small town of Paskagankee, with a the shadow of a past tragedy hanging over him.

Sharon Dupont is a rookie cop who is unhappily forced to return to her home town after a liberating stint at the FBI Training Academy.

Professor Kenneth Dye is a soused, English academic, whose reputation was mangled after he published a conversational book on Native American folklore.

These three disparate individuals are thrown together after the town of Paskagankee is struck by a series of strange and gruesome murders.

Allan Leverone’s Paskagankee is a perfectly paced and hard hitting supernatural thriller that you will breathlessly race through and will leave you gasping for its sequel, Revenant.

Ill At Ease by Mark West, Neil Williams and Stephen Bacon

Ill At Ease by Mark West, Neil Williams and Stephen Bacon comes with the tag-line ‘Three New Stories Of The Macabre’, which is an accurate enough description but doesn’t really do justice to this cracking collection of urban horror stories.

In Stephen Bacon’s chilling ‘Waiting For Josh’, a successful London journalist returns to his home town to spend time with a dying friend. Guilt, disappointment, shame, dread and the ghosts of the past all haunt this wonderfully written story.

And more supposedly long buried secrets also crawl to the surface in Mark West’s vivid ‘Come See My House In The Pretty Town.’ Old friends make contact through Facebook -a nice touch -and have a reunion in an idyllic, quintessentially English village, complete with a country fair, which isn’t quite what it seems.

The last story in this far-too-short collection is ‘Closer Than You Think’ by Neil Williams, who is also responsible for the smashing cover. A dark cloud hovers over this gripping story which starts off with the mundane incident of someone picking up something discarded at a rubbish dump.

In fact, it’s the mundanity of the settings, combined with the masterful writing, that gives this marvellous collection a palpable sense of the ominous.

The characters in ill at ease are all very real and living recognizable lives of quiet, and mostly dull, domesticity. Until something happens that pulls so hard on the threads of their lives that the whole bloody thing unravels.

Ill at ease is a highly recommended collection containing three splendid examples of modern, British storytelling.

The Dead Man vol. 1 by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels

The Dead Man : Face Of Evil is the first volume of this whipcracking cliff-hanger horror /thriller serial from Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, with stories from many other cracking writers too.

Our hero, Matthew Cahill, is a widower who spends a lot of his time and energy taking care of his self-destructive friend Andy. After they both lose their jobs, Cahill goes away on a skiing trip with a potential love interest. But there’s an avalanche and Cahill is killed. However, three months later Cahill’s body is found and he is miraculously brought back to life with a mysterious supernatural gift.

In Ring Of Knives, Cahill heads off to a mental institution to find a patient who may be able to shed some light on his affliction.

But all is not as it seems and Cahill is quickly pumped with a heavy dose of intrigue and pulse pounding action.

In the third story, Hell In Heaven , Cahill ends up in a town called Heaven which seems like it was trapped in amber in another century. But, of course, all is not as it seems and Cahill is once again caught up in the war between good and evil.

The Dead Man is a splendid series and is super rush of a read with plenty of sharp twists and turns. Later volumes are also well worth your time.

My books:

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  1. Reblogged this on PAUL D. BRAZILL.

  2. […] for pleasure –  Check – Look at these top 5 Halloween reads if you need thematic inspiration this month. I’m thinking about High Moor by Graham […]

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