One of my favorite prompts on the #WickedGoodReads Bingo Card is “Award Winner.” these books are voted on as the best of the year, and I like to read a few of them and see if that’s my experience as well.
Some of the major literary awards with a “horror” specific category are The Bram Stoker Awards presented by the Horror Writers Association, the Locus Awards which has a “Horror Novel” category and the Shirley Jackson Awards for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. The British Fantasy Awards has a horror category as does the Aurealis Awards for Australian Speculative Fiction, and I’m going to throw in the Goodreads Choice Awards as well because they have a Horror category too. Here are 3 award winning horror books I read recently that blew my mind!
The Fisherman, John Langan
Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, 2016. In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. 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.
What the everlasting f$c%! This book creeped me the fuck out! It’s an underlying sad story on top of the creepiness, and the author made us feel every character and what they were going through. Not too much gore – I can’t take as much in my old age – but just the way things are described is incredible … yes, I saw that yawning mouth full of long sharp teeth biting down. A very haunting, atmospheric story that I completely loved in case you haven’t gotten that yet.
Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Locus Award 2021 and British Fantasy Awards, 2021. After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
This book is drama, suspense, and a little weirdness all rolled up into one. It’s not a fast paced story – the author takes time to set the atmospheric nature of the novel, which builds and builds to the climax. It’s a historical gothic horror novel that’s set in Mexico in the 1930’s. I’ll mention again that this is a slow paced novel, and if you know this going into reading Mexican Gothic, then you’ll love it – and appreciate the twist.
The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix
Goodreads Choice Award (Horror), 2021. In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her? Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.
This was a crazy book – horror in terms of the horrific acts that the “final girls” went through. There’s a lot going on which makes it a fast paced novel – the final girls and their trauma, their support group … who don’t really like each other that much – or is it that they don’t like feeling like they need a support group, the stalkers and weird fandom, the movies and books that have been made about or by them … and then one of them goes missing … is this another horrific murder plot to be survived or that will kill them?! There’s lots of dark humor, gore, and slasher nostalgia. The Final Girl Support Group is one of those books that I can see becoming a good movie (if done right).
Of course, there’s also the award winning horror novels that I didn’t like … but I’ll save that for another time. Have you read any of the books above?