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text 2017-12-29 18:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Books of 2017
Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman
The Changeling - Victor LaValle
Hell Hound - Ken Greenhall,Grady Hendrix
Bone White - Ronald Malfi
The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix
Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton
The Trials of Solomon Parker - Eric Scott Fischl


Please note that these are not necessarily books published in 2017, only books I've read during this year. I also had to change the title from novels to books, because of the awesome PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which is more of a reference book. I've read a lot of great books this year, and making up this list was so difficult, that I've added a few "Honorable Mentions" at the end of the list. 


Without further ado, (please click the cover to see my original review):


1.Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden  by Christopher Golden. I haven't read very many books by Mr. Golden, but I own quite a few of them. I have had the pleasure of meeting him numerous times at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, where he is always friendly and humble. This story about the discovery of Noah's Arc was fun and frightening all at once and I loved it!


2. The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman  by Christopher Buehlman. This author is my favorite discovery of the year. Over the past 12 months I've read or listened to every novel he's written and I'm eagerly awaiting the next. The Suicide Motor Club features a road trip with vampires in American muscle cars. It couldn't have been more perfect or fun for me!


3.The Changeling - Victor LaValle  by Victor LaValle. This novel was just AMAZING. It's starts out in one direction and ends up in a totally different direction: none of which could be predicted and I love that! 


4. Hell Hound - Ken Greenhall,Grady Hendrix  by Ken Greenhall. This novel was originally published in the late 1970's. Brought back by Valancourt Books with a new cover and an introduction from Grady Hendrix, this book about an evil dog is spellbinding fun!


5. Bone White - Ronald Malfi  by Ronald Malfi. I find myself thinking about this book a lot lately, since the frigid cold weather began here. This novel was a cold and creepy read and I just loved it. 


6. The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith  by John Claude Smith. A surreal, unique and intense read that I think about anytime I look out into the woods behind my house. 


7.A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly  by the AWESOME John Connolly. I've read a lot of series books over the years and very few of them have kept up the quality continuously throughout like this series about fictional detective Charlie Parker. I feel in my bones that the series is coming to an end and I will be so sad when that happens. 


8. Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix  by Grady Hendrix. I don't even know what else to say about this GORGEOUS volume. It's a reference book, really, but no reference book EVER in history was as much fun or as pretty as this one. With colorful commentary about the times in which these books were originally written, no other book has had such a powerful impact on my TBR list as this one. 


9.Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton  by Ken Greenhall. This is his second entry on my list. Originally published in the 70's, (like Hell Hound above) and brought back by Valancourt Books, this novel is CHILLING in its depiction of a nasty, calculating witch of a girl. (Also, please note both of these are referenced in Hendrix's PAPERBACKS FROM HELL.)


10.The Trials of Solomon Parker - Eric Scott Fischl  by Eric Scott Fischl. This book isn't classified as horror, but I put it solidly in the land of dark fiction and as such, it belongs on this list. I know it's not a popular or well known book, but it sure was a unique, fun and interesting ride. This one slid under most everyone's radar, but I thought it was great and I humbly hope its mention on this list helps it to get more attention. 


As mentioned above, I have three honorable mentions, (click title to see my review):


THE LISTENER by Robert McCammon. Much as I loved ARARAT, this was my favorite book of the year. Except that it isn't even out yet. Publishing in 2018, I didn't feel it was fair to add it to this list. (And even though I read it in 2017, be assured that it will be on my BEST BOOKS OF 2018 post.) An amazing novel of magic, friendship, crime and love, I cannot wait until more people read it, so I can discuss it with them!


SPINAL TAP: THE BIG BLACK BOOK by Wallace Fairfax was a total blast. This book features fun facts about the fictional band as well as a discography and other interesting tidbits. I haven't seen this book mentioned or talked about anywhere, and that's a damn shame. Any fans of the film This is Spinal Tap would love this book. 


ASH WEDNESDAY  by Chet Williamson was a fantastic book of quiet horror. It was slow burning and horrific, but not in a bloody or gory way. I took away from it a sense of the value of life and time-we have to make the most of the time we have. 







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review 2017-11-10 20:47
By Ronald Malfi December Park [Paperback] - Ronald Malfi

In 1993, children in Harting Farms begin to go missing. The police start investigating — and a curfew for kids under eighteen is implemented — but no answers are found. The crimes go on. Five teenage friends band together to solve the crime for themselves, going to places in town adults aren’t aware of, the places kids frequent. Their investigation goes on for quite a while, and in that time they’ll discover more than they expected.


This was my second Ronald Malfi novel. Call me a bonafide Malfi fan, because this guy is 2/2 with me. Though this one didn’t quite reach the heights of Bone White, I feel, it was still a lot of fun. It’s a quick, enthralling read, and I would have finished it much sooner had I not also had David Copperfield on the docket.


I must admit a few things about this book felt rather derivative. The main character and narrator, Angelo, is a horror-loving kid with a penchant for storytelling. This sort of character has become a trope in horror-tinged coming of age fiction, though it is understandable. It’s a case of writers writing about what they know. Still, it just smacked of unoriginality. Other elements such as a massive storm and a creepy house the kids refer to as “The Werewolf House” felt like they’d been ripped straight from Stephen King’s IT. That’s not to say this is a case of plagiarism; most certainly not. It’s just these things have been done so often before.


This is a fun and emotional mystery/thriller starring five very likable (albeit somewhat unmemorable) kids. Whatever problems are present are made up for with Malfi’s sheer writing talent.

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review 2017-10-26 02:19
Bone White - Ronald Malfi

Paul Gallo is a man looking for answers. The year before the events of this novel begin, his twin brother, Danny, went missing in the tiny town of Dread’s Hand, Alaska. Paul — a teacher in Maryland — is too far away to investigate . . . until, after news that a mass murderer in Dread’s Hand has led the police to his victims’ graves. Is one of the victims Danny? He must find out — as it turns out, the only way he can do so is go to the Alaska town himself. But answers will not come easy.


I loved this novel much more than I was expecting to, and the hype for it was already through the roof. This one deserves all the praise it gets, and more. It is a rare thing to find a horror novel (and, yes, this is very much a horror read) that hits all the right notes: Ronald Malfi‘ prose is on point; bleak horror is wrought from the mystery at the center of this tale. As my friend Edward said in his review, dread drips from this book’s pages. From the first chapter to the last, this will hold you spellbound. Promise.


I really can’t think of a more perfect read for this time of year — when the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Malfi is great at setting; I truly felt like I was in this desolate Alaska town while reading. The atmospherics are just spot-on. Alaska is such a mysterious place, really, and ripe for scares; why is more horror not set there?


My highest recommendation. Now I must check out everything else Ronald Malfi has written.


Read for ‘Murder Most Foul’ in Halloween Bingo.



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text 2017-10-23 03:08
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 384 pages.
Bone White - Ronald Malfi

Reading this one for Murder Most Foul. 


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review 2017-10-22 17:31
Bone White - Ronald Malfi
Bone White - Ronald Malfi

A man shambles down out of the hills of northern Alaska and into the only diner in the tiny, fly-speck sized town of Dread's Hand. He sits down at the counter and casually orders his favorite, hot cocoa. The waitress is trembling as she brings it to him. As Joe Mallory is enjoying his drink with dried blood all over his shirt, he suggests to the waitress that she contact the local law officer, that he has finished burying five bodies in the hills and he'd like to turn himself in.


Paul Gallo watches the news report back in Maryland of the Dread's Hand murders and immediately takes interest. His twin brother, Danny, disappeared in the remote town over a year ago and no one has seen or heard from him since. He quickly flies out there to see if his brother is one of the dead and to finally get some answers. However, the residents of Dread's Hand aren't much for strangers in their town and Paul Gallo doesn't belong there.



So far, Bone White is my favorite read of 2017. Malfi does an incredible job at painting the bleakness of the desolate Alaskan town and the haunting foothills that stretch out from it. My emotions ranged across the spectrum as I read the story. There aren't many places that are truly isolated anymore. Dread's Hand is the exception and Malfi plays it up like a maestro. The whole time I was reading Bone White, I kept having visualizations of 30 Days of Night. Shoddy cell phone coverage, vast expanses of nothingness, residents few and far between and no one is interested in helping Paul solve his mystery. All the while, in the background, you can feel the dread and danger mounting, but still out of reach. You know something is coming, but what? If you have yet to become acquainted with Malfi's work, I highly recommend it and Bone White is a fantastic place to start.




5 Crosses in the Yard out of 5



* This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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