I’ve read so much great horror fiction in the last few years, it’s hard to keep track of it all sometimes. Thank Cthulhu for Goodreads. I’ve been lucky enough to rarely stumble across anything that really didn’t live up to expectations. More often than not, I’ll read things that blow me away. Recently I read two collections that were so breathtakingly good, I now consider those authors influences. All of the authors on this list, really.
Chronologically, these are the best five horror collections I’ve read in the past five or so years. The first was published a bit longer ago that that, but I didn’t read it until around 2012. Regardless, I feel these collections are stunning examples of the genre.
#1. THE IMAGO SEQUENCE by Laird Barron – This was the first book that scared me in over a decade. Barron’s created mythology is subtle and terrifying, his prose dense and effective. There is an Americana flair to his nihilism, one that I’ve never seen anywhere else, naturalism running on course with cosmic madness. I can’t recommend this book enough.
#2. AUTUMN IN THE ABYSS by John Claude Smith – Smith brings the New Weird into the Arts, deliciously balancing the concept of creativity with horrific visions. Art is his muse, the imagination itself on trial in these tales, woven together by a singular character who appears throughout. Smith’s work is both evocative and repulsive.
#3. THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY by John Langan – I felt inept as a writer after I finished this collection, it’s so wonderfully conceived. Langan is also a professor, and it shows, his work so carefully and expertly crafted. You feel the weight of the expertise coming out of the words, his prose delivered unlike any other.
#4. FURNACE by Livia Llewellyn – After reading a single story by Llewellyn in an anthology, I knew I had to read more by her. Her prose is dark and exquisite, an ethereal combination that draws the reader into her weird tales. These stories burrow into your head and nest there, slowly gaining strength in your psyche. Truly phenomenal.
#5. WILL THE SUN EVER COME OUT AGAIN? by Nate Southard – A fantastic collection of four novellas, Southard writes a gritty cosmic horror that is both relatable and epic. His work reaches out and grabs you by the throat, then drags you kicking and screaming down familiar territory into nightmares you’re unprepared for. Unbelievable work.
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