So far this month, we’ve taken a look at what we can queue up on Netflix and what movies to keep an eye out for in theaters. But for the bookish (and clever, natch) among us, today we’re going to look at the best horror-themed book releases this month. Two huge names make appearances in this list, one with a sequel to one of the greatest horror novels of the 20th century. If you’re a fan, you already know what I’m talking about.
Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
While technically released in September, I doubt anyone is going to call me out on it, because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Stephen King is a horror novelist. He’s given us forays into other genres over the years — his non-fiction Danse Macabre and On Writing are superb, for instance — but there may be no bigger name or bigger influence on the horror field still working today. (Apologies to my beloved Anne Rice, who also features in this post.) As the story goes, over the years King would occasionally encounter fans who would ask what happened to that kid from The Shining and he found himself unable to shake the question. Rumors of Doctor Sleep — that Shining sequel about that kid who grew up — persisted for a long time, until King started reading bits from the novel in progress, confirming that we would get to see what happened to little Danny Torrance. Released on September 24th to largely positive reviews, Doctor Sleep is old school Stephen King, full of references to his huge body of work (Castle Rock gets its obligatory shout out) and a couple of passing glances at his son’s, Joe Hill, NOS4A2, which exists in a shared universe. Not to be missed.
Dead Set, Richard Kadrey
Richard Kadrey is behind one of my favorite noir-slash-urban-fantasy series, Sandman Slim, which I’ve recommend in other posts. Dead Set is a standalone novel not connected to the world of Sandman Slim, focusing on Zoe, a young woman struggling to deal with her father’s death.
“After her father’s funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and life in the city is not so easy. Money is tight, and Zoe’s only escape, as has always been the case, is in her dreams—a world apart from her troubled real life where she can spend time with her closest companion: her lost brother, Valentine.
But something or someone has entered their dreamworld uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used record store, where the vinyl holds not music but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. It’s here that the shop’s strange proprietor offers Zoe the chance to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then . . .”
Released October 24th.
Red Hill, Jamie McGuire
Ah, come on. What’s October without a little outbreak tale? Released October 1.
“For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone means fighting for tomorrow is an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.
When reports of a widespread deadly ‘outbreak’ begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy— an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.”
The Wolves of Midwinter, Anne Rice
Werewolves are so hot right now.
In the second in Rice’s Wolf Gift Chronicles, we find Rice back in the horror genre after her lengthy (and kind of weird) foray into religious fiction, and far away from her famous vampires. Released October 15.
“Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.
The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.
From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . .”
Also out this month: Perfect Ruin Lauren DeStefano October 1, The Necromancer’s House Christopher Buehlman October 1, The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Robert Kirkman October 8, Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night: Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts Varla Ventura, October 1.