Hi there, my name is Laurie but I’m also known as Bark around social media. I can’t even remember how that happened but it probably had something to do with my big mouth and my tendency to bark back at trollish behavior. Dead Head Reviews invited me here to talk about my reading life today. Thank you Dead Head Reviews, I hope you don’t regret it! I’ve been reading scary books my entire life and reviewing them since I first discovered the internet. I’ve strayed from the genre on occasion but never for very long and I have heard all of the insulting statements and questions that people tend to throw at horror fans. Especially female horror fans. You’re likely familiar with a few of them too.
“Why do you read that stuff?”
“Those books are disgusting! You should spend your time doing something else.”
Guys, you might not get this next one but it is THE ABSOLUTE WORST.
“You look so sweet/innocent/normal. You can’t really like those awful things?”
As if I’m too sweet/innocent/normal/dumb to know what I like. Those people clearly do not know me at all and need to GO AWAY with their judgmental selves and let people love what they love when it hurts no one. I’ve never allowed other people to dissuade me from enjoying the scary things and I’d like to think I have converted a new fan or two over to our dark side with my book pushing ways. It’s also the reason I dislike gender rules that surround genres or any rules when it comes to reading and reviewing, for that matter. I’ve been told what I should be doing my entire life. I’ve never listened and am not about to start now.
Love what you love and scream about that love from the rooftops!
But that’s enough soap-boxing. I know you are here for the books and here they are. These are the books that helped mold me into the horror loving weirdo I am today. You should probably read them all, if you haven’t already.
It all started with this book:
The Witches Buttons by Ruth Chew
This is the first “strange” book I remember finding all on my own. I discovered it scattered among all the other books on the RIF table when I was a wee little thing and I read that book until the pages fell out. I was so intrigued by its strangeness and I credit it for sparking a craving for the strange and wonderful in my brain. I will always be grateful to author Ruth Chew for writing this little gem.
Carrie by Stephen King
A few years later I swiped Carrie from my dad’s nightstand. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time, and most of it must’ve gone over my head, because I remembered none of the sexy times and there were quite a few in this book! I only remembered relating to Carrie and her dealings with her batshit crazy mama, and falling completely in love with its darkness. That must’ve been enough for me
The horror novel party dried up after Carrie for a bit, because my dad either learned to hide his books from his weird kid, or he simply wasn’t a big reader. He would take us to the drive-in to see horror movie double-features though so I can’t complain too much. And soon I was old enough to make a little money and buy my own books and boy, did I ever buy books!
I discovered & devoured ALL of the books ever written by V.C. Andrews
(I try to pretend the ones ghost-written by Neiderman after Andrews death do not exist and you probably should too!)
As a young teen, my friends and I gobbled up those books like the poisonous candy that they were. Please don’t even try telling me that those early books weren’t horror novels because I am sticking my fingers in my ears and singing the “I can’t hear you song”. They were addictive and monstrous and so very horrible, and I probably shouldn’t have been reading any of them at such a tender age, but I have no regrets. I believe it was these books that later kicked off my undying love of lurid thrillers filled with beautiful people hiding sinister secrets. And life is nothing without those! They’re also likely to blame for my later love of the entire HOT BLOOD series. Sex and horror? Point me to and I will read all of it.
I mean, seriously? Would you look at those covers!
Most of my childhood/teendom was spent sharing creepy books with my sister. We’d haunt bookstores and drugstores for all of those glorious Paperbacks From Hell that everyone loves so much now. We were truly blessed in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s with some of the best covers and titles ever. Had I known anything at all, I would’ve bought and hoarded them all. Want to hear a real horror story? My mother (who is not a reader) threw them all in the trash and/or gave them away to Goodwill if we left them out where she could find them. I am still bitter and sad about the loss.
I don’t remember much about the plot of any of these books but that’s okay. The covers bring back memories of leisurely summer days spent reading under a tree in solitude, and ignoring people I did not want to talk to. Those years were hard for me and life at home was angry, unpredictable and emotionally painful. Horror comforted me and helped me cope with all of it. If it weren’t for my weird little books, I more than likely would’ve got myself into a world of trouble.
I was also reading the backlist of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and early Robert McCammon at this time. Then came the Dell Abyss line (man, I miss that imprint) and I discovered Kathe Koja and Poppy Z. Brite. My horror love became even stronger. The lush prose and decadent settings of the Brite stories and the intoxicating writing of Koja, transported me to a gorgeously dangerous world and I could not get enough.
I’ve never stopped loving horror, nor have I tired of it, and I will likely read it until my eyeballs give out. I may stray a bit here and there but I will forever and always return to my true love.
Here’s a little recommended reading list off the top of my head featuring some of my all-time and more recent horror loves. Go treat yourself to a few!
The Book I Push On Everyone:
- Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Books that gutted me:
- The Secret Life of Souls & The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
- Pet Sematary, Revival, The Green Mile, & Joyland by Stephen King
- Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke
- Horns by Joe Hill
- In the River by Jeremy Robert Johnson
- Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
- Creature by Hunter Shea
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
- The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons
- We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
Gloriously Gory Madness:
- The Sadist’s Bible by Nicole Cushing
- Cockblock by C.V. Hunt
- To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger
- All early Clive Barker
Other Five Star Favorites:
- Bunny by Mona Awad (this one is pure madness)
- Kiss of the Vampire by Nancy Baker
- The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
- Remains & Bones by Andrew Cull
- Blackout by Tim Curran
- The Bone Tree by Christopher Fulbright
- Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
- Sleep In the Dust of the Earth by Anthony Hains
- We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
- You & Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
- The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan
- Out by Natsuo Kirino
- The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyne Kiste
- Skin by Kathe Koja
- Phantoms by Dean Koontz
- The Hap & Leonard series by Joe R. Lansdale
- The Travelling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon
- The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi
- Garden of Fiends edited by Mark Matthews
- Deerskin by Robin McKinley (not horror but dark as hell)
- Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (dark thriller)
- Book of the Dead edited by John Skipp
- The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen
- Cat Call by Steve Vernon
Laurie is a life-time fan of all things creepy and one of the co-founders of the Ladies of Horror Fiction. She created the Horror Reviewer Directory to help the horror fiction loving community find each other. She writes questionable reviews for other bookworms and posts them to her blogs Bark At The Ghouls and Booklikes, and cross-posts them to Goodreads, Amazon & Instagram when she remembers. She lives in New Hampshire with her family, four cats and a neurotic coonhound, and spends entirely too much of her free time fiddling around on Twitter. She also reads a book or two every now and again.