Steve Pattee's Horror Favorites of 2016
Written by Steve Pattee
Welcome to my "Favorites of 2016" list! I don't really like doing a "Best of" because that's open to interpretation and I like being ornery. Plus, like I said in my Favorites of 2015, "Best of" and "Favorites" mean two different things. Sure, there may be better movies in 2016 than what's on the list below, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed them as much. Simply put, these are the things that brought me great pleasure this year. Your mileage may vary. That said, that last item on the list? Yeah, that's not just my favorite book of 2016, but it's the best book of 2016. I know I'm going against everything I just wrote, but I don't care. My list, my rules.
So, without further ado and in no particular order (except that last item, which is number one, don't forget it), here are my favorite horror things of 2016.
I discovered this amazing shoe company, run by the husband and wife team Jack and Nicole, at the Scares That Care convention in 2015 and placed an order immediately. Since then, I've got another pair of shoes for myself (Jaws!) and a pair for my sister (Wizard of Oz), who in turn bought a pair for a friend for Christmas this year.
Eclectic Goods made my Favorites of 2015, and I won't be surprised if they pop in again at 2017. Not only do I love the product, but the people behind it are pretty spectacular as well. If you are looking for a unique, literally one-of-a-kind pair of shoes for you or a friend, you'll do well to look up Eclectic Goods.
Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz
I'm not going to lie, my introduction to Jonathan Janz's work was his novel, The Sorrows, and I was...meh on it. However, I gave him another shot with his novella, Exorcist Road, which I really, really dug. And after reading Jonathan Lees' review of Children of the Dark, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I did, and it is wonderful.
Lees' review is spot on and nails how good this book is far better than I ever could. I was sucked in from the first page and it didn't let up until the last. Both terrifying and poignant, Children of the Dark is a coming-of-age story you won't want to miss.
I look at The Sorrows as a minor speed bump, as I'm also almost finished with Witching Hour Theatre and a few chapters deep into The Nightmare Girl; both of which I'm thoroughly enjoying. If you haven't read anything by Janz, fix that now by starting with Children of the Dark. You'll be a fast fan.
The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi
The Night Parade was the first novel I read by Richard Malfi, but it wasn't the first work I've read by him, and it won't be the last. I can't exactly remember which novella introduced me to this wonderful author, but I'm sure it was from my subscription to DarkFuse (all of this is in my review of The Night Parade).
The novel follows David and his daughter Ellie as they work their way across the country to the man's brother's place. The reason they are doing this is because Ellie holds the key to a plague that has swept the world; seems she's immune to it. But instead of allowing the doctors to poke and prod his daughter like they did his wife, David hustles the girl to safety. Oh, did I mention Ellie has some supernatural powers to boot? Because she does.
In my review, I said that The Night Parade's elevator pitch would be, "The Stand meets Firestarter with a little of Swan Song." If you like any of those novels, or just great books in general, this one is a no-brainer.
Buttercup of Doom
I subscribe to a ton of podcasts, but there are three I make a point to listen to as soon as they are released. First is Kelli Owen's Buttercup of Doom. Author and gypsy, Owen dispenses advice, rants and ramblings. She's a must listen because she's unapologetic with her opinions, and new and up-and-coming writers in particular will want to tune in because of the knowledge she provides from her experience in the field. There's a good reason why her podcast is on my list two years running.
The Horror Show with Brian Keene
Complementing the Buttercup of Doom and another returning podcast is The Horror Show with Brian Keene. When Keene and co-host Dave Thomas aren't interviewing an author in the field, they are dishing out the dirt in the industry. Like Owen's Buttercup of Doom, The Horror Show with Brian Keene is a must listen for those of us who love the written word of the genre.
New to the list this year is the podcast Astonishing Legends. Hosted by Scott Philbrook and Forrest Burgess, it delves deep into the mysteries of the world. I got turned onto Astonishing Legends with the two-parter on Dyatlov Pass and have been hooked ever since. This is one of the best researched podcasts I listen to, and it's not unlike listening to episodes of Unsolved Mysteries in the radio format.
A Congregation of Jackals: Author's Preferred Text by S. Craig Zahler
Rounding it out is not just the best book of the year, but easily one of the best books I've read in a decade: S. Craig Zahler's A Congregation of Jackals: Authors Preferred Text. I was first introduced to Zahler's work with his novel, Wraths of the Broken Land. I didn't know what to expect from Land seeing how it's a western, but the book blew me away and it ended up being on my Best of 2013 (when I was still doing Best ofs). Zahler's film follow up, Bone Tomahawk was equally impressive, so when I was offered Jackals to review, to say I was eager would be criminally understating it.
Brutal, violent, and relentless, I cannot convey how much I love this book. So much so, as I told Jennifer Barnes (co-owner of the publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press), I get irrationally angry that not everyone has read this yet.
I don't care if you're a fan of westerns or not, if you like a good old-fashioned tale of revenge that will get under your skin and have you thinking about it for long after you've finished it, A Congregation of Jackals is a must read.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane - I know some people felt the ending was tacked on, but I don't care. A strong female lead and a terrifying John Goodman? Yes, please and thank you!
- Motorman by Robert E. Dunn - A fun little novella featuring fast cars, faster women, and the supernatural. The first I've read by Dunn, but definitely not the last. Check out review of Motorman here.
- The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eight, edited by Ellen Datlow - Not going to lie, a part of me is a little depressed that my favorite editor didn't make the list, and this was actually on it until I read A Congregation of Jackals. I guess that says a lot about the quality of books we had this year, where even the best of the best is fighting for a spot. Check out my review of The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eight here.
That's it for 2016, kiddos. What were your favorite things this year? Let us know in the comments below (or how dumb I am, I'm expecting that too).