Since the year is coming to an end, we can look back at the highlights of 2016. It was a rough year in many respects- we lost a lot of celebrities far too early, conflict seems more common or at least more televised, all while nationalism and isolationism are making a resurgence. There were a lot of highlights, however, especially in literature. Of the books I read in 2016, here are the top three in the horror genre.
It is worth noting that this is a subjective list, as will the other two Top Three lists this week. I unfortunately cannot read every single horror novel that was released, but I think that these three will definitely be worth your while.
3 - Dracula vs Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan
When I saw the striking red cover and the bold title of this novel, I couldn’t help but give it a read. While not necessarily a horror in the sense of it being terrifying, Dracula vs Hitler makes this list because of its intricate storytelling and the various throwbacks to the original Stoker novel. Some people might write this off as nonsense, since the idea is quite adventurous in nature. However Duncan is an exceptional author, bringing the undead to life in a world ravaged by the Second World War. The book uses the perspective of multiple different characters in different forms of narrative style. If you are a fan of history or the original Dracula legend, definitely check this book out.
2 - HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
This makes the list through a technicality. Originally published in Heuvelt’s native Dutch tongue in 2013, the author was excited to be able to rewrite it and change the ending for an English translation, adapting it to take place in a sleepy New England town. The revised English version was released this year. The story touches a nerve for me - a genuine fear of traditional witches. HEX is a tale of a small town where the residents are cursed by a witch who wanders through the streets, forests, and even the houses, her eyes and mouth stitched shut. One stitch in her mouth is loose and if you hear her whisper then tragedy will soon follow. Those who have seen her cannot leave the town for long, with just a few days away making most become suicidal. The story embraces modern technology, where the teens in the town want to expose the curse for what it really is. Since I have a personal phobia of witches, HEX definitely gave me the creeps. However, Heuvelt’s story actually makes you sympathize with the witch for a portion of the novel. And the new ending is absolutely fantastic, bringing a great read to a magnificent end.
1 - The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
I only caught this one in the last week because it ranked as number two in the horror genre on GoodReads Top Books of 2016. A full-fledged review will be coming next week, but the story takes the unique perspective of an interview between the FBI and the victim of a sociopath nicknamed the Gardener. It is a dark novel, no doubt about that. Rape and sexual assault are commonplace in the Garden. It is the personal nature of the story, the raw emotion of the tragedy that is the main character’s life. Without giving too much away or detracting from my review next week, I confidently give The Butterfly Garden the number one place in the best horrors of 2016.
Though there were a fair number of horrors I read this year, the above three are absolutely worth picking up if you have not done so already. Leave a comment below if you had any you would add to the list, or your personal top three horrors of 2016. The hunt begins for the best novels of 2017 in less than a week, and stay tuned this whole week for the Top Three Fantasy Novels and more this week.