Monday, October 12, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #15) Son of the Endless Night by John Farris (from 1985)

Not only am I ranking my Top 20 Horror Movies for you this October, but I'm doing likewise with the scary books that I hold near and dear.  As with the movies that I'm discussing in that Top 20, I'm not attempting to rank these novels based on their place in pop culture, but rather their place in my heart.  Isn't that sweet?  Seriously, there are some fine books that didn't make the cut here because there just wasn't room, and there are definitely some well-regarded books that didn't make the cut because I don't really like them.  That also means there are some personal favorites of mine on this list that you may not have heard of.  If that's the case, I promise that I'll reward your trust with a gnarly tale if you give one of them a spin.  Finally, I may have shortchanged some of the titans in the genre (hey there, Stephen King) as I didn't want to overload this list with titles by the same author, though Uncle Stevie did manage to score three direct hits on my list.

The list thus far:

#20) Amok by George Fox (from 1980) 
#19) Manstopper by Douglas Borton (from 1988)
#18) Intensity by Dean Koontz (from 1995)

#17) The Terror by Dan Simmons (from 2007) 
#16) The Snake by John Godey (from 1978)

Top 20 Horror Novels - #15) Son of the Endless Night by John Farris (from 1985)

This is the first novel from John Farris to make my list, but it won't be the last.  Farris is one of three authors who will have more than one entry in this Top 20, and truth be told, he's my favorite.  Now, I think that Stephen King is probably a better writer, but no one is able to manipulate me quite the way that this impressive southern author with a diminutive public persona does.  Farris has hit me with twists that were so hard that I spent several minutes reading the same paragraph over and over again and trying to figure out if my copy of the book was fucked up before I finally got it.  He has written tales where the guy you believe to be the protagonist for the first third of the book turns out to be the antagonist.  He is an amazing talent, and it's a shame that many who love the horror genre as much as I do are unfamiliar with his work.  Son of the Endless Night is one of his biggest and boldest tales, and it features several of this author's trademarks, to include at least one major twist and several perverse and terrifying sequences.  The characters are robust and extremely entertaining, yet Farris doesn't deal in caricatures, so these vibrant figures are well-defined and believable.  There have been several horror yarns that deal with possession over the years, but there is only one (yes, that one, and it will be featured much higher on my list) that I consider to be superior to Son of the Endless Night.  This book is overflowing with intriguing figures, haunting themes, and shocking moments.  It contains one of my favorite characters ever, one Conor Devon, a failed priest who decided to become a professional wrestler.  There is a part where he decides to find out if a primary character is truly possessed (Conor couldn't cut it as a priest because he doesn't really believe in such things) by touching that character with a Catholic wafer, and this has to be one of my favorite sequences ever put on paper.   One particular subplot involving a pair of bible-thumpers who drive a big rig that is totally pimped out for Jesus is maybe a bit too much, but I enjoyed it.  In the end, Son of the Endless Night may not be the best possession tale out there, but it is a terrifying odyssey into demonic terror courtesy of a true master who deserves a much higher standing in the literary world.

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