Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #9) At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (from 1936)

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)
#15) Son of the Endless Night by John Farris (from 1985)
#14) Rockinghorse by William W. Johnstone (from 1986) 
#13) Vampire$ by John Steakley (from 1990)
#12) Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg (from 1978)
#11) Christine by Stephen King (from 1983)
#10) The Manitou by Graham Masterton (from 1975)

Top 20 Horror Novels - #9) At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (from 1936)

The Terror gave us a fictionalized and gruesome account of Sir John Franklin's attempt to force the Northwest Passage in the Arctic.  This mind-boggling tale of a scientific expedition in Antarctica makes the horror that Franklin and his men encountered at the other end of the globe seem rather tame by comparison.  To describe Lovecraft's work as disturbing would be a bit of an understatement, but some may be surprised by how subdued his prose is.  His elaborate but matter-of-fact delivery heightens the plausibility of his work even as his detailed descriptions of horrible entities of incredible evil and might continue to plague readers with nightmares.  While his short fiction is perhaps the best representation of his prowess, this gripping novel is nothing short of remarkable.  As we learn more and more about a doomed journey into the harshest of conditions and the terrible findings that lead to insanity and death for most of the people involved, the tale works its way deeper and deeper under our skin.  While there is a wealth of fantastic content on display throughout, those expecting lots of carnage may find themselves more than a little disappointed.  However, those looking for crisp writing and a formidable sense of unease that steadily grows until it blossoms into something twisted and unspeakable in a nerve-rattling conclusion will go bonkers for At the Mountains of Madness.  While his work will surely be a bigger hit with some than others, anyone who enjoys horror owes it to themselves to sample Lovecraft's unique style, and this terrific yarn is definitely deserving of a spot in my Top 20.

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