Saturday, October 31, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #1) Dracula by Bram Stoker (from 1897)

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)
#9) At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (from 1936)
#8) All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By by John Farris (from 1977)
#7) Hell House by Richard Matheson (from 1971)
#6) The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (from 1971)
#5) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (from 1954)
#4) The Stand by Stephen King (from 1978)
#3) Jaws by Peter Benchley (from 1974)
#2) 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King (from 1975) 

Top 20 Horror Novels - #1) Dracula by Bram Stoker (from 1897)

First off, let's be clear: the story that is told in Dracula is a stellar combination of fright, romance, and adventure that has stood the test of time, inspiring plays and movies that are nearly as famous as Stoker's groundbreaking novel.  The character at the heart of the tale, the fiendish Count with a thirst for blood, is woven into the very fabric of the horror genre, and in the realm of fiction, he has proven immortal.  Yet I think what's often missing from praise for this thrilling book is commentary that underscores just how impressive Bram Stoker's writing is.  The style he chose for Dracula is epistolary, meaning this classic is composed of various journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings.  The notion of telling a grand tale in such a fashion is daunting to say the very least, yet Stoker absolutely slayed it.  Various voices come into play and an engrossing plot unfolds with style.  Dracula is a fantastic yarn that is granted plausibility by the approach the author adopted, but he didn't sacrifice any momentum or flair by telling this invigorating story with a series of articles.  His ability to spin a yarn that is both haunting and seductive, much like the titular menace who remains at the forefront of the vampire sub-genre, remains a pleasure to behold.  Better than a century after he was set loose on our world, Dracula still reigns supreme in the realm of horror literature.  Those who have read this bold and enticing tale of terror will undoubtedly share my enthusiasm for Stoker's defining work, and those who haven't should pick up a copy and start their trek into the dark heart of Transylvania.

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