Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Top 20 Horror Novels - #4) The Stand by Stephen King (from 1978)

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)

Top 20 Horror Novels - #4) The Stand by Stephen King (from 1978)

First off, while I would happily include either version of this massive tale on my list, I do prefer Stephen King's expanded and updated version from 1990.  Either way, this epic struggle between good and evil is one of the most impressive books I have ever read.  The Stand's reach extends well beyond the horror genre and it may be King's greatest achievement.  I favor another of his works (more on that later), yet I think those who proclaim this as the finest horror novel of our time have a solid argument on their hands.  Populated by vivid characters (some of whom are good, some of whom are evil, and some who are true wild cards), this devastating tale is overflowing with riches.  Trying to pick a favorite character or sequence is all but impossible, and the book is ripe with terror, suspense, and drama--hell, there's even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  The quality of the writing is a testament to both the power and the charm that King wields, and the imaginative plot coupled with the dark horrors that roam these pages clearly display why genre fans have so much affection for this visionary author.  To read The Stand is to fall in love with it, and this stellar opus set the bar for any attempt to tell a scary story on a grand scale.  New readers will be blown away by the experience, and fans of the book who choose to revisit this one will always find something new to cherish upon their return.  The Stand isn't just a classic horror novel, it's truly one of the best novels ever written.

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