Unless otherwise noted in the post title, these are not
reviews, per se. They are articles for people who have already seen the film or read the book in question--meaning that there will be spoilers. If you're already familiar with the material being covered, or don't mind the plot being spoiled, please read on and leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reccomended Reads: Five Series All Horror Fans Should Read

Dexter Series by Jeff Lindsay
Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004), Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005), Dexter in the Dark (2007), Dexter by Design (2009), Dexter is Delicious (2010), Double Dexter (2011), Dexter's Final Cut (2013)

If you've only seen the cable television series, you're missing half the fun. Season one followed the plot of the first novel fairly closely, but after that, both mediums ran off in drastically different directions--almost as if they are alternate universe adventures of the same character. In Book Dexter's world, there are serial killer children, mutilated enemy cops, supernatural cults, mad artists, cannibals, and much more to contend with. It may not be the Dexter you know, but any additional tales of a cult favorite anti-hero like this one deserve a fair shake.

John Wayne Cleaver Trilogy by Dan Wells

I Am Not a Serial Killer (2009), Mr. Monster (2010),  I Don't Want To Kill You (2011)

If Dexter was a teenage serial killer who preyed on demons instead of other serial killers, it might look a little something like this. That's a rudimentary comparison for brevity's sake, but really this series has a rock solid identity all its own. Many retailers list them as "Young Adult Fiction", but don't let that fool you...despite having a teen protagonist, these are grown up works. Wells has told me that he didn't write them with a young audience in mind, nor did he write them with an adult audience in mind. "I just wrote stories I thought were can read whatever you want, and screw the labels on the cover."

Anno Dracula Series by Kim Newman
Anno Dracula (1992), The Bloody Red Baron (1995), Dracula Cha Cha Cha (1998), Johnny Alucard (2013)

Imagine a world in which Bram Stoker's Dracula was grounded in reality, but rather than being killed by Van Helsing and his rough riders, he survived and went on to marry Queen Victoria.  Vampires, now having an increased social status, come out of the shadows to become an acceptable part of society--though things are not all roses.  Over the course of the series, we see Jack the Ripper emerge in the 19th century to murder vampire prostitutes; the bloodsucking Red Baron lead a squadron of flying shapeshifters in World War I; a large gathering of socialite vampires converging in Rome for Dracula's wedding to his new wife, which is interrupted by murder and Ian Fleming-like spy play; and a son of Dracula arrive in America to take a bite out of the 1980s.  Each novel is filled to overflowing with pop cultural references, and characters both historic and fictional.  Newman draws his inspiration from various cultural interpretations of the vampire myths, so along with the more familiar Dracula-style vamp, we also get Chinese hopping vampires and other less-familiar breeds.

The Blue Rose Series by Peter Straub

Koko (1988), Mystery (1990), The Throat (1993), The Juniper Tree and Other Blue Rose Stories (2010)

Although only tangentially tied together, these books feature recurring characters, themes, and references to an old crime known as the Blue Rose Murders.  Each book feels very different from the others, but they also feel intrinsically related.  This is the series where Straub introduced Timothy Underhill, in my opinion one of the greatest modern literary creations, and where he began to experiment with metafiction and new ways of telling a story.  I discovered Straub through his collaborations with Stephen King (The Talisman and Black House), moved onto his Blue Rose books, and never looked back.

Phineas Poe Series by Will Christopher Baer
Kiss Me, Judas (1999), Penny Dreadful (2000), Hell's Half Acre (2004)

Though not strictly horror, this series of modern noir fiction is dark and nihilistic enough that horror fans should almost certainly find it of value.  Phineas Poe is a former police officer (and, more recently, a former mental patient), who beds down with a woman and wakes up the next morning in a bathtub of ice, minus one kidney.  He wants his kidney back, but most of all, he wants the girl back...and that's really the least of his adventures.  Gritty, sexy, violent, poetic, and a little insane, that describes the character of Phineas Poe just as well as it does this series.


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