“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Hello friends, Happy New Year, huzzah and all that jazz. It’s been longer than I had planned since I’ve last checked in with you, apologies for that. You deserve better. The last quarter of 2018 was a clusterfuck for the family and I, and while we are still dealing with the residual effects, things are slowly starting to come together. So there’s no better time to reacquaint than in the new year, over a best-of list… that I’ll never call a best-of list. Ha.
My year in reading was statistically different than in years previous. Damn near all of the books I read consisted of current releases, 2018 releases, instead of the typical 50/50 ish split. In turn, I am able to compile a favorites list consisting of current releases (with that one exception, wink) for the first time in my blog history! I think that is pretty rad. Is this a trend that will carry over to 2019? Well, with the first dozen or so books I’m interested in tackling being hold overs, books I planned and failed to read in quarter four, a current release list may not happen again. Who knows? All I know is that I am looking forward to a solid year of handpicked reads. I also look forward to diversifying my portfolio a bit, you’ll see what I mean in a bit.
As I have said before, I don’t have the pedigree to tell you what is “better than” in any subject, least of all fiction literature, but what I can and will do is share with you the books that entertained me the most in the year of our lord, Cthulhu, 2018. My list will be different than your list, and that is rad! Fantastic. Amazing even.
That’s the beauty of this community, a multitude of different tastes breathing as one and getting along smashingly. For the most part anyway. I greatly look forward to reading your list of favorite (or best-of) reads, and I hope you are equally excited to check out mine. And away we go!
WAIT! Hold on a moment…
First I’d like to create and bestow an honorary award. I’ll call it. The Golden Eye of Madness! Created to acknowledge excellence in a book that I have missed the boat on, something I should have read years ago, maybe even decades ago. Or maybe better defined as a book that any self-respecting horror fan should already have under their belt.
The 2018 Golden Eye of Madness goes to…..
Swan Song by Robert McCammon. Currently published by Pocket Books
Damn. What an experience. 900+ pages of night sweats. The fact that it took me 30 years to read this book is shameful. I felt so much anxiety during the attack scenes, it was unreal. Nightmares, lost sleep. Thank you, Swan Song.
Okay, now I’m ready…
Favorite 2018 releases
Corpsepaint by David Peak
Published by Worde Horde Apr. 30th, 2018
As a fan of Black Metal I found this read fascinating and fully immersive! Besides the music influence, Corpsepaint features fluid writing, wonderful characters, and bleak set pieces. I was pretty confident after reading Corpsepaint in July that it was going to end up in the top spot, I dug it that much.
Circus + The Skin by Keith McCleary
Published by Kraken Press Sept. 11th, 2018
A new author for me, and a new reading experience. A noirish mystery with horrific elements made for a good time. Keith crafted compelling characters and equally compelling set pieces and flat-out told a mesmerizing story. Plus, who doesn’t like midway themed tales? Nobody, that’s who.
Little Black Spots by John F.D. Taff
Published by Grey Matter Press Sept. 18th, 2018
My first John F.D. Taff experience and most definitely not my last. 20+ humdingers of horror fiction. Taff is another writer I have missed the boat on over the past few years and has immediately become a must-read. Chek this out, you’ll love it.
Out Behind the Barn by John Boden & Chad Lutzke
Published by Shadow Work Publishing Oct. 5th, 2018
A last minute, post Christmas squeeze in that ended up flooring me. A book that really brings the feels, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the gents who crafted it. John Boden & Chad Lutzke on their own never fail to entertain and their respective styles mesh seamlessly here. A wonderful read.
Scapegoat by Adam Howe & James Newman
WELL LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHIN’ BROTHER! Scapegoat is a riot! Rock & wrasslin’ & cults &… well, get it and read it. Awesome finale.
Published by Honey Badger Press Oct. 5th, 2018
Shiloh by Philip Fracassi
Historical horror from a writer that just does not disappoint. I’m excited for anything and everything Fracassi has coming down the pipeline.
Published by Lovecraft eZine Press Apr 25th, 2018
The Switch House by Tim Meyer
Published by Evil Epoch Press July 5th, 2018
First it’s fun, then it flips on a dime and becomes downright serious. Hands down my favorite Tim Meyer joint thus far.
Townies and Other Tales of Southern Mischief by Eryk Pruitt.
Published by Polis Books Oct 16th, 2018
It wouldn’t be a complete year without a dose of Pruitt’s brand of Southern molasses. His prose is intoxicating and his characters and varied mix of sour mash. Pruitt is a personal favorite and a must read author.
Creature by Hunter Shea
Published by Flame Tree Press Sept. 6th, 2018
Prepare to chop a shitload of onions, and bring some tissues. You’ll need ’em. Creature is a very strong offering from Hunter quite possibly a favorite, and a prime example of what Flame Tree is bringing to the table.
The Smile Factory by Todd Keisling
Published by Precipice Books July 24th, 2018
Keisling bas been a personal favorite since before this blog thing started, and The Smile Factory Universe is something I’d love to return to in the future. Todd, bring me Devil’s Creek!
Published by Cinestate Vol 2 Issue 1 Oct 2018
Motherfucking Fangoria Magazine! Who saw this coming? What a blast from the past and what a comeback. Combining a gorgeous presentation and a line-up of horror ringers and you have an instant classic and the best issue released. Ever. I think the last issue I read was in the 160’s and my world was changing. Feels like it’s changing again.
And there you have it! It’s been a good year and I fully expect another good year in 2019. Take care of yourselves and each other. Keep in touch, let me know what you’re up to and what you are reading in 2019. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date on my reads. Cheers!
Zakk is a big dumb animal…
Huh… what’s that? Do I have any honorable mentions? Well of course I have honorable mentions!
Honorable Mentions of 2018
The Wicked Ones by J.Z. Foster
Published by CreateSpace Feb 13th, 2018
A gnarly good time, chock full of discomfort and mayhem.
Dead Man’s Badge by Robert E. Dunn
Published by Brash Books Feb 1st, 2018
Robert can flat out tell a story, any genre, he can crush it. And sweet baby Jesus, check out that cover!
The Listener by Robert McCammon
Published by Cemetery Dance Pubs Feb 27th, 2018
Hey you guys and gals should really check out this author I discovered this year, his name is Robert R. McCammon and he’s pretty fucking awesome…. face palm. Where the hell have I been?!
Skullface and/ or Stirring the Sheets Boy by Chad Lutzke
Published by Static Age Book (Sep 14th, 2018) and Bloodshot Books (Apr 13th, 2018) respectively.
Chad brings the feels, each and every time. Quality fiction no matter what title you pick up.
He Digs a Hole by Danger Slater
Published by Fungasm Press Feb 14th, 2018
What’s this? Bizarro? On my year end list?! Will wonders never cease?
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
And while you’re here, check out The Eyes of Madness, stop by and say hello.