Alan Ryker latest release is an early contender for my favourite book of 2014, and one of the best books I've read from Darkfuse (which is saying something!) Dream Of The Serpent is a story about Cody Miller, who suffers a horrifying accident at work. During his recovery he has vivid dreams about what his life would have been like if he'd not been so horrifically burnt... Very vivid dreams. I won't describe any more of the plot so as to not ruin it, but I will say this is one of those books where the twists completely blew me away. And plot-twists there are - this book does indeed writhe like a serpent. An original, ambitious, compulsively readable book that deserves your time.
This is a “children’s horror book” – I'm not sure exactly what age ranged this is aimed at, but I do know my twelve year old self would have loved this. And my thirty-seven year old self thought it was pretty neat as well. An interesting, alternative-world take on the vampire story – Ben is transported from our world to a one which seems almost the same but where vampirism is normal, and the non-vampires are the outcasts. What follows is a fast-paced adventure as Ben finds out more about the society of the vampires , and there’s some pleasingly disturbing scenes towards the end which some parents will no doubt hate and kids love. Well worth your time even if you don’t normally read children’s fiction.
The Elementals – Michael McDowell
I read this book because of a Facebook conversation where I somewhat flippantly posted that I couldn't think of a decent horror author who wasn't also a decent short story writer. Gary Fry and Gary McMahon both suggested Michael McDowell as proof otherwise, and recommended this as his best book. And Amazon were selling a second-hand copy for 1p so I couldn't really back-out of seeing if they were right…
And they were; The Elementals is a subtle, slow-burn horror novel; a Southern gothic about the rich Savage family on holiday at their summer home on the Alabama pan-handle. It builds up slowly, almost lazily, as befits a story of characters lethargic in the intense heat around them. This mode is punctuated, for them and us, by moments that hint at the hostile forces building up around them. The book switches gear in its final third, as events speed up and become positively hellish. You realise how cleverly McDowell has constructed the house of cards he has been building in the earlier chapters, and how brutal he is going to be in knocking it down.