Everyone is familiar with the writings of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz. They are the heavy hitters of horror literature. There are some novelists that often get overlooked by Hollywood and the average horror reader. I am an avid reader of horror and I would like to share with you some summer reading of the “Lesser known” novelists who aren't named Stephen King.
Let’s start with an American novelist that has over twenty books out and is an exceptional horror writer, Bentley Little. He is one of my favorites. The first novel of his that I read was called The Haunted. I can honestly say that this book actually scared me. The odd smell in the basement and the strange neighbors begin to take its toll on the new tenants. The darkness begins to rise up the basement stairs and literally made me sweat as I read it. With a believable plot and deep characters, Bentley Little draws you into their world of chaos. This ghost story will give you goosebumps and make you sleep with the light on. He is the master of disturbing and vivid terrors unlike any other author I have ever read. He has the ability to disgust even the most hardened of horror readers. He conjures up fears that I didn’t even know I had. He has written some fabulous novels, among them: The House, Death Instinct and The Resort. If you enjoy having every little noise make you jump while you read then I highly recommend Bentley Little.
Another author that is often overlooked is Richard Laymon. He is an American novelist that is particularly within the splatterpunk/horror genre. He has since gone to the great, big, writing desk in the sky but his works are legendary. My favorite of his is called The Traveling Vampire Show. This book follows three young boys on their adventure to see the vampire show. Intrigued by a reported real vampire named Valera, they sneak away to the backwoods of the show where they encounter a vicious dog. When they escape the trio watch as the vampires rip the dogs to shreds. They are soon engulfed in the show itself, with the long buildup to the show and anticipatory dread without, Richard Laymon takes you to heights of horror that are very often unseen. With no filler in this novel, the blood and splatter seem to never end. As I read it, I realized that I could not put it down and read it all within one day. I was ravenous to read more. I highly recommend his novels entitled: The Cellar, The Beast House and Funland. If you like reading novels with no filler but filled with splatter, action and suspense, I highly recommend Richard Laymon.
The final author I would like to introduce you to is another American, Jack Ketchum. His real name is Dallas William Mayr. Although some of his novels have been adapted into films such as: The Girl Next Door, Offspring (The sequel to Off Season) and XX (his short story to it is entitled The Box), he is still relatively an unknown. The movie adaptations of his works are, to say the least, not a correct adaptation of his novels. His ability to make you absolutely hate the antagonist is remarkable. He can make you feel compassion and revulsion all in the same chapter. After I read The Girl Next Door I was left feeling soul shaken. The story follows two sisters that have been orphaned due to a horrific car crash. They are sent to live with their aunt. The aunt is unstable to say the least. She punishes the younger of the two sisters by making her take her panties off and lift up her dress only to be beaten in front of her sons and their friends. You want to crawl into the book and save her. The older sister is then put through sheer torture as the aunt places her in the basement tied to one of the rafters. As the story continues, the beatings get more brutal but the girls find a friend in one of the boys. The movie does a good job portraying the antagonist but there is nothing like reading it. He is the winner of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. I wish that he was still writing, he died of cancer and is with Richard Laymon bouncing ideas off of each other.
There are many other authors of horror that are often overlooked. Look out for my next summer reading article of "lesser known" horror authors not named Stephen King where I will go over Peter Benchley, Sarah Langan and Kathe Koja.
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