Plans, so many plans, and so many plans abandoned! I started out my #ripxii reading with a pile of horror I was ready to devour, and I ended my #ripxii reading digesting an entirely different pile. Typical. So, yeah, I didn’t finally read Let the Right One In or Books of Blood or the Abhorsen series. I didn’t even see IT.
Of the nine books on my proposed #ripxii reading list, I read two (Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw and Wormwood Gentleman Corpse by Ben Templesmith) and have just started another (My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due). But I managed to fill September and October with horror and nightmare and murder and suspense all the same, sensible tbr pile be damned, DAMNED TO HELL. *cue demon laughter*
The comics of your nightmares
What I discovered instead was Locke & Key, a horror comic series created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, and I devoured all six collected volumes in a few days, totally lost in the world, the art, and the characters. Several readers I trust had recommended the series, but going in I had no idea what it was about. But when I was offered a damaged box set for 40 euros at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I decided it was time I found out.
Locke & Key is about a murder, about strange magical keys, the magic of childhood that fades as you age, a big spooky house, grief, and friendship. The night I finished the first volume, Welcome to Lovecraft, I had horrific nightmares. If that isn’t the stamp of a horror story’s success, I don’t know what is. In volume two, Head Games, shit starts getting weird, and I was addicted. The delivery, the depth of the characters, the coloring (I am weird about coloring, it makes or breaks comics for me); it is all top of the line. Joe Hill’s novel Heart-Shaped Box has just moved up several dozen places on my tbr.
Voted most horrific novel
A trip to the library intended to stop myself from buying any more books after the carnage that was me buying discounted comics at the Frankfurt Book Fair landed Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates on my reading pile. And my god, it was horrific and my god, can she write.
Zombie was my first Oates novel, though not the first time I had heard her name. I distinctly remember her thin, frail frame passing me on the steps as she approached the podium to give a talk for the New York State Summer Writers Institute. (Why do I remember her body so distinctly, when I can remember nothing of what she said? Perhaps it is simply time, and fading memory. I remember just as little of what Art Spiegelman said during a presentation in the same auditorium.) But the descriptions of her novels never sparked my interest, in the same way that the descriptions of most of Margaret Atwood’s novels do not—though I feel an obligation to give both a chance. Well. Lesson learned. Like Atwood, Oates is a skillful writer, capable of all sorts of acrobatics, and in Zombie she gives unique voice to a serial killer whose thoughts and deeds made me cringe and writhe in discomfort. Highly recommend.
Voted stupidest horror novel, possibly of all time
Oh Clive Barker, once again your writing has not lived up to the hype. Not that Mister B. Gone was hyped specifically—it seems to have quite the opposite effect on most Goodreads users—but the aura surrounding Barker’s name is that of a master of the genre. Mister B. Gone, the only #ripxii I managed to review, was a joke, and yet I think of it with a strange level of respect. Read my review, written as I read, and you’ll see why.
All in all
After two months of my usual scattershot, unpredictable, mood-led reading choices, I had read a total of 16 books for #ripxii: seven comics, seven novellas (some of which I reviewed here), and two novels. And I have no intention of stopping, as the temperature continues to drop, less natural light reaches me each day, keeping me in front of the fireplace with an open book, waiting for the next haunting to begin.
The full list
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Devil You Know by KJ Parker
Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanen McGuire
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanen McGuire
Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
Wormwood Gentleman Corpse by Ben Templesmith
Locke & Key 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key 2: Head Games by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key 6: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez