31 Flavors of Darkness

Shane’s Recommended Reading – 2019 edition

Every year now since I started reviewing books, I’ve put out a Best of the Year list sometime in January. Some have noted that I have not yet done that this year. But here’s the thing, in all candor. I live with severe ADHD and my memory is so full of holes I sometimes have to look up my own birth year. Thank fuck it’s on my driver’s license. Couple all that with a Catholic sense of guilt and you have the reasoning behind why I’ve been stalling. Each year I produce a list, and each year, I go through all twelve months feeling constantly guilty because every day somebody I forgot pops into my head. Someone who absolutely belongs on there.

So I decided to change it up this year, and I’m dropping the best of… format. I mean, who am I to say what’s best and what isn’t. What’s best to me could suck to you. So instead, below is a by no means all-inclusive list of 31 books I read in 2019 that I highly recommend you should read. But first I want to tell you just a little bit about my year in reading. Just like every year in the last decade, 2019 was a great year for readers of crime and horror fiction. Important works were released by new and veteran authors alike and I haven’t listed a single book here that doesn’t more than deserve your attention, but there are some major standouts, some “most important” things.

For instance, the most important author discoveries (new-to-me) I made were Laurel Hightower with Whispers in Darkness, Samantha Kolesnik with True Crime, Caroline Kepnes with Providence, Shaun Hamill with A Cosmology of Monsters, and John Boden with Walk the Darkness Down. Major horror publications featured The Fearing serial novel from John F.D. Taff, Josh Malerman’s Inspection, Damien Angelica Walters’ The Dead Girls Club, and Shaun Hamill’s A Cosmology of Monsters, with honorable mention to Caitlin Starling’s The Luminous Dead, which was probably my favorite book released in 2019 but I didn’t read it until just last week.

So, favorite horror novel of the year: John F.D. Taff’s The Fearing.

Favorite Crime Novel of the year: Echoes of the Fall by Hank Early (followed very closely by Laird Barron’s Black Mountain).

Favorite new author: This one is hard and I’m going to call it a straight up tie between Laurel Hightower and Samantha Kolesnik.

Favorite collection: Various States of Decay by Matt Hayward. (whoa).

Favorite anthology: Lullabies for Suffering from Wicked Run Press

And here are 31 essential horror and crime works from 2019, noting of course that these are only tens of the 100s of absolutely stunning reads of the last and the last decade in general. Crime is alive and well and horror is in a boom like we haven’t seen since the ’70s and ’80s and there’s never been a better time to be a fan of dark fiction. So go ahead. Find something to love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.