{Team KR Feature} Gavin Kendall’s Best Reads Of 2019

Best Reads Of 2019

Gavin Kendall

2019 was a wonderful year for horror. The bar is continually being pushed higher and it really is getting harder to determine the ‘best’. Below, I have listed 10 books that I really would not hesitate to recommend to anyone, the first nine are in no particular order with the final book being my personal favourite.

I’d love it if the fiends of Kendall Reviews could try and read some of these and maybe write a small review of your own. I could even host the review for you. Reviews are the lifeblood of any author. I hope to hear from some of you soon.

Thank you for supporting Kendall Reviews and here’s to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2020.

Gavin

Shallow Creek: Edited By Tomek Dzido

I’ll say that this is an incredibly strong collection with most of the stories hitting their mark.

Characters and locations reappear in stories very cleverly. Certainly doesn’t feel like a gimmick. To be honest if the stories didn’t all have their own unique voices you’d be forgiven in thinking this was all written by one skilled hand.

This collection is a fantastic introduction to a town and it’s inhabitants that I’d love to revisit. Shallow Creek screams potential. More books, even graphic novels would be more than welcome.

Skillfully written characters, scares, weirdness and a lot of heart (which can be found in a jar on a shelf in an old cabin in Silverpine Forest).

Inspection By Josh Malerman

The Power of Self Thought
The Power of Fear
The Power of Loss
The Power of Hope
The Power of Love
The Power of Freedom
The Power of Change
The Power of Reading
The Power of Inspection

An enthralling experience that proves Josh Malerman is a game-changer that can’t be pigeonholed.

Cosmic Interruptions By Joe R. Lansdale

Genre definition is contentious. This contained a lot of tales that could easily go under the horror umbrella for me.

I’m not the biggest fan of Sci-Fi but the shorts here all engrossed me. It’s certainly down to Lansdale’s sumptuous writing style and my perception that the stories are all set in Star Wars Original Trilogy type settings. (My mind’s eye had everything a bit knocked about and rusty. A subtle blend of the old and new)

Saying that, this isn’t all space ships and aliens. A broad spectrum of topics are covered here including the undead, shotgun-toting nuns and a bisexual King Kong amongst many others.

This as the first time I’ve read Joe’s work so a sizeable collection of shorts may have been a silly introduction. What Cosmic Interruptions has done is made Joe Lansdale one of my ‘must-read’ authors. It’s a select group that I’m excited to invite Joe into.

I have the next collection from SST to read that covers crime/thriller but it’s Volume 3 that I’m most excited for as it’s all about the Horror.

I’d recommend Cosmic Interruptions to anyone that wants well-written fiction that can be controversial whilst underlined with a wicked sense of humour.

Now, I need to find when the At The Drive-In reissue is happening and start picking up those Hap & Leonard novels.

Bones By Andrew Cull

A wonderful collection of stories that are packed with scares, great characters & superb plotting.

Bones is a masterclass in emotional cinematic horror fiction.

Little Black Spots By John F.D. Taff

This is a stunning set of stories, expertly told, beautifully written. John FD Taff is a master storyteller!

The Hungry Ones By Chris Sorensen

The Hungry Ones is the classic sequel. There’s more of everything, more ghosts, more action, more set pieces, more gore, more violence, more fun.

Gone is the slow burn of the original and fans of the poignancy of The Nightmare Room may be disappointed but for me The Hungry Ones is a brilliant and worthy follow up.

Chris Sorensen yet again proves he can hook a reader. Chapters are skillfully written, tempting you to read just one more.

The initial scares are wonderfully subtle and I’d possibly prefer a little more of that to have occurred before the story reveals it’s full hand. This is a big, brash, exciting, action-packed story that hurtles towards a satisfying conclusion whilst teasing Book 3.

Sister is a glorious creation as are the rules Chris has placed within this world. This has legs to run beyond a Trilogy. Situations introduced in The Hungry Ones proves Chris is not afraid to flip a few tables and in Ellen he may have struck the motherload. A sassy character that I’d love to see more of.

As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, If The Nightmare Room is Chris Sorensen’s Star Wars then The Hungry Ones is absolutely his Empire Strikes Back.

Night Shoot By David Sodergren

Night Shoot features storyline elements that’ll be familiar to fans of 80s monster/slasher movies. I do not say this disrespectfully, Night Shoot ticks the boxes for fans of the sleazy, low budget movies we all loved on VHS and wears these homages proudly on its sleeve.

A big old house. ✔
A deadly secret ✔
Characters that you want to die ✔
A classic final girl✔
Stormy weather ✔
Sex ✔
Violence ✔
Gore ✔

But what Sodergren does is skillfully mould the elements into a fast-paced, brutal novel that is every bit as enjoyable as his brilliant debut.

Slowly revealing the casts unlikable sides forces the reader to be on the side of whatever is residing in Crawford Manor. A real skill. I was actually feeling sorry for one of the characters at one point only for his dark past to be revealed in stages to a point where I was smiling like a lunatic as he met a particularly eyewatering demise.

Again, a strong female lead faces incredible horrors. Very well written, and someone you absolutely root for whilst her colleagues all start to die in a variety of gruesome ways.

Reading this I couldn’t help but think that fans of James Herbert or Shaun Hutson will lap this up. Dare I say, David Sodergren could well become this generations Richard Laymon. His writing style is not dissimilar but at least David treats his leading ladies with respect.

Wounds: Six Stories From The Border Of Hell By Nathan Ballingrud

A world-building and story telling masterclass.

Nathan Ballingrud moves into my ‘must read’ category.

His writing though completely unique in style echoes the brilliance of my favourite author Clive Barker and I can’t offer a higher compliment than that.

The Reddening By Adam Nevill

Adam Nevill is simply a word magician. His prose triggers my minds eye like few others.

A stunning story set along the gorgeous English South Coast this book should feature on many a year-end ‘best of’ list.

Go into this book knowing no more than the blurb/synopsis reveals and you’ll be utterly captivated by Nevill’s pitch-perfect plotting.

The Chapters that alternate between the two female leads are some of the best examples of pacing/plotting I’ve read in a long while.

The Reddening is initially a slow burn tale that ramps up to be a pacey multi-faceted horror that is so well written Adam Nevill is seriously starting to challenge Clive Barker as my favourite author.

My Book Of 2019 is...

There is no question that this is my book of the year.

This book will break your heart in its brutal portrayal of a mother’s grief and slowly squeeze the air from your lungs with some of the finest supernatural writing you’ll read.

With flashes of The Amityville Horror, Session 9 and Hunter Shea’s Creature and one of the best homages to The Omen you will ever read, Remains is brilliantly written by a genuine master of emotional cinematic horror.

I’m not sure I can think of a better debut novel.

Andrew Cull is a name that will have established horror authors looking over their shoulders.

Gavin Kendall

I’m living in the South-East of England between London and Brighton. I’ve been married to Laura since 2000 and have two daughters. (Emily & Freya). I’ve always had a passion for horror and decided, as a hobby, that I’d like to create a blog to showcase this fascination with the darker genres.

I started Kendall Reviews in January 2017, initially to host my reviews of books and music that I had in my sizeable collections. Pretty quickly, this became a passion project and morphed into a blog that wanted to help PROMOTE HORROR.

I want to thank all the people that interact with the blog and of course to the rest of the Kendall Reviews team.

Please find all my contact details here

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