I love horror fiction. Crave it. But lately I've whittled things down a bit to try and figure out what it is in a story or book that really grabs me, forces me to immerse myself in the story, engages me to the point of forgetting I'm reading.
It's the weirdness.
I know what I really love the best (along with maybe
post-apocalyptic fiction) is "the weird tale." This does go back to
the wonderful era with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard in the original Weird
Tales magazine and includes other incarnations of the magazine, including
most recently Ann Vandermeer's editorship of it.
But for my definition of "weird tale," I narrow it down to this,
to two types of stories: (1) the ordinary, reality-based tale where something
weird happens, be it supernatural or uncanny, or other worldly, or even surreal
or magical, and real folks have to deal with it, and (2) stories that emphasize
the weirdness of real life--the Grotesque or Southern Gothic, as genres, and
stories that have a bizarreness to them like a freakshow. For (2), the content
has to be very over the top, though, by my definition.
This would discount things like high-fantasy, for example, because it treats
everything mythical and magical as a truth or as ordinary.
But I digress . . . so, here, with a definite leaning towards horror, is my
list of the 10 Weird Novels That Make Me Question My Own Abilities (an author
could only appear once):
10. Pandora Drive, Tim Waggoner
9. Silk, Caitlin Kiernan
8. Revelation, Bentley Little
7. Sineater, Elizabeth Massie
6. Freezer Burn, Joe R. Lansdale
5. The Keeper, Sarah Langan
4. A Choir of Ill Children, Tom
3. From a Buick 8, Stephen King
2. Gone South, Robert McCammon
1. Shadowland, Peter Straub