Reading The Other Guys

Waiting for Revival has me reading a few other horror writers.  The journey is both fun, and frustrating.  It's frustrating because I know how King writes.  I'm used to the way he builds characters, brackets thoughts, and slowly moves a plot.  Other writers have their own style.  It's fun because the journey can feel very new.

Of course, I read "non-King" all the time.  But I don't read much horror other than Stephen King.  I typically love Follett, classics, Dickens, Poe, Grisham, Clancy and more.  But what about Little, Mccammon, Koontz, Rice and other horror writers?  Well, the truth is, I don't read them much.  I DID; before I went into "King immersion."

Anne Rice used to be a particular joy to read.  Then her books kept getting -- well, bigger and bigger.  I wondered, "Does this lady have an editor?"

So here's what I've  been reading:

1. Dean Koontz, Lost Souls.  

I got this for the car, and actually, it's hard to follow.  Not because of the story, but because the narrator is dry as a pinewood coffin.  The plot moves quickly -- like lightening.  And, I didn't realize when I bought the audio book that I was picking up mid-series.  In fact, it's book FIVE.  Imagine stepping into the Dark Tower with Wolves of the Calla.  Might leave you with some questions, right?

At first I was thinking, "Why isn't he doing more to introduce these characters?"  Well, he did; in the other four novels.  So, Koontz is about to go on pause.  But not because I'm not enjoying his writing.  In fact, one of my favorite Dean Koontz books is Midnight.  (And the one about the dog. . . but I can't remember the books name.)

2. Robert Mccammon, Swan Song.  

I've been listening to this one also while I run.  I need to run more.  The book is fantastic every time I read it.  There's a tunnel scene which I actually think is much scarier than the one in The Stand.  But the two probably should not be compared too closely.  (I know, I have a blog post that does just that.)

Mccammon has a style that is very similar to King's.  A lot of character building, scene set up and a slower plot pace than, say, Koontz.  Mccammon also does something that is reminiscent of Stephen King; he mames some key characters early on.  OH MY!  There is a scene in which a boy has to cut off a man's hand with a meat cleaver.  Let's just say, it's horror at its very best!

And he sucked in his breath and brought the cleaver down with all of his strength on Colonel Macklin’s wrist. 
Bone crunched. Macklin jerked but made no sound. Roland thought the blade had gone all the way through, but he saw with renewed shock that it had only penetrated the man’s thick wrist to the depth of an inch. 
“Finish it!” Warner shouted. 
Roland pulled the cleaver out. 
Macklin’s eyes, ringed with purple, fluttered closed and then jerked open again. “Finish it,” he whispered. 
Roland lifted his arm and struck down again. Still the wrist wouldn’t part. Roland struck down a third time, and a fourth, harder and harder. He heard the one-eyed hunchback shouting at him to hurry, but Macklin remained silent. Roland pulled the cleaver free and struck a fifth time. There was a lot of blood now, but still the tendons hung together. Roland began to grind the cleaver back and forth; Macklin’s face had turned a pasty yellow-white, his lips as gray as graveyard dirt.
. . . it goes on like  that for quite a bit.

3. Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror

I've been reading this before  bed.  Go figure.  It's a mix of scary and stupid.  The scary thing is, this stuff might have actually happened.

The stupid part is the way the story is told.  It feels like children telling a ghost story.  "And then, there was black stuff that came out of our faucet.  And then she started levitating off the bed.  And then the window shut on the girls hand.  And then there were flies all over the window and a voice said to get out.  And then there was a marching band that George heard in the living room, but when he chekced there was no marching band.  And then there were spooky eyes peeking in on us but when we ran outside there were only pigs tracks in the snow."

Anyway, there were some real murders that happened in the house.  My interest was rekindled after seeing a documentary on Netflix titled, "My Amityville Horror."

The only reason Amityville is in any way scary is you think, "This might have happened.  Who  knows!  Demons are real.  And there were real murders that happened in that house!"  Not to mention, the place  just looks haunted.  Who wants a house that looks like it's looking at you?

4. William Malmborg, Text Message.

I've enjoyed this book quite a bit so far; though it reads very much like Richard Laymon.  The books moves very fast.  I would say it's a page turner, but I'm reading it on my phone (seems fitting for a book called Text Message.)

. . . so tell me what non-King horror books you've been reading.


  1. Among the non-King horror I've been reading is the historical fictional novel "Drood", by Dan Simmons. It's an intriguing what if based on the final years of Charles Dickens, and his rivalry with Wilkie Collins. What makes it interesting is the possible insight it gives on the life of two famous authors, and just what the nature of writing is.

    I've also been diving back into the work of Peter Straub. So far, I'm making my way through: Shadowland, The Buffalo Hunter, A Walking Tour of the City, and Mrs. god.

    He's a bit self-conscious, but his fiction has an unnerving, off-kilter quality that all around works.
    I've also checked in on the fiction of Ray Bradbury.


  2. Try some Sarah Langan. Her character-development is very Kingesque, and her writing is superb. I also second the Dan Simmons vote. "The Terror" is truly spectacular and thoroughly researched.