While discovering a new favorite author is great, sometimes you need something a little more familiar. We all have our favorite authors, the ones whose books find us as much as we find them, or the ones who stick with us and send us searching in a frenzy late at night to find that one story we haven’t read yet. So when an author we love pops up with a brand new work or collection, it’s an event. Anticipation builds. And even if it might not always live up to our astronomical expectations, it’s always great to see our favorite author is still putting out work for us to devour. Even in the age of the internet, though, it’s a little difficult to find all the newest work by our favorite authors, so with that in mind, here are five books coming out this year from established legends of the craft, all for your reading pleasure.
The Dead Hours of Night, Lisa Tuttle
Tuttle’s been a master of a brand of horror that mixes elements of realism and absurdism known as “the strange” for decades now, ever since A Nest of Nightmares first surfaced to unnerve and unsettle readers. The Dead Hours shows that she’s kept right along doing it, featuring a wide selection of stories from her prolific career, consisting of stories about unusually sinister pets, alchemy, and mysterious authors.
Through it all, though, like the best authors of the strange, Tuttle keeps the focus on the human drama, augmented (and made deeply upsetting) by things like parasitic spirits and a bizarre housepet that feeds on human blood. These are stories with a lot of heart, which somehow makes them all the more unsettling, given their connection to “the real.” Part of Valancourt’s excellent Monster, She Wrote line, Dead Hours shows why Tuttle’s been a favorite for a while now, and offers those clamoring for more of her work an enticing volume to sate their thirst for some truly, truly strange stories.
Standout stories: “The Book That Finds You,” “My Pathology”
Somebody’s Voice, Ramsey Campbell
Campbell has been giving us gothic nightmare fuel over the span of a long and storied career, featuring everything from a Lovecraftian cosmos to accursed objects to small towns with terrifying rituals. That career has in no way slowed down recently, with the acclaimed novel The Wise Friend hitting shelves last year and Somebody’s Voice coming to terrify the everloving hell out of readers this June.
Voice follows Alex, a crime writer who, after being accused of appropriating from abuse victims, decides to ghostwrite an abuse memoir by a man named Carl Batchelor. But as is the case with so many stories of this type, Carl’s story is a lot twistier and more unnerving than it originally appears, and Alex’s mind may not be able to take the strain as he’s sent spiraling down the rabbit hole. While there are certainly familiar themes within Campbell’s works (for instance, people investigating things they really shouldn’t have), the author has a way of finding new and unsettling ways to terrify his audience, and we’re sure that Somebody’s Voice will be no exception.
The Children God Forgot, Graham Masterton
Masterton, long considered a grandmaster of British horror for his wild premises, gruesome horrors, and unusual shocks, returns this year with this sequel to his supernatural procedural thriller Ghost Virus. Children begins with a severely abnormal pregnancy after a car accident, and then follows detectives Pardoe and Patel as they unravel a strange supernatural mystery involving the occult, the sewers beneath London, the unusual pregnancy, and a gigantic fatberg crawling with mutant things that look like children.
Masterton’s always had a gift for the lurid and unusual in his books, and Children is no exception, conjuring up images of deformed children and grisly operating tables where tentacles burst forth from someone’s womb “like a bowlful of thick cannelloni.” It’s a book where the horror’s so vivid it will linger, just as it does with Masterton at his best.
Later, Stephen King
King, a fan of a good crime story (and a pretty good writer of the same, if his recent track record is anything to go by) comes to us again with an entry in Hard Case Crime’s rather illustrious list, Later. Narrated by Jamie Conklin, a young man able to talk to the deceased, Later continues both King and Hard Case’s hot streak as it pits its young protagonist against a serial murderer who threatens to continue murdering from beyond the grave.
King’s knack for natural-sounding dialogue serves him well, tying these threads together into a gripping coming-of-age crime-horror story. He also has a gift for authentic-sounding young protagonists, and that combined with some absolutely grisly death scenes is enough to be well worth the price of admission.
The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie, M. Rickert
Rickert’s last collection, You Have Never Been Here, was a gorgeous, lush, and bizarre work, featuring stories of dark fantasy, horror, and a certain melancholy, all of them deeply unusual and haunting. Her work, featured on Tor.com and in numerous anthologies and publications, has definitively established her as a major voice in the arena of the strange.
Rickert appears to be continuing that streak with The Shipbuilder of Bellfairie, a fantasy-mystery novel every bit as haunting and unusual as her stories that promises to deliver the story of deeply flawed characters and just the right amount of magic to keep readers hooked. It drops this July, and it can’t come nearly soon enough.
Editor’s Note: Preorder links aren’t live for this book yet – we’ll add them when they are, and in the meantime, keep an eye on Undertow’s social media for more info.