Yet my reading this year was unfortunately filled with dud books like the burnt kernels at the bottom of a popcorn bag. One straight bomb after another, I despaired of the era I was also so enamored of. Why do I keep reading this crap, I wondered. I turned to crime novels (Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett) for relief.
Yet I did enjoy some fantastic vintage works, a few titles of which belong to my favorites of all time (I reread The Haunting of Hill House after the premiere of its Netflix adaptation; it remains one of the finest novels I've ever encountered). I think you'll dig these titles below; they offer a good breadth of the genre, from "mainstream" to pulp horror, from the graphic to the poetic, from the thrilling to the thoughtful.
The Tribe by Bari Wood (1980) - A fully-realized horror thriller about a creature from Jewish folklore bringing vengeance and mayhem to New York City.
The Flesh Eaters by L.M. Morse (1979) - Grim and grimy, this pulp-tastic tale of cannibalism and depravity, set in the filthy Middle Ages, is deliciously sleazy.
Lovers Living, Lovers Dead by Richard Lortz (1977) - A Seventies psychosexual romp with a bonkers shocker to explain why a professor's wife is—well, you'll see.
Wilding by Melanie Tem (1992) - Female werewolf clans confront generational discord. Astute yet impressionistic, heartbreaking and bloody.
The Spirit by Thomas Page (1978) - Sasquatch adventure horror. I'd place it in the eco-horror subgenre.
Winter Wolves by Earle Westcott (1988) - Just what the title says. Written with a naturalist's eye, with a vivid frigid locale and some spooky titular creatures.
Koko by Peter Straub (1988) - Straub to the rescue! A mystery/serial killer/psychological thriller about the aftermath of Vietnam, Koko is a large-scale mainstream novel that's horror-adjacent; powerful, unsettling, and often brilliant.
Such Nice People by Sandra Scoppettone (1980) - A sadly relevant how-we-live-now novel about a teenage boy's descent into madness and the horror his family then experiences. Review to come!