Late last week, we covered the Nebula Award, one of the major honors in the science fiction and fantasy writing; this week, the nominations for the biggest award in horror have been announced, with an impressive list of works vying for a twisted haunted house trophy.
The Bram Stoker Awards are a major achievement in the horror world, issued annually by the Horror Writers Association since 1987. They recognize ‘superior achievement’ in a number of long and short-form categories. Notable past recipients include Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Ellen Datlow, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Here’s the books nominated for this year’s awards:
Superior Achievement in a Novel
Suffer the Children, by Craig DiLouie
One day, every child across the world falls deathly ill. After an agonizing three days, each is returned to their grieving parents. Upon their return, however, they’re different: back to their normal selves, but only when they’re feeding on blood, which begs the question—how far would you go to keep your child alive? This book offers hair-raising scenes of suspense, but the premise alone is horrifying for any parent.
Jade Sky, by Patrick Freivald
Matt Rowley is a commando for the International Council on Augmented Phenomena, hunting down monsters. But secretly, he’s a monster himself, and must constantly shout down imagined whispers urging him to commit terrible acts of violence. This is dark story of the infectious nature of violence, and how it can become all consuming to the emotionally careless.
Beautiful You, by Chuck Palahniuk
Mousey Penny Harrigan meets and is inexplicably whisked away by multimillionaire C. Linus Maxwell, who shows her the high life in New York City and Paris. It’s only later that she discovers she’s part of an experiment for a feminine product sold through a store called Beautiful You, devices that prompt millions of women to, er, lock themselves away from everything, with disastrous consequences. Inspired by the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, Palahniuk has received praise for this uncomfortable satire.
The Vines, by Christopher Rice
The heiress to Spring House attempts to commit suicide after her husband betrays her, awakening a dark presence on the grounds and throwing the household into chaos. In the aftermath, Nova, the daughter of the plantation’s groundskeeper, tries to get to the bottom of the disaster. Christopher Rice, son of Anne Rice, seems to have learned a couple of things about Southern Gothic literature, and has been enjoying a solid career in the field.
Blood Kin, by Steve Rasnic Tem
The alternating stories of Sadie Gibson and her grandson Michael Gibson, set almost eighty years apart in the Appalachians, tie together ghosts, snake-handling, and witchcraft in a grim Southern Gothic story. As Michael looks into family’s past, he discovers hidden truths about Sadie’s past that might destroy them both. A previous winner of the Stoker, Steve Tem hails from the heart of the Appalachians.
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Mr. Wicker, by Maria Alexander
Alicia Baum commits suicide in a desperate bid to uncover the forgotten past in The Library of Lost Childhood Memories. There, she’s confronted by the Librarian, Mr. Wicker, who informs her that said memory is the root cause of her suicide and the misery in her life. That is only the start to an intriguing, horrifying tale of madness, trauma, and regret.
Forsaken, by J.D. Barker
A horror author creates a wrenching tale of a witch in 1692, a story that seems to come from thin air and with little effort. It’s a book so good, it’s guaranteed to help him become a major author in the field, with one catch: what he’s written might not be fiction, and something is coming through a door he’s opened. This wonderfully meta novel has earned heaps of praise.
Consumed, by David Cronenberg
After the brutal death of a famous couple, a journalist begin to look deeper into the gruesome murders, while another investigates an unlicensed surgeon. Their disparate paths soon merge in an intricate plot that Stephen King called, “an eye-opening dazzler.” Cronenberg is known for his surreal films, and he’s translated his grotesque vision to the pages of his debut novel.
Return of the Mothman, by Michael Knost
When Ted Browning returns home to West Virginia to care for his ill grandmother, he begins to hear stories of the Mothman. He doesn’t believe it until he comes face to face with the creature, forcing him to go great lengths to protect his family. Knost earned the Stoker award before, and covered the Mothman in a prior book, The Mothman Files.
Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
Something is out there, killing people, something that can’t be looked upon. Anyone who lays eyes on it is driven to violent madness. Years after humanity is devastated by this unspeakable mystery, a family attempts flee to safety, blindfolded, while something follows close at their heels. Hugh Howey and Peter Straub have raved about this harrowing debut.
Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
Intentional Haunting, by Jake Bible
14-year-old Cotton isn’t afraid of ghosts—the local bullies and his abusive father are far scarier—and has no qualms about taking refuge is a local haunted house filled with restless souls. When a family of ghost hunters is brought in to solve a series of murders, Cotton has to find a way to save his unquiet family and friends. This one has drawn comparison to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Stephen King’s The Shining.
Phoenix Island, by John Dixon
16-year-old Carl Freeman, violent and temperamental, stampeded through series of foster homes before being sent off to Phoenix Island, a sadistic facility for children with no future. There, he’s given a gift in a secret government lab, something that transforms him in unexpected ways. The inspiration for the short-lived CBS series Intelligence, this is a sci-fi twist on Lord of the Flies.
Unmarked (The Legion Series Book 2), by Kami Garcia
In Unbreakable, Kennedy Waters accidentally set free a demon. Now, she has to work with other Legion members to hunt it down. As she does, she learns that everything she thought she knew about her family might be a lie. This intriguing series, set in a world of ghost hunters, angry spirits, and Illuminati, is from one of the co-writers of the Beautiful Creatures series.
Passionaries, by Tonya Hurley
In this follow-up to Precious Blood, Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy have been reincarnated. They might be saints, but they still have to make sense of the world around them. Will they follow their destinies, or forge their own paths?
All Those Broken Angels, by Peter Adam Salomon
Richard Harrison last saw his friend Melanie when they were six, when she died, but she’s remained with him, a shadow that’s kept him company. That is, until someone claiming to be Melanie arrives and upends his life in this evocative, emotional haunting story.
The Bram Stoker awards will be awarded at the 25th World Horror Convention, to be held in Atlanta in May. You can see the rest of the final ballot over on their website.