The list author says: "Welcome to the 5th installment of my Listmania page turner lists! While everything on here might not be horror, the goal is to find the most thrilling, scariest page turners going. This is a work in progress, so check back until I fill it up at 40 and start the next one!"
"This is my tenth Masterton novel, with more to come. When it comes to describing grusome deaths, Masterton is the master. As typical, his plots go a bit over the top, but his novels are always highly entertaining and include a good dose of dark humor. Tengu may have Masterton's darkest ending, which pushes it up to 4 star territory."
"An older Lee novel, his style hadn't evolved yet, but he loads on the explicit sex and tells one entertaining tale. There's a depth and sophistication here that some of his later stuff lacks. Great start and finish with a little lag in the middle. Good characters to boot, loved the burnt out detective. 3 1/2 stars"
"Why the entire country isn't reading this I don't know. This newer, kindler, gentler Masterton dispenses with the sex and overly graphic death scenes in favor of a fast paced, character driven, end-of-America as we know it tale. As usual, the legends behind the evil are captivating and Masterton's sense of humor is intact. This is high entertainment for all. 4 stars."
"I like the idea that Laymon added a supernatural element to this book, but it is a very subtle one. This is more character driven with the balance clearly heavy on sex over violence. There is definite filler in the middle, but it zips along nicely and is sort of median Laymon, which is still worth a read. 3 1/2 stars."
"I knew going in this would not be a typical gore and monster filled Keene effort. I enjoyed the story and kept the pages flipping quickly to see what would happen next. Most of the characters are stereotypes and when they talk amongst themselves, the pacing falters, but the story is well told, some thoughts provoked, and the ending deadly. 4 stars."
"I'd read some bad reviews, so was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this. Lee does go overly heavy on the sexuality, almost too reminiscent of The Black Train, but the characters were interesting (especially the Squatters), and the story engaging to the point that I wanted more. 4 stars."
"The exceptional writing continues with volume II (3-in-1), which finishes up the series. If the ending was a bit bigger and more epic, this might have been the best book I ever read. So maybe it's only one of the top 10 or 20 books I've ever read. Blackwater reads like classic literature more so than modern horror and is recommended for all readers looking for really good fiction. 4 1/2 stars."
"Night Warriors retains Masterton's trademark gory death scenes and adds a fantasy element that works extremely well. Kind of reminded of that '80's movie Dreamscape. Great fun in a classic good vs. evil vein and one of Masterton's absolute best novels. 4 1/2 stars"
"For a special Halloween-time read, you can't do much better than this. The set-up could have been developed a bit more as this is a rather short read, but once the action really kicks in, it builds and builds to a shattering conclusion. 4 1/2 stars."
"Perfect for Halloween reading, Dark Delicacies goes down fast and furious. The stories all run in the 10 page range, with names such as Bradbury, Barker, Laymon, Campbell, and other notable authors, all making contributions. Just nudging out Barker's "Haeckel's Tale" for my fave is John Farris' "Bloody Mary Morning". I need to read more Farris. 3 1/2 stars."
"I liked this even more than "Hardcase". This is fast-paced modern noir at its finest. Simmons keeps the reader involved from start to finish. Nothing too deep, just a page turning, action packed thriller. 4 stars."
"My first Jim Thompson experience was a mixed bag. Each chapter is told in the voice of a new character. Usually I don't care for this, and while I initially got into it, it wore on me. I like Thompson's more literate, deeper style of noir, but wasn't overly sold on this one. 3 stars."
"Second time around with Thompson fared a bit better. Sylistically, this reminded me of Nathanael West of "Miss Lonelyhearts" fame. It's got a quirky depth to it that I like. Thompson's style of noir is non-traditional and rather odd, but compelling just the same. 3 1/2 stars."
"Besides being an excellent collection of Morrell's early horror stories, Morrell's own preface, afterword, and interludes between each story give great insight into the author's life as well as the motivation behind each tale. Didn't grab me early on, but the the stories get better and better as Morrell perfected his craft. 3 1/2 stars."
"Hynd is a smooth and skilled writer and I had no problems flipping the pages, but this may be the most gentle horror story I've ever read. There is very little violence, no sex, no blood. Your grandmother might like this. This nice little fluffy story gets 3 stars."
"Instead of ponying up for the hard to find single novel, the Masterton Omnibus is the way to go. For Devils of D-Day, rather than start with a bloody, gruesome bang, Masterton channels his best Stoker and builds creepy suspense. This is one of the few books that actually scared me. A bit on the short side with a somewhat predictable end, but phenomenal for the most part. 4 1/2 stars"
"More straightforward horror than Little's usual cultural commentary, I always go for the Greek god thing. Little pulls no punches when it comes to violent sexual depravity, but it's central to the narrative, not overly gratuitous, so I'm cool with that. We even get one of Little's better endings. This would have been even better if it was longer. 4 stars"
"Losing your identity scares me. In this novel, the main character walks into work just like normal and no one knows who she is. Things go downhill from there. Much more modern thriller than horror, there are some gruesome bits and the ending ties things up nicely. 3 1/2 stars."
"Lansdale has the wit to match his excellent writing skills, so his books are always an enjoyable read. Leather Maiden is straight-up hard-boiled mystery, with plot elements that I've seen before, but Lansdale is just plain captivating enough to keep me interested from page 1 through to the finish. 3 1/2 stars."
"Finally tracked down a good, cheap copy of Masterton's debut novel. It's not his best, but a fast paced, over-the-top, fun read nonetheless. Now I want to see the movie. How did one go about making a film about a 300 yr old medicine man being born from a tumor in a woman's neck back in 1978 I wonder? 3 1/2 stars."
"Farris wrote a stand out story in Dark Delicacies I, so I wanted to read one of his novels. While parts of this are brilliant, it has the feel of being written in sections, affecting the flow. Farris writes some frightening supernaturally charged scenes, but some loose ends are forgotten and the court room finale wasn't as strong as I would have liked. Could have been great, still 3 1/2 stars."
"I think Cherie Priest is a good writer, but this was just not my cup of tea. Fathom has a YA fantasy vibe, but feels underdeveloped to me. The characters didn't quite resonate, but the prose flow was decent in a light breezy, non-offensive way. 3 stars."
"While not perfect, these 5 novellas further solidify Simmons' reputation as one of the best writers alive. Tackling various themes and genres, Simmons is always superbly researched and sharp, never sloppy or half-baked. And working with the shorter form, his tendency to go on and on in some of his longer novels is absent. 4 stars."
"Not his best, but as usual, Masterton consistently delivers good solid horror novels again and again without fail. Since it didn't happen early on, I thought Edgewise might not include the expected classicly gruesome death scene, but nope, it is here alright, is it ever! 3 1/2 stars."
"Fiends starts off hot with a thrilling novella before settliing down into short story mode. I was a bit disappointed with Laymon's shorter works here, until he knocked me out with the last two imaginative shockers. Great start and finish with a dip in the middle: 4 stars."
"Michael McDowell might be the best undiscovered writer associated with the horror genre. His writing chops match those of Steinbeck or Fitzgerald, but his horror is often understated as character and setting take precedence. On a par with his Blackwater series, my only complaint is that The Elementals wasn't developed further into a much longer work. 4 stars."
"Very well written and unrelentingly dark: disfunction in family and society in a small town are expertly explored with no holds barred or stones left unturned. Compulsively readable, but kind of a downer, I won't forget this one anytime soon. 3 1/2 stars."
"Written in a standard non-fiction style, many strange incidents from UFO's, to unnatural animal/creature appearances, to livestock mutilation are relayed one after the other. While interesting, the book gets more engrossing when the hypotheses are presented towards the end. Too bad there aren't any pictures to back this up. 3 1/2 stars."
"Thrilling in the cinematic sense like a Michael Crichton blockbuster, The Strain is an enjoyable read. The pacing is relatively fast, but it gets a bit repetitive past the halfway mark. Original take on vampires; I will most likely pursue part two at some point. 3 1/2 stars."
"Could this be Masterton's weakest effort? It is part of the Omnibus, and there is no need to get this on its own. It is under 200 pages and more telling than showing. Still it's a fun, breezy read, with some over-the-top, wild bits when you least expect them. 3 stars."
"After reading the excellent "Dead Sea", my expectations were high. Curran has the smarts, literacy, and imagination to tell the best of horror tales. My only minor gripe is the gruesome details get overdone, slowing the pace some and dulling the impact of the powerful prose. 4 stars"
"Simmons is such a good writer: self-assured, well-researched, literate. If it wasn't for his tendencies towards long-windedness, he would have a slew of 5 star classics. While more historical fiction than horror, there are some truly horrific moments here. And while The Terror may have higher and lower points, Drood is consistently excellent, 4 1/2 stars."
"Very literate, reminded me of Harper Lee's writing in To Kill A Mockingbird. Also looks to be a template for several of Bentley Little's novels, minus the dark humor and gore. Very compelling, short tale that could have gone longer for a more satisfying conclusion. 4 stars."
"It's like Dan Simmons went on vacation to Hawaii and came back with this book instead of a tan. Light and breezy compared to Drood or The Terror, Simmons is obviously having fun here. Entertaining, but certainly not his best. 3 1/2 stars"
"Similar to Dan Simmons, Tom Piccirilli boldly steps outside the horror genre at will, and having mastered hard-edged Noir, I find Pic also writes a mean Western. Sort of like a Cormac McCarthy cake with Larry McMurtry icing, I gobbled this up and find myself asking for more. 4 stars."
"After being mildly intrigued with the vampire noir style, the characters engaged me and increased my interest steadily as the novel developed. Unlike The Strain, rather than put me off pursuing the next volume, Already Dead works as a stand alone that also plants seeds to guarantee that I will pursue further adventures. 4 stars"
"Sarah Langan goes 3 for 3 becoming one of the handful of authors that I will read whatever they put out. Influenced in particular by The Shining and Rosemary's Baby, Langan's strength remains writing living breathing characters rather than stereotypes. In fact her strength writing characters might outweigh the horror. 4 stars."
"Masterton adds an emotional depth to a shocking horror scene early on that adds a layer of involvement, and while the middle gets a bit pedestrian, Masterton finishes strong for one of his best novels. The supernatural is understated as 'real' life takes over. Memorable characters & thoughtful subplots add to the intrigue. 4 stars."
"The 'part Stephen King' comparisons are way off. While there is a post-apocalyptic vibe, Coupland abandons the plot to hammer his message into the reader's head without showing ramifications or even putting his message into play. Has it's moments, but the ending kind of killed any momentum. 3 stars."
"Just when I thought I read all the good Bentley Little novels, here comes another winner. Not your typical Little novel, rather than be alienated by the less than redeeming lead character or the incongruous interludes between chapters, my patience was rewarded greatly. And rather than fumble at the finish, the ending is fabulous, one of Little's best. 4.5 stars."