Monday, April 11, 2022

Michael J. Bowler's Top Ten Favorite Horror Novels #Horror #YA #SciFi

I’ve always loved horror stories and my new novel, SHIFTER, has a supernatural element animating the storyline, even though it also veers into the dark sci-fi arena. Like most genres, horror has become somewhat derivative, both in book and movie form, and I don’t often find a new novel I love as much as those on the following list. Happy Reading!

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The book differs from most of the film adaptations, but it’s a brilliant depiction of human arrogance run amuck. It also touches heavily on the nature vs nurture argument, leaning toward nurture as the Creature himself believes he became a monster because he was abandoned by his creator (read: parent) and then horribly mistreated by nearly every human he met. Way ahead of its time, Frankenstein is brilliant.

2. The Other by Thomas Tryon
This psychological horror book, perhaps more than any other, inspired me to become a writer. Set in 1935, it’s the story of identical twins, one good and the other evil. But it’s so much more than that, with a surprise ending that so shocked me that I immediately re-read the entire book to figure out how Tryon had so fooled me. I was fourteen years old and captivated.

3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
I’ve read most of King’s work, but his second published novel remains my favorite. At the time of publication, it being a vampire story was part of the mystery I uncovered as a reader. I loved the vampire, Mr. Barlow, and the characters that made up the town of Jerusalem’s Lot. I liked Mark, the young teen who is one of the heroes, and the fact that the main character, Ben Mears, was a writer, something I aspired to become. The book is long, dark, somewhat bloody, and immensely suspenseful. It’s masterful.

4. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Set in the deep South in the early 60s, this book creates such a living, breathing world for all its characters, filled with local colors and customs, that I couldn’t help but get swept up. On the surface, it’s a murder mystery involving a twelve-year-old boy who, along with his father, finds the murdered body of a man inside a car dumped in a lake. From there the story winds in and around the people of the town and it’s very much a coming-of-age tale, but never outright horror. It’s filled with mysticism and fantasy and quirky subplots, and I love it.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
This book is more readable than Frankenstein in terms of style and language. Also, like Frankenstein, no movie adaptation has captured the full story, nor done it justice. The brilliance of the novel, in my view, is in its construction. The story unfolds entirely as a series of journal entries by the various characters, all of which tie together and advance the story as though it were a standard narrative structure. Stoker creates most of the vampire conventions everyone else has copied, and his writing is compelling. 

6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
This is another vampire tale by the great Matheson, which has never been made into a good movie, sadly. Robert Neville appears to be the only survivor of a nuclear or biological war that has turned the population into vampires. Hiding out in his barricaded home, Neville explores the myths about vampires (starting with Stoker’s book) and attempts to find a biological cause for them, something that he can wrap his mind around, something he can eradicate. It’s a compelling, fascinating take on the genre, walking a fine line between horror and apocalyptic fiction.

7. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
It’s a complex tale of four lifelong friends and their battles with the supernatural. Various plot threads intertwine all involving the ghosts of evil or vengeful people. I’ve read other books by Straub but found this one to be the most memorable.

8. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Ira Levin is a fantastic writer. Most people know the movie version of this story, how young Rosemary is chosen to give birth to the son of Satan. The movie is very straightforward. But what made the book so captivating and so much better was this: even after you’ve finished reading it, you don’t know whether these horrible things actually happened to Rosemary or whether they were all the crazed imaginings of an unstable mind. It’s such a cool conceit because it’s left up to us, the readers, to decide.

9. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Blatty creates mood and tension exceptionally well and this classic story, better known from the film version, is unputdownable once you get started. There is more depth to the relationship of the priests to the demon and the reason for the possession is more clearly articulated than in the film. If you’ve only seen the movie, you need to read the book. But keep the lights on.

10. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Set in a small town in 1960, this book revolves around a group of middle school friends who battle an ancient evil that wants to be reborn in their old schoolhouse and maybe take over the world. Simmons creates vivid imagery and terrifying sequences of horror, in addition to a likable cast of young characters that readers will root for till the end. The plot is twisty and fun. Check it out.

The Healer Chronicles 
Book Two
Michael J. Bowler

Genre: Teen and Young Adult Horror/Science Fiction
Publisher: Michael J. Bowler, Author
Date of Publication: 4/12/2022
ISBN: 978-1-7333290-5-7
ASIN: B09R2K41L7
Word Count: 105K
Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

Tagline: Alex fears his power. Andy craves it.

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Alex and his learning-disabled friends barely survived the events of Spinner, but their nightmare has only just begun. 

Alex’s wheelchair has never stopped him from doing what he wants, but his supernatural power to heal every human ailment known to science has put him in the crosshairs of a dangerous doomsday cult that will stop at nothing to capture him and his long-lost twin, Andy, who can shift illness from one person to another. When the boys combine their “gifts,” they unleash the power to control life and death.

Now Alex, Andy, and the others have been kidnapped by the U.S. military. On a creepy Air Force base in the remote Nevada desert, they must decide who to trust and who to fear while uncovering secrets this base wants to hide from the world. Who is the young boy with unusual abilities who’s treated like a soldier? What is hidden in an ultra-secret hangar that no one can access? And what unnatural experiments are conducted in that closed-off laboratory? 

As Alex unravels these mysteries, he strives to bond with his twin, but Andy is distant and detached, trusting no one. He’s also more attracted to the dangerous power they wield than Alex would like. When misplaced faith in science ignites a hidden lust for supremacy, rescue can only come from the most unlikely source, and Alex must confront a terrible truth. 

The Healer Chronicles continue…

Book Trailer:  

Amazon      Books2Read


He studied his silent brother, staring upward as though hypnotized.

“You okay, Andy?”

Without dropping his gaze in the slightest, Andy said, “You dreamed about Teacher too, didn’t you?”

Alex flinched, his breath momentarily on hold. “Yeah.”

Now it was Martin who looked confused. He shifted position on the chair and that’s when Alex noticed the gun strapped to his belt. Martin studied them both in the dark, his face hidden in shadow. “What are you guys talking about?”

When Andy remained silent, Alex pulled his gaze from his brother’s back and faced Martin. “A teacher we both had. She’s part of the group that’s trying to get me. She says she’s gonna find me no matter where I go.”

Martin’s expression turned from grim to resolute. “I’ll protect you.” He patted the gun in its holster.

Alex eyed his brother once more. “She…she said you belong to her, Andy.”

Alex thought he saw his brother recoil, but the moon wasn’t completely full, so he couldn’t be sure.

“I won’t be in a cage ever again,” Andy said quietly, his voice almost a whisper, as though talking to himself. “I told that to Teacher and I meant it.”

Martin leaped to his feet, startling the boys.

Alex whirled to face him. “What?”

Martin threw a finger to his lips and reached down, pulling out the gun and pointing it over Alex’s head.

Now Alex heard it. Movement. The sound of people trying hard to be quiet, but a slight crunch of gravel gave them away.

Martin waved the boys behind him and darted in front, gun aimed toward the house.

A red light rounded the corner and before Alex could even think of the red light that had killed Juan back at the church, Martin fired his weapon. One pop, muffled, like he had a heavy sock over the barrel. The red light spun crazily and then toppled to the grass.

Alex glanced at Andy with wide eyes. They’d been found!

After that, everything happened so fast Alex could barely process it. Another figure rounded the corner with a gun and fired. A tiny burst of light accompanied the pop of a gunshot, and then Martin grunted, collapsing to the lawn.

“Martin!” Andy dashed around Alex’s chair and knelt by the unmoving form of their protector.

More figures rounded the corner of the house and bore down on them. Alex backed up, but suddenly Andy grasped his hand. Alex felt the rush of power surging through him—just as it had at the church when they’d brought Roy back to life—heavy floodwaters that meant their combined powers had been activated. He looked down at Andy, still kneeling beside Martin’s body.

Andy whispered, “Death, to me!”

Alex stiffened, his vision growing dim, his mind filled with a gray nothingness that terrified him.

As though from miles away, he heard Andy hiss, “Death to them!”

About the Author:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of the five-book urban fantasy series The Lance Chronicles, the mystery-thriller The Film Milieu Series, the supernatural-sci-fi The Healer Chronicles, and several standalone books. He also writes screenplays. His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition, and his sci-fi screenplay, “The God Machine,” was the 2017 Scriptapalozza First Place Winner.

He worked as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Hell Spa,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II.” 

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook. 

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a long-time volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. 

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office. He also adopted a child in 2020.

His goal as an author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world. The most prevalent theme in his writing and his work with youth is this: as both a society, and as individuals, we’re better off when we do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.

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Michael J. Bowler said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today. I love your layout and I'm most appreciative that you showcased my book. Take care!

marisela zuniga said...

this sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing, sounds awesome!

Jolanda said...

Thank you for sharing