One of the most successful and enduring writers of the “horror boom” that occured between the 1970s and the early 1990s, Robert R. McCammon may be best known for his novel Boy’s Life. But throughout his career, he has written three other three other New York Times bestsellers, received a multitude of accolades—including several Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Awards—and drawn countless comparisons to Stephen King.
Born in 1952, McCammon grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and still lives there today. Many of his books are colored by his experience in the American South, often charged with the atmosphere of the eeriest Southern Gothics. It's a quality of his storytelling that has helped him develop a unique brand of horror—one that showcases the frightening aspects of the supernatural and the occult, but does not forget the nightmares of everyday life.
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Look below to see the essential Robert McCammon books that will haunt your dreams.
McCammon’s third novel follows Vietnam vet Evan Reid and his family as they move into the perfectly quaint town of Bethany’s Sin. Of course, like any idyllic town in a horror novel, their new home hides a secret as bloodcurdling as its name—and Evan finds himself in the crosshairs of a murderous cult.
They Thirst transplants the macabre trappings of Hammer Film's Horror of Dracula from Eastern Europe to the City of Angels. Master vampire Prince Vulkan has established his base of operations in Kronsteen Castle, the former home of a murdered movie star. His plan of action? To transform all of L.A. into an army of the undead. As his bloodsucking henchmen take to the city streets, an eccentric cast of characters—including a vengeful orphan, a dying priest, a TV actor, and a tortured homicide detective—must fight for their humanity and their survival.
What if Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” was based on true events? That’s the premise of McCammon's 1984 novel, which introduces us to the latter-day descendants of the Usher dynasty. It has been years since horror novelist Rix has stepped foot in his family’s sprawling ancestral home. But when his father dies unexpectedly, the prodigal son must return once again, and confront the cursed Usher legacy: His family is hiding a terrible secret, and Rix suspects it involves the children who have vanished from the surrounding North Carolina mountains.
McCammon’s first New York Times bestseller and co-winner (along with Stephen King’s Misery) of the 1987 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, Swan Song is a “long, satisfying look at hell and salvation” (Publishers Weekly). Set after the nuclear apocalypse, it tells the story of several seemingly unrelated characters as they trek across the decimated American landscape. Only the eponymous Swan—a young psychic haunted by a bleak vision of the future—knows how they all tie together. She is the key to their survival, but can a 9-year-old girl truly stop the force of pure malevolence threatening to destroy all of civilization?
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Nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (it lost to The Silence of the Lambs; hard to fault it there), The Philadelphia Inquirer called Stinger “the ultimate horror novel.” After a UFO crash lands in West Texas, an otherworldly stranger arrives shortly thereafter, bringing news of an evil alien bounty hunter named Stinger. When Stinger encloses the area within an impenetrable dome, the residents are left at the mercy of his predatory search—and band together to protect his prey. Stinger marked McCammon’s second stop on the New York Times bestseller list.
Called a “page-whipping thriller” by Kirkus Reviews, Mine won Robert McCammon his second Bram Stoker Award. A novel of motherhood and madness, it centers around two very different women: Mary “Terror” Terrell, a psychopathic radical wanted by the FBI, and new mother Laura Clayborne. Their divergent lives collide when Mary, compelled by an obsessive delusion, kidnaps Laura’s baby—sending them both on a deadly chase that will take them to the brink of insanity. And maybe even beyond.
Set in a fictionalized version of 1960s Alabama, Boy’s Life is a Southern coming-of-age horror story as only Robert R. McCammon can tell it. Complete with murder mysteries, ghost cars, possibly-magical bikes, river monsters, and even a dinosaur, the novel mixes sharp observations about day-to-day life with deep meditations on magic and growing up. It not only won McCammon his third Bram Stoker Award, but also the World Fantasy Award, and ensured his position in the pantheon of great horror novelists.
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