Since the year 2000, live-action horror has gone through several popular, and inevitably overdone, phases, some better than others but all contributing the genre’s highest level of mainstream acceptance in decades, if not ever. First came the wave of Japan-inspired ghost stories and remakes of foreign movies, triggered by 2002’s box office hit The Ring; then, two years later, the controversial “torture porn” stretch of hard-R-rated flicks piggybacked on the successes of Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005). Once the Saw franchise hit its sadly redundant sixth film, audiences demanded a change, which came in the form of 2009’s made-for-nothing, found-footage phenomenon, Paranormal Activity, the impetus, along with the sci-fi/horror pic Cloverfield (2008), for the visual style’s current dominance (even in television shows like The River). And, in the last few years, vampires (Twilight, True Blood) and zombies (The Walking Dead) have once again become in vogue.

On the written page, horror has been even more substantial, touching upon all of those trends—save for found-footage, of course—and adding subtext that could only be achieved through prose and, subsequently, the mind’s eye. This week, however, scary literature is taking a look back at the classic monsters of yesteryear, with the release of first-time author Brian McGreevy’s buzz-worthy novel Hemlock Grove (available today). Set in a Pennsylvania steel town, Hemlock Grove reconfigures the werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster mythos into a whodunit murder mystery involving high school kids and an upper class family.

It’s an notable debut for McGreevy, but, ultimately, Hemlock Grove falls short of ranking amongst the fiction genre’s strongest books over the last 12 years. To see what does place within that honored distinction, check out The 25 Best Horror Novels Of The New Millennium. Your precious Kindle is about to get a workout.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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