The shortlist for the first James Herbert Award for Horror Writing “exemplifies the diversity of modern horror fiction", according to the chair of judges Tom Hunter.
The inaugural shortlist comprises: The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey (Orbit), about humans surviving in a world of zombies; The Troop by Nick Cutter (Headline), about a scouting group on a trip; Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan), about a girl who wakes up after an accident; Bird Box by Josh Malerman (HarperVoyager), featuring a world where the internet dies and then eventually people cannot look outside; The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (Tartarus Press), about the relationship between two London Catholic boys; and An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Titan Books), about a dysfunctional family from the city seeking a new life in Somerset.
Hunter, who is director of the Serendip Foundation, said: “The first year of a new literature prize is always viewed with one eye on the past of the genre and one on the future and, given this is a horror prize, perhaps a third eye watching behind to check for unspoken things lurking in the dark.
“The judges have created a truly compelling shortlist for this inaugural year that exemplifies the diversity of modern horror fiction and reminds us that great horror writing should always scare and fascinate in equal measure.”
Herbert’s daughter Kerry Herbert, who is on the judging panel for the award, said: “My dad was a brilliant storyteller. He gave us characters to relate to, before they got hideously chomped. He showed us a hidden world where social injustice might just be day-to-day living. Most of all, he scared the bejesus out of us. Because it could happen to anyone. A few wrong choices, an earthquake, a plane crash…
“As a fitting legacy, I hope that this shortlist presents the quality and huge diversity of the horror genre. But most of all I hope at least one of these books scares you so much that you can’t sleep, you can’t forget, and you can’t wait to tell your friends about it.”
The other judges are author, editor and critic Ramsey Campbell; Rosie Fletcher, acting editor of Total Film magazine; author and screenwriter Sarah Pinborough; and researcher Dr Tony Venezia, who is visiting lecturer in literary and cultural studies at Birkbeck, University of London and Middlesex Universtiy.
The prize is administered by Herbert’s publishers Pan Macmillan, in partnership with the Serendip Foundation and the estate of Herbert.
The winner of the 2015 prize will be announced in March, and in addition to money will receive a specially designed commemorative statuette.