The most brilliantly bat-shit novels

Why am I passionate about this?

I read widely and in many genres, so coming up with a thematic list was a difficult task. However, in working on my forthcoming novel Dead Ends, in which a quiet neighborhood descends into paranoia and insanity driven by fear, politics, and technology, I sought out novels that engaged with conspiratorial thinking and violence. I admire writers who don’t hold back and fully engage with their characters and material, particularly if it means going to dark, imaginative and strange places in their work. Please keep an eye out for Dead Ends, coming from Flame Tree Press in 2023.


I wrote...

Boy in the Box

By Marc E. Fitch,

Book cover of Boy in the Box

What is my book about?

Ten years ago a mysterious and tragic hunting accident deep in the Adirondack Mountains left a boy buried in a storied piece of land known as Coombs’ Gulch and four friends with a terrible secret. Now, Jonathan Hollis and brothers Michael and Conner Braddick must return to the place that changed their lives forever in order to keep their secret buried. What they don’t realize is that they are walking into a trap—one set decades earlier by a supernatural being who is not confined by time or place: a demon that demands a sacrifice.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of She Was Found in a Guitar Case

Marc E. Fitch Why did I love this book?

David James Keaton’s newest novel is funny and brutal. After police inform Dave that the body of his wife was found in a guitar case, he does the exact opposite of what any normal individual would do; he goes on a road trip seeking answers. Guided only by his fantasies, paranoia, and coincidences, Dave and some stragglers he picks up along the way traverse a mysterious American landscape peppered with rumors of invisible prisons, insane theories, and violence. Keaton’s work and narrative pace alternate between brilliant and infuriating but, by the end, you’ve gone on a journey that feels as mysteriously connected and deep as the rivers that supposedly flow through the center of the Earth in this enigmatic, brilliant, bat-shit story.

By David James Keaton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Was Found in a Guitar Case as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A CULT CLASSIC WAITING ON ITS CULT.” —William Boyle, author of City of Margins

Recently fired from his job, Dave sets out on a manic, misguided quest for answers up the food chain of law enforcement corruption and down the increasingly bizarre Florida coastline. Battling cops, biker gangs, backwoods Bigfoot hunters, and getting tangled in tourist traps (both figurative and literal), he eventually stumbles onto a conspiracy involving body cameras, love locks, and a grand psychological experiment which may reveal the revolving doors and invisible walls of the nation’s prison system.


Book cover of The Second Shooter

Marc E. Fitch Why did I love this book?

Nick Mamatas never writes a typical novel and his latest offering is no exception. Built on the very real rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding mass shooting events in the United States, Mamatas' work offers hints and innuendos throughout of an invisible force seeking to create chaos, death, and destruction in collusion with a conspiracy theorist radio host fanning the flames. Like a real-life conspiracy theory, it’s all connected — somehow. Mamatas’ ability to draw a plot line and themes so at odds with our general perception of reality, the story, sadly, begins to reflect our real world of conspiracy theories and political paranoia in what has become a bat-shit age of American life.

By Nick Mamatas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Second Shooter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There was video of the second shooter. There was video."

In the first reports of every mass shooting, there's always mention of a second shooter-two sets of gunshots, a figure seen fleeing the scene-and they always seem to evaporate as events are pieced together.

Commissioned by a fringe publisher to investigate the phenomenon, journalist Mike Karras finds himself tailed by drones, attacked by a talk radio host, badgered by his all-knowing (and maybe all-powerful) editor, and teaming up with an immigrant family of conspiracy buffs.

Together, they uncover something larger and stranger than anyone could imagine-a technomystical plot to 'murder…


Book cover of Sisyphean

Marc E. Fitch Why did I love this book?

An absolute achievement of imagination, Torishima’s collection of novellas and novelettes is set in a future in which humans, machines, and alien life are as intertwined as the stories themselves. Attempting to sum up the various horrifying, chaotic and enigmatic worlds of this book is a fool’s errand; its breadth is staggering and can only be read to be understood. Even then, you will likely be left with more questions than answers. Sisyphean stretches itself to the breaking point and then challenges the reader to keep going, to open one’s mind to a torrid future populated by creatures who retain their humanity, but little else. Thankfully, Torishima offers his own illustrations to help you along.

By Dempow Torishima, Daniel Huddleston (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sisyphean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even after the world and humanity itself have been rendered nearly unrecognizable by genetic engineering, a day in the office can feel...Sisyphean.

The company stands atop a tiny deck supported by huge iron columns a hundred meters high. The boss there is its president-a large creature of unstable, shifting form once called "human." The world of his dedicated worker contains only the deck and the sea of mud surrounding it, and and the worker's daily routine is anything but peaceful. A mosaic novel of extreme science and high weirdness, Sisyphean will change the way you see existence itself.

Japan's own…


Book cover of Dread in the Beast

Marc E. Fitch Why did I love this book?

From bat-shit to actual shit, Dread in the Beast is one of the darkest dives into the bowels of humanity — literally. A work of horror centered around filth and foulness, Jacob’s brilliant work weaves a violent landscape with odes to Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley, and pagan gods and goddesses. This isn’t a conspiracy novel, it's just a full-on dive into dark depths and that is one of the reasons it resonates so deeply: Jacob doesn’t hold back, not a bit. To experience an author so fully engage and let herself go into the darkness is as brilliant to behold as it is uncomfortable.

By Charlee Jacob,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dread in the Beast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DREAD IN THE BEAST used to be a novella about the goddess of waste and the king of wasters. Now it is a novel, stuffed full of the gruesome and horrible. Taken from the mythologies and histories of humankind, it follows the trail of the Mother Spririt of the worst that the world is capable of producing. From the catacombs of ancient Rome where a blasphemous sect twisted the message of the early Christians--to modern America with its obsession with violence, deities and saints and the reincarnations of beasts battle over sublime and profane, where the very reasons for existence…


Book cover of The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Marc E. Fitch Why did I love this book?

This trilogy collection is perhaps the granddaddy of conspiracy novels because, frankly, it encompasses nearly all of them — at least at the time it was written — then weaves in fictional mythos, occult religions, fascist political movements, and a post-modern deconstruction of itself. It’s equal parts fun, crazy, confusing, and challenging. The fact that Shea and Wilson had the capacity to create such a mammoth work encompassing so many far-reaching, interconnecting lines of conspiratorial thought makes it work to behold, not only for its brilliance but also for its influence. This is not The DaVinci Code; it’s bigger, deeper, more imaginative, and more complex.

By Robert Shea, Robert Anton Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Illuminatus! Trilogy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with sex and violence--in and out of time and space--the three books of The Illuminatus are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the coverups of our time--from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill.


You might also like...

Shadow of the Hidden

By Kev Harrison,

Book cover of Shadow of the Hidden

Kev Harrison Author Of Below

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Traveller Horror addict Reader

Kev's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It’s Seb’s last day working in Turkey, but his friend Oz has been cursed. Superstition turns to terror as the effects of the ancient malediction spill over, and the lives of Oz and his family hang in the balance. Can Seb find the answers to remove the hex before it’s too late?

Journey with Seb, Oz, and Deniz across ancient North African cities as they seek to banish the Shadow of the Hidden.

Shadow of the Hidden

By Kev Harrison,

What is this book about?

It’s Seb’s last day working in Turkey, but his friend Oz has been cursed. Superstition turns to terror as the effects of the ancient malediction spill over and the lives of Oz and his family hang in the balance. Can Seb find the answers to remove the hex before it’s too late?

From Kev Harrison, author of The Balance and Below, journey with Seb, Oz and Deniz across ancient North African cities as they seek to banish the Shadow of the Hidden.


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