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The Best Horror of the Year Kindle Edition
From Ellen Datlow (“the venerable queen of horror anthologies” (New York Times) comes a new entry in the series that has brought you stories from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman comes thrilling stories, the best horror stories available.
For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the eleventh volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, Stephen King, Linda Nagata, Laird Barron, Margo Lanagan, and many others.
With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers.
About the Author
- ASIN : B08JH56KVR
- Publisher : Night Shade Books (September 1, 2020)
- Publication date : September 1, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1952 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 599 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #488,057 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from the United States
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Between plague panic, protests and the cyclical exercise in partisan self-delusion, IQs plummeted and insane blew off the charts. I've been trapped alone in my own company for too long with nobody but the TV to talk to.
Then I watched HBO's "Chernobyl."
Can a look back at 2019's fictional horrors even hope to be anything more than quaint? Well, I appreciate that editor Ellen Datlow and her crew tried, even if it's only to offer an escape for a while. I hope they're all healthy and safe and secure enough to continue doing what they do. Let's look back to when all we had to worry about was Cthulhu and the odd bloodsucker/flesheater.
There's some unwieldy typographical cleverness in the title of Paul Tremblay's (trembly, that's a good name for a horror author) opener, so I'll just call it "Haunted House Tour." The narrator sifts through a box of keepsakes from his childhood in the 1980s, a "spotlight shinning on who I was and who I've become." Either that's a "Simpsons" reference (and "Haunted House Tour" is full of such slacker touchstones), or the typos are back. Ironically, the narrator engaged in boozy, melancholic reverie is neglecting an overdue editing job. What's in the box? What's in the box??!! (There's another slacker reference for you.) At the bottom is a drawing that provokes restless unease, more remember-the-'80s flashbacks and several more typos. "Haunted House Tour" is a likable, if inexcusably sloppy, bit of nightmare nostalgia, but all the next-big-thing hype around Tremblay over the past few years promised substantially more than that. If I may engage in nostalgia myself, back in the '90s, a prominent genre editor (oooohhh, what was her name?) said, "The lead story of an anthology can be the most important story in the book." This is rather a poor example.
More nostalgia, fewer mistakes in Gordon White's "Birds of Passage" as another haunted narrator looks back on a childhood what's-that-in-the-woods camping trip "adventure" with his father. White takes more care in his writing than Tremblay but gets carried away in his attempts to generate atmosphere to the point of meditations on the inner lives of creek gar and "their fish wives and fish children." After a few florid paragraphs of this, the reader is liable to start hearing a corny Richard Dreyfuss voiceover in his head. A good editor might have helped White peel back the layers of overwriting and saved a decent story from smothering -- or at least prevented the use of the same labored simile on facing pages.
A Joe Lansdale yarn is like a loony little taste of home (though I come from a much browner spot at the edge of Texas). Some doubters might accuse hisownself of spinning tall tales, but I assure you: He's not exaggerating by much. In "The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team," he risks inspiring the state's religiously rabid football fans to new levels of lunacy. Sharp objects, that's all they need. Let the ladies rough-house, too.
In the meandering, maddeningly chatty ("The next few weeks were uneventful, but also very eventful.") "The Night Nurse," beleaguered mother Esme could use a witch/nanny to help manage her three tykes and semi-absentee husband. Kind of like author Sarah Langan could use an editor to help manage her use of the word "literally." Being unlikable is a forgivable trait in a character (see the cast of nasties in this book's finale); being not so bright, not so much. Esme, a wannabe journalist, waits until the final pages of this interminable housewife horror before she does a quick dash of due diligence Internet research into the background of the creepy old woman she took into her home. Unfortunately, Googling the facts after-the-fact is not an uncommon practice among reporters.
I don't quibble about category so much as quality. Neither S. Qiouyi Lu's "As Dark As Hunger" nor Robert Shearman's "I Say [I Say, I Say]" is horror. But while Lu's lesbian/mermaid/lesbian love triangle tragedy is little more than ho-hum digest fantasy (and lame vegan allegory, I suspect), Shearman's dark absurdity injects offstage life, dimension and even poignancy into a crusty old pub joke.
In Ren Warom's "Nor Cease You Never Now," parents are haunted by a traffic accident. Or twins are haunted by a boating accident. Or the fens are haunted by cannibals. I donno, you tell me. My copy didn't come with the decoder ring, so I'm left to deduce just one thing: Th s s ory su ks.
In Diana Peterfreund's "Playscape," a mother waits for her toddler at the bottom of the playground slide. Will he make it down? The suspense! I got more than enough of this kind of thing from "The Night Nurse," though "Playscape" doesn't exact as big a toll on reader time or patience.
I didn't think "Adrenaline Junkies," Ray Cluley's extended Do the Dew commercial, could get much dopier after the Mexican flying snake bats attacked his skydiving thrill-seekers. Then the porn-hot lesbian started singing Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." Despite all the "hurtling" though the air, the death-defying descent lasts long enough for our grieving heroine to learn to love again.
Flashbacks to childhood are big in Volume Twelve. In "Below," Simon Bestwick takes us to 1986 Manchester where the kids are "bagsying" outta control! (I'm usually pretty good with British slang, but I have no idea what I just wrote.) Stumpy and his sometime friend/protector Martyn skip off school to see the damned in Shudehill. "They've got nuddy mags." (Are those like nudie mags in the States?) The truants shoplift some pre-Internet paper pulchritude and scarper, taking refuge in a derelict building with rotten floorboards that give way to a netherworld of zombified dandies, ape-maggots and a sweatshop to give Nike nightmares. "Below" is difficult to take seriously, but it's a fun read -- like an R-rated "Goonies."
There's a fine line between stretching the boundaries of storytelling and artyfarty onanism. Sam Rebelein stays on the right side of that line (staring at Ren Warom flogging it on the other). His cascading clauses flout convention, but "My Name Is Ellie" is a gruesome charmer about marrying into a family with houseguests by the hundreds to be dismembered.
"Cut yourself from nape to navel and let your guts spill out," says a bar babe in Daniel Braum's "How to Stay Afloat When Drowning." It's a nice bit of alliteration but hardly practical anatomically since the nape is on the back of the body and the navel is on the front. The gibberish continues ("he insists we call just him Captain Mike," "the boatman are bickering," "the boatmen men yell at each other") throughout this beach blanket bungle of surf, suicide and slipshod editing. "The shape I thought was the woman is not a person at all but a big owl perched on road kill." It's a common mistake.
Reader reaction may vary, but whatever horror might be found in this volume is largely concentrated in its final 70 pages. Last year, I said Datlow's annual roundup almost always includes at least one should-be classic bound for the canon. I expect horror fans will be reading and rereading "The Butcher's Table" by Nathan Ballingrud for years to come (once the typos are cleaned up). The salty brigands of the pirate ship Butcher's Table ferry a group of Satan worshipers "into the Dark Water" for the Feast of the Cannibal Priest and "a wedding at the lip of Hell." "So it's a love story then," Captain Toussaint says. After a perilous voyage pursued by carrion angels (something like the creature depicted on this book's cover) through a gantlet of Hodgson tentacles, the fearless crew sits down for dinner in a dead angel's skull. The table is set, the cutlery is laid out, but not all the guests are secure in their place on the food chain. Ballingrud gives us an epic adventure of infernal swashbuckling, burnin' love, double-(upside-down)crosses and gore by the gallon. If memory serves, it's also a kind of prequel to "The Atlas of Hell," a standout from "Best Horror" Volume Seven, which gives me an excuse to revisit that essential.
I'm feeling more charitable after reading "The Butcher's Table," but Volume Twelve is bad. At times, it's "Dead Don't Die," what-were-you-thinking? bad. The badness becomes all the more perplexing upon perusal of the "Honorable Mentions" list. There was work available by reliable professionals including Laird Barron, Michael Cisco, Jeffrey Ford, Brian Hodge, Joyce Carol Oates and Steve Rasnic Tem. Not to say these authors are infallible, but they've diligently developed their craft, and they practice it at a consistently high level. Critics must allow for subjectivity and taste. But then there's unequivocally inferior fiction by people who either don't fully grasp or simply ignore the fundamental ways words work and fit together to express coherent thought. If Datlow wants to run an amateur showcase, that's dandy, it's her series. But it shouldn't be billed as the Best when the best authors in and around the genre are relegated to the also-ran pages. I don't take back what I said at the beginning of this review. I'm thankful for the diversion. As frustrating as a bad story can be, time spent on it is time not spent watching the world fall apart outside my window. I just wish "Best Horror" had distracted me with well-written, sharply edited and SCARY stories.
First off, I haven't finished this volume yet, but I have hit the 3/4 mark. So far this is absolutely the worst edited of the volumes that I've read in this series. The stories are averaging about 3 typos each. Some have ni typos, while others have 5+. Many of the typos are so bad that I had to go back and reread the sentence 3-4 times to figure out what word it was supposed to be. I can live with a few typos, they're annoying but don't impact the volume as a whole. What does impact my opinion of the volume is the stories that were chosen.
A large majority of the stories so far are horror in only the broadest sense. Quite a few are straight forward fantasy stories ("The Senior Girls Bayonet Drill Team", "As Dark As Hunger"), one is almost an art piece that is in no way horror ("I Say (I Say, I Say, I Say"), and a few are arguably dramas about severely psychologically traumatized individuals ("-Ice Cold Lemonade $.25- Hounted House Tours: 1 Per Person"). The stories are good for the most part and there are some truly chilling stories ("The Puppet Motel" for one), there's just too few actual horror stories.
It's worth a read, just don't go into it thinking that all the stories are horror, or that they'll be spine chilling
Top reviews from other countries
It's like having the very best possible guide in familiar, and new, territories--you never know what gems you're going to be introduced to.
Thank heavens for e-books, otherwise there would be absolutely no room on the many bookshelves at home.
It's jaw-dropping how much work must go into these collections, and the results more than demonstrate that. I can't remember a missed step in any of them--and I have them all.
If you are a true fan of horror (not sparkly romantic "vampires", or slash-and-trash hillbilly stories, or any of the illegitimate off-shoots of true intelligent, articulate horror, I can't recommend her highly enough.
Thank you so much, again and always, Ms. Datlow