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The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three

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What frightens us? What unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw, tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the nineteen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single aut What frightens us? What unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw, tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the nineteen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. Table of Contents: Summation 2010 by Ellen Datlow At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver City of the Dog by John Langan Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge When the Zombies Win by Karina Sumner-Smith --30-- by Laird Barron Fallen Boys by Mark Morris Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert The Fear by Richard Harland Till the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones Shomer by Glen Hirshberg Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale Just Another Desert Night With Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee At Night When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley The Revel by John Langan


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What frightens us? What unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw, tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the nineteen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single aut What frightens us? What unnerves us? What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the lengths of our spines? It seems the answer changes every year. Every year the bar is raised; the screw, tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the nineteen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. Table of Contents: Summation 2010 by Ellen Datlow At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver City of the Dog by John Langan Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge When the Zombies Win by Karina Sumner-Smith --30-- by Laird Barron Fallen Boys by Mark Morris Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert The Fear by Richard Harland Till the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones Shomer by Glen Hirshberg Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale Just Another Desert Night With Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee At Night When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley The Revel by John Langan

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I almost didn't pick this up, because I had already read about a third of the stories elsewhere. The good news is that all of those stories are well worth reading again. As an entry in an ongoing series, I feel (so far) that this is Datlow's strongest effort yet. The overall quality is terrific, so much so that Datlow had the luxury (I feel) of story placement, kinds of stories, etc. In other words, Volume 3 is a superior collection of horror, every bit as good if not better as Jones' annual effort, I almost didn't pick this up, because I had already read about a third of the stories elsewhere. The good news is that all of those stories are well worth reading again. As an entry in an ongoing series, I feel (so far) that this is Datlow's strongest effort yet. The overall quality is terrific, so much so that Datlow had the luxury (I feel) of story placement, kinds of stories, etc. In other words, Volume 3 is a superior collection of horror, every bit as good if not better as Jones' annual effort, but with way better cover art. A few comments on the individual stories below: The Riding School, by Cody Goodfellow. Good kick-off story for the collection, involving an exclusive school for girls, and their interesting mounts. Mr. Pigsny, by Reggie Oliver. Part of this story struck me as being a bit too proper & British in tone. But hold on until the end, and you will see the heart of darkness. Excellent. City of the Dog, by John Langan. I'm up and down on Langan (I'm still trying to figure out what the hell was going on in his story, "The Shallows," from "Cthulu Reigns" collection), but concede that he's among the most literary of current horror writers. And that's not a negative comment. This one works, and works well. A college student with girlfriend problems. I was impressed with Langan's insights into jealousy, and how he integrated it into his overall Horror. Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls, by Brian Hodge. A Bad Seed story. Hodge explores the terrifying world of a child's overactive imagination. Well done. Lesser Demons, by Norman Partridge. Endtimes, the Undead, and shotguns. As American as apple pie. I really liked this, but I'm shallow that way. When the Zombies Win, by Karina Sumner-Smith. To be honest, I'm getting a bit tired of zombies. That said, this worked well enough. It's short, and I believe is meant as a "pause" story for the collection as a whole. --3--, by Laird Barron. I'm on record as far declaring this guy as being the best in the business. And there's nothing here to suggest otherwise. A filmed experiment, and a failed relationship, gone bad. Datlow's ongoing role in championing Barron is significant and important (if you care about the genre). Fallen Boys, by Mark Morris. A somewhat traditional ghost story that takes place in a mine. Well written, but also "Meh." Was She Wicked? Was She Good?, by M. Rickert. Sort of a Bad Seed story, but the parents are even more annoying. More of a dark fanstasy than horror, but well done. The Fear, by Richard Harland. Harland can write, but I would of liked to have seen this extended into something longer. A famed horror movie director, his "lost" film, his actors, and his fans. Till the Morning Comes, by Stephen Graham Jones. Jones takes familiar stuff (children, dark places, nightmares) and makes it new. This is really well done. Kind of reminded me of early King (you know, the good stuff). Shomer, by Glenn Hirschberg. It's not scary. Oh I Do Like to Beside the Seaside, by Christopher Fowler. I read an earlier seaside story by Fowler, and it was outstanding. More of the same here. Gritty portrayal of seaside denizens at an arcade. One of the best stories in the collection. The Obscure Bird, by Nicholas Royle. He's kind of like Langan for me. I see the talent, but his stories don't always click for me. This one does. Also one of the best in the collection. A couple who need to talk -- and owl pellets. I'll say no more. Transfiguration, by Richard Christian Matheson. Ice Road Truckers meets Silence of the Lambs. One of the best stories in the collection. Maybe even the best. Nothing really new here (except for perhaps the setting), but it's the telling here that counts. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles, by Catherynne Valente. Zombies. I'm tired of zombies, so I didn't read it. It may be good, but that's where I'm at right now. The Folding Man, by Joe Lansdale. Nun like creatures let something loose on a bunch of mouthy teenagers in what must be an ultimate case of road rage. Nasty and fun. Another candidate for the best story in the collection. Outstanding in every way. Just Another Desert Night w/ Blood, by Joe Pulver. Not really a story, more like a prose poem filled w/ dark imagery. The author confesses at the end that he was sort of channeling Neko Case. Knowing that going in won't hurt the reading of the story. Black and White Sky, by Tanith Lee. End of the Worlder (or England at least) w/ birds. Sort of reminded me of 28 Days later with bird shit. Pretty good, but I did have some questions. Well written. At Night, When the Demons Come, by Ray Cluley. End of Worlder w/ demons. I think I liked this better than Lee's effort because it had guns and cussing. The Revel, by John Langan. Very unusual for an author to have two stories in an anthology (whatever the genre). But here I'm glad of Datlow's decision. Very creative werewolf story, that takes big chances. Not everyone will like this, but those that do will probably agree with me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darren Hayes

    I am going to be completely honest, I have never really enjoyed collections of stories when they are gathered by various authors. I have always found that they have been to many of them that come out at the same time and just figured there was no point in getting involved with something that I found tedious. Now let me tell you that my mind set has been completely changed. Editor Ellen Datlow’s selection of short horror fiction in this book actually kept me entertained. I actually found my self I am going to be completely honest, I have never really enjoyed collections of stories when they are gathered by various authors. I have always found that they have been to many of them that come out at the same time and just figured there was no point in getting involved with something that I found tedious. Now let me tell you that my mind set has been completely changed. Editor Ellen Datlow’s selection of short horror fiction in this book actually kept me entertained. I actually found my self not wanting to put down the book, wanting to continue my journey through the world of these stories. With the exception of two stories that I just couldn’t get into all the others kept me locked into place until I completed them. Amazingly enough two of my favorite stories out of the entire collection were both written by the same author, I am not sure how I missed that when I first read them, however when I came back across them I was pleasantly surprised. John Lagan’s “The Revel” (which I considered the best of the collection) and “City of the Dog” are instantly going to go down as favorite stories of mine. “City of the Dog” dealing with a canine that is not your typical of sorts and “The Revel” a werewolf story that is so brilliantly written that I started rereading it over again just to enjoy the way the author writes. Another story that really stuck out to me was Richard Harland’s The Fear, it was one of those ones that I had no idea what was going to happen within the story as the group of friends try to find the other film reel of a horror flick that they find to be absolutely genius. Joe R Lansdale’s “The Folding Man” actually managed to creep me out, it didn’t help that while I was reading this I kept hearing odd noises out side of my window and down my hall way. It made even more eerie considering the I could imagine just what the mans noises sounded like after he was going after those children on that horrible Halloween night. I got to be honest when I first looked at the Summation I wanted to skip over it. I know how horrible of me. Well thankfully I didn’t. It gave me a list and reference to other works that I could check out at another time. I’m going to have to go back and read the two that one I found irritating to read simply from the way it was written. That would be “30” by Laird Barron the other was “Shomer” by Glen Hirshberg. Perhaps a second viewing of the two will expand my love for this collection. I would recommend this to other readers now as for my self looks like I need to go hunt down the other volumes and start paying more attention to Collections.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    So, onwards with the plan to retroactively catch up on this series while not letting the new releases outpace me (most recent volume to be read very soon) - helped by the fact that 6 of these stories already appeared in Best New Horror 22 and were read and reviewed by me there (and so the reviews are re-purposed here). And, as usual, keeping an eye out for potential Pseudopod episodes... and, as usual, being a year-encompassing "best of", these tend to be somewhat long reviews as I try to give eve So, onwards with the plan to retroactively catch up on this series while not letting the new releases outpace me (most recent volume to be read very soon) - helped by the fact that 6 of these stories already appeared in Best New Horror 22 and were read and reviewed by me there (and so the reviews are re-purposed here). And, as usual, keeping an eye out for potential Pseudopod episodes... and, as usual, being a year-encompassing "best of", these tend to be somewhat long reviews as I try to give everything its due. The only thing I need mention about the Summation 2010 opener is the obligatory statement that covers this and Jones' work in the MAMMOTH books - I'm happy someone does this, I find it disheartening how much *stuff* just gets pumped out there... Oh, and I find I like Datlow's way of presenting novels better than Jones', but they both have their uses. This is a fairly solid installment of the series. As I've noted before, Datlow differs from Jones' in favoring some more experimental pieces (but that only works for me sometimes) whereas Jones can tend to favor traditional story forms (which only works for me sometimes). But this edition, while having only one knock-it-out-of-the-park tale (which it shared with Jones' book), had enough solid "Good" stories and "Good but a little flawed" stories that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone. No one could like *everything* here, but this installment features more hits than misses. Now, in usual form, lets start with those misses. There are no out and out failures here, which makes sense for any self-respecting "Best Of" anthology. "The Days Of Flaming Motorcycles" by Catherynne M. Valente is a heartfelt and well-written tale of the "Zombie Apocalypse," seen through a different set of eyes and another frame. But using horror figures to tell a different story, not scary, and not trying to be scary and, thus, dark fantasy to me. Perfectly fine and interesting but not what I want out of a "horror" anthology." Ray Cluely's "At Night, When The Demons Come" takes the usual, familiar "Zombie Apocalypse" sets (abandoned roads and buildings to scout, rag-tag group of survivors as our characters, the threat of sudden death and hardscrabble survival to drive the plot) and swaps out the hungry dead for vicious, flying, bat-winged female "demons" - so kind of "Evil-Dead Apocalypse". The ubiquitous (or is it?) female-ness of the monsters leads to preemptive violence against women on the part of surviving males, so there's that loaded in as well but having recently read and run (on the podcast) James Tiptree, Jr.'s "Screwfly Solution", this story seems a bit easy in its gender commentary. Not bad. "Was She Wicked? Was She Good?" by M. Rickert is a bit of neither fish nor fowl for me - the set-up (parents' daughter is torturing and killing fairies, and they have different ideas about child-rearing) was suitably creepy but the story strayed too far into dark fantasy for me. Eh. Finally there's "The Obscure Bird" by Nicholas Royle, which is almost flash length and ominous (a husband fixates on the local owl population) but also struck me as "not enough there." Next we've got the "Good but a little flawed" stories. I really like Reggie Oliver's work (and have featured him on the podcast), and I liked the set-up of "Mr. Pigsny" (a University professor, brother-in-law to a recently-deceased mobster, finds himself forced to interact with a strange man, the titular character, who was providing some odd kind of spiritual guidance to to the mobster before his death). Oliver knows how to write a good story so what this come down to is the engaging set-up, some strong imagery (a Doré-like sketch of the mobster in hell) and characters, but it never seemed to "gel" for me as an actual story (we're reduced to some vague exposition from Mr. Pigsney at the climax that implies more than it explains - (view spoiler)[what is Pigsny even after, soliciting more "customers" in the most clumsy way possible? (hide spoiler)] ). Some evocative ideas but it felt unfocused. "Till The Morning Comes" by Stephen Graham Jones is the tale of a bed-wetting little boy, his angry dad, an erstwhile uncle and his Grateful Dead posters. Jones is good at capturing the fears and POV of a small, fearful boy but, much like the Oliver piece, it seemed a bit muddled in intent and execution. Richard Christian Matheson's "Transfiguration" has a great setting (the extreme northern end of Alaska) and character (long-haul ice-trucker who is mentally unbalanced and thinks he's an angel), a creepily effective horror detail (a body-disposal method that makes perfect sense) AND an apocalyptic ending - and yet it still also felt a little easy and possibly never becomes more than a sum of its parts (why do I feel like the body-disposal *detail* came first in the story's conception?). Still, not bad. "Just Another Desert Night With Blood" by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. is probably the most challenging piece here and Datlow is to be lauded for running it (and, in general, for considering such experimental and avant-garde work). Essentially, it's a simple tale of a nomadic killer slaughtering whoever he comes across in America's wastelands, but specifically told in a beat-poetic/associational/stream of consciousness prose style or word-pictures strung together as the narrative. Not for everyone, obviously, but I found it interesting, occasionally effective and ultimately a little *too* abstract to be fully effective. But interesting, definitely. Glen Hirshberg's "Shomer" is extremely well-written and emotionally honest, as a young man has to "sit shomer" with his beloved dead uncle's body overnight as part of Jewish ritual. Hirshberg certainly also succeeds at wringing some real creeps out of the prosaic, isolated funeral home basement setting. And there are some nice humanistic touches (the Chinese attendants). But I also felt that, in the end, it was a lit story just kind of masquerading as a "horror" story - one could almost bring up that old saw "not all ghost stories are HORROR stories". "When The Zombies Win" by Karina Sumner-Smith offers a short sketch of a setting exactly as it says on the label, a world suffused with the success of death. Sumner-Smith is to be lauded for being sharp and realizing that the idea only had about 2 pages in it, and writing accordingly. That leaves us with John Langan's meta-horror werewolf story, "The Revel", which the Reviewer had on his "to be read" list, so expectations were high. Perhaps too high, thinks the Reviewer, but who can say for sure? The Reviewer finds himself examining, at an equal distance, this removed-at-arm's length story which tells you (what the Reviewer would sum up as, perhaps unfairly, but who can say?) a somewhat trite set-up of a standard "werewolf" novel - isolated town, stolid sheriff, mysterious deaths, old history, secondary character with knowledge - but The Author hangs lanterns on the sketch, letting you know that *he* knows that **you** know - so he's not really wasting your time with such a hackneyed premise because he's aware it's hackneyed and tells you as much. The Reviewer pauses from the increasingly unlikely risk of being engaged by anything at all in the "text" and thinks about how problematic meta-horror can be, how its practitioners often forget (or knowingly abandon and admit as much, thus making it okay, or possibly... not?) their obligation to tell a scary/frightening/intriguing tale. About how self-congratulatory (to both the author, and also the reader - thus okay, or maybe not, or maybe so?) such exercises often seem - how bereft of real commitment, how lazy, or over-thought, or smug. The Reviewer thinks (not un-ironically), how irony can be cast around a familiar shell, indicating not substance but a hollowness - but really, why should you - the Reader of this Reviewer - care anyway? Don't you have a tv show to watch, something better to do than watch the Reviewer engage in an unsurprising exercise in gamesmanship, moving pieces around like the Author does, on a page of text? The Reviewer can't help but wonder if the powerful, strong ending was intended as a justification for the enterprise, for the cutting of corners because the Author felt the Readers needed the cliches to get to that ending, but shouldn't have to suffer through them at novel or even novella length, and so spared us all the trouble (for which the Reviewer thanks them...maybe?)... but still needed them to get there, which places some (old-fashioned? 20th Century?) expectations on the Author's claim of validity. The Reviewer wonders if that makes the ending hollow, another in a long parade of "neat idea" pieces/fragments-purporting-to-be-stories he has read in his time as an editor, wherein Authors of all stripes have presented similar "works", intriguing ideas or endings or twists or distanced, removed strategies, but with little actual "story" supporting them, the work not there like a half-built skeleton of a house with a really nice dining room at the center. Or is that image too much? The Reviewer isn't sure so the Reviewer shrugs and moves on... Next we have the "Good" stories: "Fallen Boys" by Mark Morris has good character dynamics (teacher-bully-victim) and legend-haunted setting (class trip to the haunted tin mine in Cornwall!) although a minor detail caught my editor's eye (it's pitch black, but then they have helmet lights!) and the ending was just... okay. Young punks try to escape moribundity in Christopher Fowler's gritty, grotty homage to the rotting and derelict seaside amusement towns of Britain - "Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside". There's a nice rising sense of desperation and engulfment (even though the actual supernatural aspect comes completely out of left field). Norman Partridge approaches Lovecraft from his own hard-boiled stylistic direction in "Lesser Demons" - what you get is some cracking good action-horror as a tough sheriff survives the post-apocalyptic world (created by the rise of the Old Ones) as best he can. A bit long (for what story you actually get, overall), but the character voice was compelling and enjoyable. "City of the Dog" by John Langan is a longish tale, almost a novella - a mashup of "Pickman's Model's" and early-90's college town angst and romance (cheating girlfriends, alternative music, the bar scene - you know the drill!). It's an enjoyable read, though, evoking Lovecraft's ghouls and tying them to Albany, New York (I love stories that attempt to capture the feel of actual, less-popular, cities). Cody Goodfellow, in his story "The Riding Academy" gives us an almost quasi-noir set-up as a flawed protagonist veterinarian, engaged by a wealthy recluse who runs the titular school from her vast ocean-side estate, find herself having to confront a not-unknown horror in the stables that encompasses Greek mythology and gender/power dynamics. Tanith Lee is a reliable writer so you can feel assured that her "Black And White Sky" will be engaging and thoughtfully crafted, as it offers a variant of Daphne du Maurier's classic "The Birds" (and even admits as much in story, including a short discussion of the minor differences). An apocalyptic flood of rising magpies isolates the British Isles and clogs the sky (in imagery I found resonant of David Tibet's work with apocalyptic folk music group Current 93). I liked the well-drawn characters and country life of the village setting, but feel the deeper religious (possibly?) significance of the event was lost on me (unless it's simply a religion vs rationality allegory). "The Folding Man" by the also consistent and reliable Joe R. Lansdale is a good old-fashioned, straight-ahead monster story with pranking teens on Halloween night running afoul of evil nuns and something that could best be described as a steampunk version of "The Terminator" - I enjoyed it as an exercise in simple suspense writing (which is more difficult to do than most suppose). Two of the solidly "good" stories I felt were contenders for the Pseudopod podcast. "The Fear" by Richard Harland involves a film club and their discovery of the first, unfinished film by a cult movie director who went on to some fame. The description of the film sounds like some lost work of Andy Milligan, but the club members begin to see details in the work that incite them to hunt down the director, and later the missing star, only to expose more horror than they expected. I liked this - the descriptions of the film and the director were good and while the actual "horror" element may be small-scale, it is very creepily conveyed. Laird Barron's "--30--" (which oddly never justifies just why it's named with semi-obscure journalistic nomenclature) involves two scientists (manly hunter/biologist and female entomologist) doing obscure field research (they know not why, exactly) in a vast stretch of scrub and desert which used to house a Manson-esque cult and still seems to harbor some form of evil "genius loci". Expertly done, this is a great example of writing believable characters and playing off clashes in interpersonal dynamics as friction builds and evil creeps in through the elided details to meticulously destroy the situation. And you have to love a surprise shout out to Roald Dahl's short fiction work for adults! The best story in the collection? The real stand-out? "Just Inside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls" by Brian Hodge, in which a shut-in boy with a singular "wild talent" makes friends with the girl across the way. It's a wonderfully creepy, fable-like tale with a truly unnerving ending and I was also lucky enough to be able to purchase it for Pseudopod, the episode featuring the reading is available as a download (for free) here. And that's that done!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Ward

    In picking up an older anthology, one runs the risk of already having encountered some of the stories. Unfortunately, I was familiar with about a third of these (among which are great tales by Laird Barron, Glen Hirschberg, Norman Partridge, and Joe Lansdale), but I picked it up for $1.99 on Kindle, so what the hey. The good news is, most of the new (to me) stories blew me away. The collection opens with Cody Goodfellow's brilliant and utterly perverse "At the Riding School," of which the less s In picking up an older anthology, one runs the risk of already having encountered some of the stories. Unfortunately, I was familiar with about a third of these (among which are great tales by Laird Barron, Glen Hirschberg, Norman Partridge, and Joe Lansdale), but I picked it up for $1.99 on Kindle, so what the hey. The good news is, most of the new (to me) stories blew me away. The collection opens with Cody Goodfellow's brilliant and utterly perverse "At the Riding School," of which the less said the better; it hits a good midpoint stride with Richard Harland's "The Fear," an ode to cult horror films and maniacal directors; then introduces an unprecedented apocalyptic event in Tanith Lee's "Black and White Sky"; and closes with John Langan's tour-de-force werewolf tale, "The Revel." (Langan is so awesome he's represented twice: his new-Lovecraftian "City of the Dog," already familiar to me, was nevertheless a chilling reread.) There are also stories about what happens to children who pull the wings off things, a boy who can draw events into existence, and even a couple zombie apocalypse tales that felt surprisingly fresh. Over all, I find you can't really lose with any of Datlow's collections. She's a maestro.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    I feel that the writing for most of these stories was very high quality, but I admit there were a few I didn't like at all, because of the content. However, this makes for a good horror collection. You will get your money's worth, most likely. Favorite stories by Cody Goodfellow, Joe R. Lansdale, Catherynne M. Valente, and Norman Partridge. Reviewed for Bitten by Books.com. http://bittenbybooks.com.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow Awakened by a late night phone call a veterinarian is called in to a local private boarding/riding school to deal with an emergency. She has dealt with emergencies there before, off the books, as it seems that the headmistress has some sort of dirt on her. Goodfellow does a wondrous job at casting an air of anticipatory dread. Goodfellow has our lead lay out the fairly mundane details behind the history of the riding school and its headmistress in a fairly straightforwa At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow Awakened by a late night phone call a veterinarian is called in to a local private boarding/riding school to deal with an emergency. She has dealt with emergencies there before, off the books, as it seems that the headmistress has some sort of dirt on her. Goodfellow does a wondrous job at casting an air of anticipatory dread. Goodfellow has our lead lay out the fairly mundane details behind the history of the riding school and its headmistress in a fairly straightforward manner. As stranger and more troubling elements are slowly introduced into the story that sense of foreboding coils like a spring in your gut. That is one of the best and most enjoyable aspects of horror, though it seems weird to say so, the expectation of dread and the foreknowledge that something terrible lies just around the corner is what pulls you forward while simultaneously urging you to stop reading. The tension between those two elements (I'm sure it has a German name or something) is one of those things that I look forward to most in horror and the element whose absence I always find the most distressing. Thankfully, Goodfellow's story is one of the best examples I've seen in handling that dawning sense of horror. However, I also found that the inevitable payoff did not quite match the exquisite nature of the journey. That isn't so much a comment on Goodfellow's talent as it is the nature of horror itself. Revelation and truth have always been, in my eyes, the enemy of horror fiction everywhere. Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver This was a rather interesting story one part Goodfellas and one part Faust. A Cambridge professor takes his two nephews to the funeral of their gangster uncle. There he meets the mysterious Mr. Pigsny (who in my imagination looked an awful lot like Pip the Troll) who reveals a strange photograph of the deceased capering in a bizarre landscape. From there our erstwhile professor has several run ins with the titular Mr. Pigsny and some increasingly supernatural events occur. Truth be told this story didn’t really do much for me. Structurally it’s sound and the premise is interesting but the disparate elements never really came together into a cohesive whole. The entire story lacks any kind of threat, whether physical or mental, lending the story a (perhaps appropriate) academic feel. The language itself definitely feels like something a Cambridge professor would use. While Mr. Pigsny is certainly a sinister figure he doesn’t really seem to do much. I couldn’t help put imagine the Professor shrugging at the end of the story and moving on with his life as if nothing happened. As far as I can see there was no meaningful impact on the main character’s life. Mr. Pigsny is a far cry from the quality of the previous story. City of the Dog by John Langan City of the Dog represents a marked improvement over the previous story though I still thought it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in horror. City of the Dog opens with a young couple on their way to a night out on the town when a chance encounter with what appears to be an injured stray dog shatters their lives. Langan does an adequate job in imbuing his characters with a sense of history. Their problems feel real and constantly on the verge of bubbling over into something ugly. It might be argued that the horrific events that unfold over the course of the story are manifestation and commentary on the anger and resentment that is left simmering beneath surface. The tension between the characters is the most real aspect of the story and I felt that this aspect, welcome though it may be, left little room for the other elements of the story to really shine. I never had a real sense of place for the story and the atmosphere while fraught with tension lacked the cloying sense of anxiety and darkness that I really look for in horror. City of the Dog is an entertaining story that injects the threat of the supernatural into the already dangerous waters of a troubled relationship. Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Doors by Brian Hodge Horror fiction has often had a fascinating relationship with children. Maybe it’s just me but I always feel that a lot of horror features children in a central role. Novels like Stephen King’s It, Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, Dougless Clegg’s Neverland, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Richard Laymon’s Traveling Vampire Show all use children as our heroes. It is always a fascinating to see the juxtaposition of childhood innocence with unflinching horror. Hodges story is subtle in its exploration of that juxtaposition. He uses several careful layers in the story’s opening to obscure where the horrific elements are coming from. Similar in vein to Let the Right One In, Hodge’s story is at its heart a story about the friendship between two outcasts. One of which is a product of human monsters and the other just part monster. It is sad and chilling at the same time. Hodge’s opening lines for the story set the tone wonderfully setting us on the path to horror when our narrator states “…once the bloom is off the earliest years of childhood, we stand revealed as something our parents are mortified to have created.” Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge Norman Partirdge’s Lesser Demons is sort of an action/horror hybrid wherein a small-town sheriff fights a lonely battle against demon hordes at the end of the world. It is an undeniably cool setup even if it isn’t the most original of ideas. Whether it was Matheson’s I Am Legend or the opening of The Walking Dead the notion of one man versus the monstrous hordes is something that has been seen before. The story focuses not on fixing the problem but rather on surviving the situation as it stands. Our hero is willing to sacrifice much of himself and his humanity to keep on living. Partridge does an excellent job of setting an atmosphere of lonely isolation. The scene where the Sheriff, sitting alone at the end of the dock eating a can of beans as the sun sets because he isn’t ready to face the blood of his deputy still on the walls of the cabin is incredibly evocative and rife with a mingled sadness that belies the Sheriff previously evidenced grim determination. Truth be told I think that Lesser Demons is the first story in this collection suffer because of its length. It is an encapsulation of a lengthy event that never really manages to completely sell its premise. Events happen quickly and while the deputy and his slow slide into madness plays an important role of the plot there isn’t enough to time to establish a relationship between the Sheriff and his co-worker. Without that emotional bond between the two character readily apparent the whole story comes off with a rather disturbing detached feeling. I suppose that could be what Partridge is going for but it doesn’t quite work for me as a reader. I really love the twisted menagerie of monsters that pepper the story and would love to see more of the apocalypse that unfolded in the story. A solid entry that comes a bit close to being a disappointment but the inventiveness of the story and solidly constructed setting manage to keep this one above the mark. When the Zombies Win by Karina Summer-Smith I’m only going to spare this story the barest of space. It isn’t scary in the least. It is certainly fun and amusing but there is a tongue-in-cheek cuteness that makes me question its placement in this anthology. A weird choice that is thankfully short. It reminded me of the story about Santa Claus from Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors. –30– by Laird Barron I’ve had experience with Laird Barron’s work and am particularly fond of his Old Virginia from The Imago Sequence and Other Stories. –30– is a lengthy story that combines a lot of interesting elements that work well together just about as often as they don’t work together at all. The story takes place at an isolated research post in the middle of a former farm community now reclaimed by the wilderness. What they are researching involves the area’s coyotes but hints of the area’s dark past and the ominous information gleaned about the group funding the outpost call the true designs of the station into question. There is a bit of a Lord of the Flies element here as well and the isolation and monotony of the two researchers begins to eat away at their sanity. Or does it? –30– manages to walk that fine line between outright supernatural presence and more mundane explanations. Barron combines strong elements of psychological and emotional tension with classic horror tropes (something knocking on the door in the night, brief glimpse of something on a recorded video, etc) to heighten the tension. The story sort of disintegrates at the end, I expect deliberately, and while there are certainly lingering questions when all is said and done the story is still satisfying. Fallen Boys by Mark Morris I won’t lie I have a think about mines and basically anything underground. Day to day I am not a claustrophobic person. Not at all. But something about all that stone above, the complete and utter dark just absolutely terrifies me on a deep level. Fallen Boys (note the child centric story again) taps into that fear a little bit by using a field trip to an old mine to tell a ghost story. It isn’t a perfect story and I wish it had taken advantage of its setting a little better. As it stands the supernatural/horrific elements of the story are bit too strongly telegraphed for my taste. You see them coming from miles away thus robbing the story of some of its potential power. Again, this isn’t a bad story but one that doesn’t quite utilize its elements to completely tap into the fear centers of my psyche. Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert Here we have another child-centric story and a pretty wicked one at that. Faeries don’t always (I might be willing to say never) have a place in horror fiction but Rickert manages a unique twist on the fae that is chilling. Rickert establishes a strong implied backstory the helps lend a certain emotional weight to the story. The parents of the child in the story have obviously been through the same song and dance more than once and by starting in the middle Rickert is better able to craft an engaging conflict between husband and wife as well as parent and child. As I mentioned there seems to be some sort of implied childhood trauma that prompts the child to act out the way she does (the she of the title) and the story is in a way a rather twisted take on loss of childhood. It is an exaggerated metaphor for growing up that seems to highlight the terrible fact of how we lose our innocence while simultaneously taking a dark look about how the innocence can be just as horrific. An excellent entry and one of the best in this volume. The Fear by Richard Harland Harland’s The Fear is another of my favorites from this collection. It borrows elements of traditional horror fiction and utilizes the current “found footage” motif to craft a taught story. An Australian fan club of Australian horror director Lucas Roe uncovers footage of an unfinished early film and decides to find out more about as a summer project. What they find out isn’t quite what they expect and is slightly more than they bargained for. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of The Fear is how easily Harland manages to convey a sense of the fictional film that is so central to the story. Partly this is a result of found footage films that have cropped up over the last few years and part of it is how perfectly he captures the rapt attention and voracious zeal with which his characters take to the film. That immediate attraction to a film, that sense of wonder and terror and elation that a good horror movie evokes is difficult to evoke at the best of times and Harland’s ability to so readily capture the emotional high of that experience helps sell the story. The Fear is a story about the journey, it never explains anything in detail and is not cheapened by that fact. A story that is the very definition of chilling The Fear has a well-deserved place in this anthology. Til the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones Jones’ story is yet another that features children front and center. Something about this story didn’t quite feel right for me. It is ambiguous in a sense, but that isn’t something that usually bothers me with horror. Perhaps I’m just not sure where the threat is coming from in the story. I will say that the way that threat is introduced accurately captures the contagious nature of fear in children. How one small thing can so radically and completely change the way the world looks particularly when you are young and conveys how that shift in perception can persist even into adulthood. An interesting and well told story that worked for me on some levels. Shomer by Glen Hirshberg The title of the story refers to the Jewish bereavement custom in which a deceased body not immediately buried must be watched over by a relative. Hirshberg’s story is a mediation on grief and life and love. The horror has less to do with the supernatural elements that occur but rather deal more with the emotions and relationships between the living and the deceased. This was an interesting story with only light touches of horror. Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler Another story with children at the forefront (perhaps the most frightening monsters of all: teenagers) Fowler’s crafts a very strong setting. He deftly sketches a dilapidated and failing seaside resort town within a scant few pages. It is a place that seems to have a sort of strange magnetism; drawing people to itself and unwilling to let them go. Much like in Til the Morning Comes there is a sort of regrettable ambiguity here that left me feeling somewhat confused by the stories conclusion. This is an entertaining story buoyed by its strong sense of place and some creepy characters but with a twist ending that comes bizarrely out of nowhere. The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle This is one of the more fascinating and original stories. Indeed I had no idea how it was going to end at all. I don’t want to spoil things too much and Royle does an excellent job at providing slight misdirection in order to keep readers guess as to what comes next. Once the climax hit (we’re talking paragraphs from where the story ends) I was pretty sure I knew where things were going but that foreknowledge did little to lessen the sick twist at the story’s end. Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson I’m a big fan of arctic settings in horror fiction so I was all in the minute I started reading Transfiguration. The protagonist is a Ice Trucker and I was pleasantly surprised to realize this might be the only time I’ve seen that profession employed in fiction. Matheson does an excellent job a blending reality and delusion. He carefully obscures the truth given the isolation and tension the protagonist faces. The protagonist’s belief is so strong that it is difficult not to believe as well and even as the truth behind his actions is revealed you are still left wondering, at least a tiny part of me was, what was true and was delusion. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente While there has been a seeming overabundance of zombie stories of late Catherynne M. Valente manages to provide a rather unique take on the walking dead. Much like Stephen King’s work in Cell or George Romero’s in Land of the Dead Valente’s story involves undead whose behavior falls outside the expectations of the reader defying the conventional zombie mythology we have all come to know. The horror here isn’t so much what has already happened but rather the mystery of what is to come. Valente’s variation on zombies feels less forced than either Romero or King. The organic feel of these new zombies is primarily a result of Valente’s ability to create a strong connection between our narrator, her environment, and what remains of her father. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles evidences a palpable sense of sadness and an overarching sense of unease that makes up for any outright terror. The Folding Man by Joe R. Landsdale The Folding Man is pure horror pulp at its best. A couple of kids joy riding around Halloween engage in some tomfoolery only be pursued by a horrific monster. Landsdale easily riffs on a familiar trope borrowed from countless horror films of the 70s and 80s. Its twisted monsters and anything goes flare recalled films like Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm. Like that film its off-the-wall crazy is firmly contained within a vaguely outlined setting hinting at a preconceived mythology just beneath the surface. Landsdale easily crafts a strong sense of place and history amongst his characters. While not necessarily new there is a certain comfort in the familiarity of The Folding Man and fans of horror and short fiction can find little to dislike in its near perfect structure and pacing. Just Another Desert Night with Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. I should probably read this story again. Its crafted somewhere between poetry and prose and I’m not ashamed to admit that it may have gone straight over my head. It certainly is unique amongst the stories in this collection. A Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee A Black and White Sky is an expertly crafted though ultimately disappointing story that will draw many comparisons to Hitchock’s The Birds. While an unceasing exodus of birds is an unsettling notion I still found it rather difficult really get into as a primary focus for the story. Lee crafts a well drawn slice of British country town but the firm setting locale doesn’t quite pay off in terms of atmosphere and chills. At Night, When the Demons Come by Ray Clulely Another post-apocalyptic story about a world overrun by demons that plays nicely alongside the earlier Lesser Demons. Cluley’s story has the benefit of allowing for a deeper reading that can be looked at as dealing with the repression of femininity or female sexuality. It can also be read as a simply an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic story. At Night, When the Demons Come really did little for me in terms of atmosphere focusing more on crafting a surprising human tale of horror instead of crafting a sense of outright dread a fear. An interesting story but not up to some of the best in this collection. The Revel by John Langan Another story with a somewhat experimental structure. To be honest I wasn’t really a fan. It feels more like an exercise in horror writing than actual horror story. It does manage to encapsulate the elements of horror fiction and film fairly accurately. Burried beneath the obtuse structure of the story is a familiar story with characters that manage to feel interesting even if the way their perspectives are introduced is a bit odd. I do wonder if the story, if told straight, would have been more interesting. This meta-fictional story feels very out of place in this collection.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    The first thing I notice is that Night Shade Books has recycled some of its back cover copy word for word from last year's volume -- right down to the story count. Seventeen scaaaarry stories, the cover promises, but that contrary Table of Contents lists 21. And I thought we cleared up this "legendary editor Ellen Datlow" business last year. "Legendary" is an adjective best reserved for chupacabras. A legendary editor would've paid more attention to the galleys. But I'm griping about cosmetic, s The first thing I notice is that Night Shade Books has recycled some of its back cover copy word for word from last year's volume -- right down to the story count. Seventeen scaaaarry stories, the cover promises, but that contrary Table of Contents lists 21. And I thought we cleared up this "legendary editor Ellen Datlow" business last year. "Legendary" is an adjective best reserved for chupacabras. A legendary editor would've paid more attention to the galleys. But I'm griping about cosmetic, surface-level stuff. The stories are what's important. The first few are competent but not particularly remarkable. Priapic stagmen, Mephistophelean midgets, werewolves: Standard horror presented in standard ways. Then we get to "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls." Here is something special. Brian Hodge writes of a boy locked away by adults who fear his power to reshape reality. A new neighbor moves in next door, bringing the potential for friendship and a renewed link to the outside world. Hodge wrote "Prototype," one of the bleakest horror novels ever published, so it's no surprise that he expertly maps out the darker places his story goes, but he also embraces its more sentimental aspects with a deft and subtle touch that's never cloying or weepy. It's a beautifully done story. Brian Hodge and Norman Partridge should have permanent slots reserved in every "best horror" annual. Any editor who can't find something extraordinary by these authors in the course of a year isn't trying very hard. And hey, there's Norman Partridge following Hodge's story with "Lesser Demons" (or "Lessser," according to the typo on the title page). "Down in the cemetery, the children were laughing. They had another box open." Now that's the way to start a story. Consider the hook buried. Partridge is an author grounded in the pulp tradition, and he does his forebears proud in this bullet-riddled, gory, non-stop monster mash. There are enough creepy crawlies in this firmly packed story to fill a full-sized novel, and brother, I'd love to read an expanded version. At this length, the reader barely gets a moment to catch his breath. Laird Barron, a repeat offender in Datlow's annuals, has a hard-boiled voice that's sometimes reminiscent of Partridge. Although he's a relatively new writer, he's already that good. In "--30--" two researchers work at a remote outpost in an unforgiving wilderness when nature stops acting natural. The horror story is a form versatile enough to accomplish many things, but at its core, the basic root purpose is to scare the reader. And Barron writes some scary stories. Some of the dialog is a tad stiff, but "--30--" brings the creepy in both claws. If bugs are your phobia, this story will crawl straight into your nightmare closet. Barron can even make a sunset unsettling: "He limped across a plain that stretched beneath a wide, carnivorous sky." "--30--" starts slowly, softly with disembodied whispers, strange sounds, midnight knocks at the door, then gradually, steadily cranks up the paranoia to a climactic pitch of gibbering, mindless terror. Richard Harland's haunted movie story, "The Fear," is a bit too thematically similar to Gemma Files' "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" from the previous "Best Horror" volume. Except that it's clunky and obvious and, despite the title, not frightening at all. "I wish I'd never seen that accursed film." Yea, well, I've seen this story many many times. I suspect Datlow has, too, which might account for the editorial snoozing during a scene in which one character's apple juice transmutes to orange a page or two later. Glen Hirshberg's "Shomer" is set around a funeral, so this time perhaps his typical sad sack style of writing is appropriate. "Somewhere in the Rosenberg House, someone was wailing." No doubt. This is a Glen Hirshberg story. It's what his characters like to do best. The sobbing starts in the third paragraph and recurs at regular intervals like those fountains in Las Vegas. Everybody cries. The narrator cries. He dries his tears long enough to see something slightly strange for a couple of paragraphs. Then he resumes crying, tears of joy this time. The end. Hirshberg should flip back a hundred pages and read Hodge's story. He could learn something about adding emotional heft to a story without being mawkish. Christopher Fowler's "Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside" follows in the British tradition of the Angry Young Men of the 1950s and '60s. It's a nice bit of descriptive writing on a seaside resort's blight and decay, but it's not really a horror story until it's forced to be by a handful of paragraphs rather arbitrarily nailed to the end. In "The Folding Man," a trio (not a pair, as the book's back cover says) of teenage boys cruising for Halloween hijinx hassle the wrong sinister black car full of butt-ugly mutant nuns. Only in Texas. Only from Joe Lansdale. The fact that Lansdale has not been officially certified as a Texas monument shows just how intellectually bankrupt the lawmakers of my home state are, but this is not one of his better stories. It feels like a rush job, right down to the sloppy punctuation. It starts with the potential to be another Halloween perennial -- like Lansdale's "By Bizarre Hands" ("Woooo, goats") -- but ends as haphazard and ramshackle as its title monster. In "Just Another Desert Night With Blood," Joseph Pulver tries to disguise the banality of his psycho-on-the-loose tale with a lot of fragmentary, impressionistic writing, but he succeeds only in making a generic story annoying as well. "shadow foam corner to corner, what is real buried beneath ... The itch. (language wrought of loneliness and sunder in his fists.)" Yes, that kind of gibberish makes my fists want to sunder, too. Tanith Lee's "Black and White Sky" brings to mind a response to the supernatural from Toni Morrison's "Beloved": "It's not evil, just sad." "Black and White Sky" isn't particularly horrific, but it is very very sad. Lee's apocalypse comes not in the form of zombie hordes, a nuclear conflagration or a super plague, but in a mass defection of magpies, perhaps no longer willing to share a wounded planet with the likes of us (though the phenomena is limited to Britain, so maybe it's all THEIR fault. Personally, I'd be more inclined to blame the French.). Without resorting to Hirshberg-type histrionics, Lee crafts a moving and mournful elegy. The apocalypse must have spread beyond Albion because Ray Cluley is writing about it also in the next story, "At Night, When the Demons Come." Cluley's end of the world is much more cinematic, violent and action-oriented. It's got monsters, boobies, gunplay, gore and tornadoes, and it rivals Partridge's entry as the most propulsive, thrilling story in the anthology. So we can overlook Cluley's occasional British anachronisms. (No one has ever used the word "whilst" in the entire history of Oklahoma.) Datlow still hasn't found the right ratio of Best-to-Blah for her annuals, but this year's roundup is an encouraging improvement over Vols. 1 and 2. "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls" and "--30--" are absolute must-reads for the fright-inclined, and there's plenty more good, if not exceptional, work in the rest of the book. There's only one full-on dud, and Pulver writes short, so it's over quickly. Let's hope those Internet rumors are false and that Night Shade Books is still a viable, healthy small publisher, so Datlow can continue working to better the "Best Horror."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    If I have to give this book a number rating, I'd probably give it 2.5 stars. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed -- after the big improvement from Volume One to Volume Two, I had expected that the trend would continue with Volume Three. It didn't. On the back-cover blurb it says the following: "What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the length of our spines?...Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us..." If I have to give this book a number rating, I'd probably give it 2.5 stars. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed -- after the big improvement from Volume One to Volume Two, I had expected that the trend would continue with Volume Three. It didn't. On the back-cover blurb it says the following: "What causes that delicious shiver of fear to travel the length of our spines?...Every year the bar is raised; the screw is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us..." Well, the bar has not been raised, and evidently she doesn't know what scares me because once again I'm left wondering about that "delicious shiver of fear," which, with a few exceptions, just didn't materialize over the course of this book. Still, I keep hoping, meaning I've got Volume Four on my nightstand, ready to go, and I've already pre-ordered Volume Five, which according to Amazon, is expected to be out in June of this year. I think that what keeps me coming back to these collections is that when I find a story that actually sends that cold chill down my spine, I want to find more work by the author who actually managed to pleasantly provide me with a few downright creepy moments. I have a longer discussion of this book here; if you're happy with the barebones outline, continue reading. In this edition there are again only a handful of stories that I actually like. The usual inclusion of the editor's summation of books, stories, etc. from 2010 is also much appreciated, but overall I just wasn't happy with this installment of the series. Four entries grabbed me; sadly, I'd already read two of them. That leaves a total of two. Laird Barron's "--30'--" is one I've read before in his excellent collection Occultation; another reread is Norman Partridge's "Lesser Demons." Of the two stories new to me, the best read was "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee, one of the most bizarre tales I've read in quite a while. Quiet life in the British Isles is shaken by upward-moving magpies, a strange phenomenon that leads to a terrifying and atmospherically-creepy conclusion. I read this one twice and both times it produced that lovely spine tingle I look for. "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls," by Brian Hodge is also a winner -- a boy meets a new neighbor next door, and a friendship begins, but it may only bring trouble since the boy has been locked up for the safety of others. There's definitely a good reason behind it all, which will come as a bit of a shock. I'd also like to point out Cody Goodfellow's story "At the Riding School," a bit on the violent side for my tastes but very well written; "The Fear," by Richard Harland was another one that had me going up until the end when it frustratingly petered out. I say, is it really too much to ask for stories that send that promised "delicious shiver of fear" down my spine? So far there have only been a few meeting this description -- a definite shame.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Another collection of The Best Mediocre Horror of the Year and probably the last one I am going to bother with. Most of the stories here are uninteresting and forgettable. The exceptions come (not surprisingly) from Brian Hodge, Nicholas Royle and Tanith Lee. In order: "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls": A girl with a terrible secret befriends a boy with a terrible power who lives next door. "The Obscure Bird": An amateur ornithologist becomes a little too in Another collection of The Best Mediocre Horror of the Year and probably the last one I am going to bother with. Most of the stories here are uninteresting and forgettable. The exceptions come (not surprisingly) from Brian Hodge, Nicholas Royle and Tanith Lee. In order: "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls": A girl with a terrible secret befriends a boy with a terrible power who lives next door. "The Obscure Bird": An amateur ornithologist becomes a little too involved with his work. "Black and White Sky": Britain is beset by impossible, apocalyptic masses of magpies. Two bird stories; where was Stephen Gregory this year? The short list of honorable mentions at the back made me a little sad. Why couldn't we have William Browning Spencer or Steve Rasnic Tem instead of, say, Joe Lansdale? And why is Lansdale required to appear in every horror anthology ever published? Does he have a piece of each editor's soul in a jar in his basement? I can't think of any other explanation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Guignard

    Finished reading "The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Three" last night, edited by Ellen Datlow and really enjoyed it. I read a great of deal of short horror stories from multiple periodicals and web sites, much of which is drek. It's wonderful to sit down and peruse this collection, in which every story is so well written, unique, and truly a "best of." Some of the stories I read before, but they helped set the mood for other authors I was not familiar with. The horror tales in this Finished reading "The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Three" last night, edited by Ellen Datlow and really enjoyed it. I read a great of deal of short horror stories from multiple periodicals and web sites, much of which is drek. It's wonderful to sit down and peruse this collection, in which every story is so well written, unique, and truly a "best of." Some of the stories I read before, but they helped set the mood for other authors I was not familiar with. The horror tales in this anthology are not slasher/ splatter, but quiet horror, filled with emotion and insight with plots which are skewed just enough to send the proverbial shivers up your spine. Datlow's summation of the year, listing award-winners and numerous recommendations for further reading is especially appreciated. It is a telling recap of the 2010 year of horror and dark fiction. Some of my personal favorites in this collection are “The Days of Flaming Motorcycles” by Catherynne M. Valente, “The Folding Man” by Joe R. Lansdale, and “Transfiguration” by Richard Christian Matheson. This book is filled with many other wonderful authors as well - Cody Goodfellow, Tanith Lee, Laird Barron, John Langan, and a dozen others. Highly recommended!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    Another great anthology of horror stories. I really am enjoying these books a lot.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Datlow has returned with her annual collection, and as usual, those who share similar tastes will be pleased. I personally don't feel this volume was as strong as the two previous, but there are several very strong tales here that literary horror fans shouldn't miss. There's quite a bit of overlap with Stephen Jones's Mammoth book this year, which is unfortunate. I'll do a brief rundown of each story herein: "At the Riding School" by Cody Goodfellow: I felt this was a weak beginning t Datlow has returned with her annual collection, and as usual, those who share similar tastes will be pleased. I personally don't feel this volume was as strong as the two previous, but there are several very strong tales here that literary horror fans shouldn't miss. There's quite a bit of overlap with Stephen Jones's Mammoth book this year, which is unfortunate. I'll do a brief rundown of each story herein: "At the Riding School" by Cody Goodfellow: I felt this was a weak beginning to the collection, with a rather predictable plot involving an exclusive school for girls. However, the characterization was strong. "Mr. Pigsny" by Reggie Oliver: Much more to my taste than the previous, "Mr. Pigsny" is a classical weird tale after the style of M.R. James or Robert Aickman, but with gangsters (!). This should come as no surprise to readers of Oliver's posthumous collaboration with James, "The Game of Bear." Recommended. "City of the Dog" by John Langan: Langan continues to impress me with this long work involving (depending on your interpretation) Lovecraftian ghouls or lycanthropes and a young man's jealousy and sorrow over a failing relationship. Langan has a strong prose style and a keen eye for detail and nuance. Highly recommended. "Just Outside Our Window, Deep Inside Our Walls" by Brian Hodge: This one has received quite a few accolades, but I must admit I don't entirely agree. Although I usually enjoy Hodge's work, this one struck me as a bit lightweight. Focusing on the friendship between an isolated boy and the girl next door, the two bond and soon find a novel solution to their separate- and shared- problems. Not a bad story by any means, but not quite up to Hodge's normally very high standard.. "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge: This is an action-packed post-apocalyptic tale with a grim protagonist and a bloody, no-holds-barred style that reminds me a bit of Joe R. Lansdale. Rarefied company, to be sure. "When the Zombies Win" by Karina Summer-Smith: Sumner-Smith tells us what happens after the zombie apocalypse. It's pretty much as tragic and altogether pointless as you'd expect. I'm not generally a fan of zombie tales, so others may appreciate this one a bit more. "--30--" by Laird Barron: The absolute high point of the collection. Barron's voice has only grown stronger as time passes, and this story is possibly his most accomplished work to date. A tale of a broken relationship, isolation, and possible supernatural occurrences in the high desert. This is a marvel, and every dark fiction reader owes it to themselves to witness it firsthand. "Fallen Boys" by Mark Morris: I've been a fan of Morris since reading The Immaculate in 1996 or thereabouts, and this tale does not disappoint. It follows a school field trip to an abandoned mine, and some of the lore of said mine. The prose has a very dreamlike and mysterious quality which should be familiar to those versed in Morris's work. "Was She Wicked? Was She Good?" by M. Rickert: An unusual and disturbing story about the stress of parenting, childhood cruelty (or possibly something deeper, and darker) and the Fair Folk. Fantastically evocative prose, with one of the best opening lines I've read in years. "The Fear" by Richard Harland: A group of film fans investigates a famed director-turned-hermit's lost work from the 60s. Goes off the rails a bit at the end, but the subject matter of lost, strange cinema is fascinating. "Till the Morning Comes" by Stephen Graham Jones: This rather nostalgic and sentimental tale manages to be both bleak and life-affirming. It sounds contradictory, but somehow, it works. "Shomer" by Glen Hirshberg: I've always found Hirshberg to be underwhelming, and this story is no exception. However, it did introduce me to the Jewish custom of Shomer, which I found to be very interesting, so it wasn't a total loss. "Oh, I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside" by Christopher Fowler: An opaque tale of juvenile delinquency in a small English seaside town, and the bizarre characters who dwell there. The conclusion (the entire story, to be quite honest) is rather baffling, but Fowler's prose is a joy to read. "The Obscure Bird" by Nicholas Royle: Royle delivers another cryptic tale of obsession and familial discord, this time focusing on owls. Yes, owls. The final passage is extraordinarily tense and frightening. "Transfiguration" by Richard Christian Matheson: This is and unusual work for Matheson, in that it's more than two pages long. It's the sad tale of a psychopathic truck driver with a keen religious obsession, and the landscape he moves within. The northern Alaska setting is one not often explored in horror, and the landscape conveys a sense of isolation and bleak despair. A powerful work. "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" by Catherynne Valente: Another zombie story (Can this fad end now? Please?), although this one is saved by Valente's lovely prose and the unusual portrayal of the "zombies." "The Folding Man" by Joe R. Lansdale: Lansdale always delivers, and this story of extremely creepy and unsettling nuns, and the pseudo-mechanical horror they unleash on a carload of pranksters, is a high point of this book. There is some truly gruesome and disturbing imagery found within this work. "Just Another Desert Night With Blood" by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr: Prose poem about a maniac, or some such. Not to my taste at all. "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee: A mysterious story about a plague of magpies that blankets Britain, and how people eventually come to live with it. Lee's work is always a joy to read, and while this is not my favorite of her stories, it is a pleasure. "At Night, When the Demons Come" by Ray Cluley: Another tale of a demonic apocalypse, although this one is distinguished from "Lesser Demons" by it's unrelentingly grim tone and horrifyingly nihilistic conclusion. It's less about the external horrors that cause the end of civilization than it is about the profound darkness dwelling in the depths of every human heart. "The Revel" by John Langan: It's rare for the same author to get two stories in the same Best-Of, but Langan was certainly deserving. As good as "City of the Dog" is, "The Revel" is better. While dealing with similar premises, the two stories differ in their approach. "The Revel" is nearly meta-fiction, with its cinematic language (even going so far as to describe camera angles) and direct implication of the reader as a willing accomplice in horror. Fantastic work here. If he keeps up with work of this quality, I really feel that Langan may be mention in the same breath as giants like King and Barker someday.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gary Siebert

    Datlow is a great editor and this is my favorite horror anthology series. I've read most of the volumes and plan to continue buying it until I have the complete collection.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a pretty good collection of horror stories. Most were well told and appropriately creepy. A few were kind of pointless and went overboard with the gore and senseless violence. Also, most of the stories were set either in New England or on the British Isles, which I found a little odd. At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow: A widowed/divorced veterinarian secretly provides care to a Greek woman's "horses" which turn out to be beastly half-men. The women who train and care for these beas This is a pretty good collection of horror stories. Most were well told and appropriately creepy. A few were kind of pointless and went overboard with the gore and senseless violence. Also, most of the stories were set either in New England or on the British Isles, which I found a little odd. At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow: A widowed/divorced veterinarian secretly provides care to a Greek woman's "horses" which turn out to be beastly half-men. The women who train and care for these beasts (including the Greek woman's tween students) are at once repulsed by and attracted to the beasts. "All men are beasts" says our narrator vet, referring to one of the beasts but thinking of her monstrous ex-husband. But what she apparently means is that, even when they act like beasts, all men are persons, and should be treated as such, despite what her past actions may indicate. Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver. An Oxford University professor's ex brother-in-law dies, and he gets tangled up in the endeavors of Mr. Pigsny -- a bizarre man who keeps leaving strange depictions of the dead brother-in-law in a form of hell. It turns out that Mr. Pigsny can make a person's view of the after-life true, and the professor must stop him from interfering with the afterlives of his acquaintances. This story had some great characters who were unique, believable, and fun to read about. City of the Dog by John Langan. A young college grad moves to Albany, NY, to pursue a job and (more importantly) a girl. His girlfriend was previously unfaithful with the college grad's roommate, and there are undead werewolves. This story was creepy, and the final scene was disturbing. Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge. A haunting story about a young boy who lives by himself in the third floor of his house. His parents have locked him up there and taken all paper and writing utensils from him because he can alter a person's body, even sever body parts, by drawing that person. A girl moves into the house next door, and the boy and girl develop a relationship by talking to each other from their bedroom windows, separated by the 12 feet of space between their houses. The girl has been abused, and the boy devises a way to help her escape, using his magical ability. I liked this one quite a bit. Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge. A small town sheriff and his deputy respond to a call about a car crash, and a monster bursts from the trunk of the wrecked car when they arrive. The sheriff and the deputy soon learn that a disease is spreading among humans that makes them dumb cannibals and that causes monsters to emerge from human corpses. The deputy calls those monsters "lesser demons" based on some old books he retrieves from the wrecked car. The deputy becomes obsessed with reading the books and figuring out how to stop them with the knowledge he is gaining. The sheriff (the POV character) thinks the deputy is wasting his time and wanders the town and surrounding areas shooting the cannibals and monsters. The deputy tries increasingly grotesque and bizarre experiments and on the cannibals and on himself. Eventually, of course, there is a conflict between the sheriff and the deputy, with tragic consequences. When the Zombies Win by Karina Sumner-Smith. A short reflection on what it would be like if zombies actually ate all the humans (or, thinking of it in more realistic terms, if all of the humans became zombies or otherwise died). --30-- by Laird Barron. Two ex-lovers slowly going crazy in an isolated observation camp in the badlands. Animals are acting weird, the two people are hallucinating while also treating each other horribly, and apparently there is either some type of time travel or they are having visions of the future. I did not like this story. Fallen Boys by Mark Morris. A teacher supervises several classes of children at an old mine in England. One boy is picked on by another boy, and the teacher secretly despises the picked-on boy, although she feels really bad about her hatred. During the tour of the old mine, their guide tells them a story about two boys who died or disappeared while the mine was still in operation. The lights suddenly go out on the tour, and when they come back on, the picked-on boy and the bully are missing. Tragedy ensues. Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert. Parents deal with their six-year-old daughters disturbing urge to pull the wings off of fairies, and the fairies try to get their revenge. A strange story that I didn't fully understand. Apparently the mother did something to the fairies long ago that caused the daughter's macabre fascination. The Fear by Richard Harland. This story started off really well. A group of friends who love horror movies discover a reel of film from one of their favorite directors. The movie was one of the first he made. Two of the friends travel around the world meeting with people from the movie and the director, trying to find out if the movie was ever finished. The story was really creepy until the resolution, which was a little disappointing and cliche. Till the Morning Comes by Stephen Graham Jones. A young boy's uncle comes to stay with his family. The boy wets the bed, cries easily, and otherwise disappoints his father repeatedly. The boy's uncle has scary posters of skeletons and other things on his wall. The uncle is a paramedic and tells the boy a story about a car crash involving a father and his two young sons. The father is killed in the accident, but somehow the sons hear their father singing even after he is dead. The uncle even heard the singing after he first arrived at the crash scene. The bed-wetter boy somehow knows the song, is convinced that the skeletons on the wall of his uncle's room are the ones who taught him the song, and has a hard time even passing by his uncle's room. The boy's brother disappears, his dad blames and then beats the uncle, and eventually the boy was found. This was a strange yet scary story. Shomer by Glen Hirshberg. A Jewish man who doesn't really practice his religion much any more is called home for the funeral of his uncle. The uncle's family to act as a "shomer" or guardian of the body while the family prepares for the funeral. The man's experiences at the funeral home are frightening, but they also teach him about the importance of his religion and the truth about the relationship he had with his uncle. I liked this one quite a bit. Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside by Christopher Fowler. A disturbing story about a teenage hoodlum in the seaside town they forgot to close down (yes, the one referenced in the Morrissey song) does increasingly bad things to animals and then people, steals some money, tries to flee the town, and is stopped by a arcade mannequin come to life. I did not like this story very much. The Obscure Bird by Nicholas Royle. A woman slowly understands why her marriage is growing cold. Her husband is a night owl, sitting at his laptop on social media (tweeting), wandering around in the forest behind their house, and staring out their kitchen window at an owl in their backyard. In fact, the husband is literally becoming an owl. Transfiguration by Richard Christian Matheson. A mentally ill man believes he is an angel, sent by God, to punish the wicked (and the "wicked" happen to be just about everyone he meets on his truck routes). He accidentally sees his face after breaking a mirror, and reality blows away his delusions. He must then face what he has done. He doesn't face it well. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles by Catherynne M. Valente. A young woman cares for her father, who is a zombie. She is essentially alone in a small town in Maine with hosts of other zombies. She records her life in notebooks she has taken from local stores, and tries to write in notebooks with the same covers, creating "eras" of time based upon the pictures on the covers. Hence, the title of the story. She discovers that, despite what the survivors in NYC broadcast on the radio, the zombies are not mindless. Her father still says her name, and occasionally he and the other zombies appear to be engaged in worship -- a rite that involves eating a sacrificial zombie. An interesting concept, but not much of a story here. The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale. A monstrous steampunk machine enlivened with a black bird in his chest, put there by monstrous nuns, who drive around looking for victims in their monstrous black car, chases a young man on Halloween night. This story was kind of pointless. Just Another Desert Night With Blood by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. Stream of consciousness from the point of view of a bad man (vampire?) doing bad things. I was not a fan of this story. Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee. England is plagued with magpies, which appear every 30 seconds or so and ascend quickly several thousand feet into the air and then just hang out there. A writer in the country deals with the problems this causes. At Night When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley. A woman masquerading as a man travels a post-apocalyptic world menaced by demons. The demons appear to all be women (although our main character hears a story indicating this may not be true). The woman betrays her companions to stay alive. The Revel by John Langan. A "meta" analysis of a horror story/film in which a werewolf terrorizes a small town in upstate New York. Meh.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Your mileage may vary. This collection contained mostly good stories. Some, like the "The Riding School" have stuck vividly with me over the last week. Others were not to my style, nor as memorable to me, but there is certainly a wide breadth of horror! From gore-heavy horror to creeping mental suspense/despair, this book is a really good sampler. I've noted down a few authors from it to look up on their own!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Edmund de Wight

    A collection of horror stories. Not all are your standard horror that's published in America. There's a very European feel to many of them; more introspective and moody - sometimes you have to reflect on what you read for a minute to realize the horror of the piece. I think one of my favorites piece was about 3/4 of the way through. It was called: The Days of Flaming Motorcycles It's a very different take on the zombie apocalypse. very creative. The good stories in this collectio A collection of horror stories. Not all are your standard horror that's published in America. There's a very European feel to many of them; more introspective and moody - sometimes you have to reflect on what you read for a minute to realize the horror of the piece. I think one of my favorites piece was about 3/4 of the way through. It was called: The Days of Flaming Motorcycles It's a very different take on the zombie apocalypse. very creative. The good stories in this collection are like that; different and thought provoking. There were a few that just didn't do it for me (that happens in any anthology) and had me flipping through to get to the next story. My liking this story says a lot about the concept because I am so bored with most zombie stories now. There's also a story about nuns, well not really, but evil creatures mistaken for nuns that was rather disturbing called The Folding Man. The anthology is also graced by a very strange story by the late great Tanith Lee. I don't want to ever see magpies starting to take wing where I live. Check out this collection; there are more good than bad so it's worth the read. You are sure to find a story or three that tickle your fancy. Who knows, the ones I didn't enjoy might be your new favorites.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth Roberts

    I've read three of the anthologies in this series now and what's surprising to me is the consistency. I've rated all three volumes 4 stars, arriving at that figure by rating the individual stories and then calculating an overall average as the standing rating for the book as a whole. I'm beginning to wonder if this is fair: in each of the last two anthologies, there was one story each that I dnf'ed and gave 1 star for. In this anthology, some of the 5-stars really stood out and it seemed to me t I've read three of the anthologies in this series now and what's surprising to me is the consistency. I've rated all three volumes 4 stars, arriving at that figure by rating the individual stories and then calculating an overall average as the standing rating for the book as a whole. I'm beginning to wonder if this is fair: in each of the last two anthologies, there was one story each that I dnf'ed and gave 1 star for. In this anthology, some of the 5-stars really stood out and it seemed to me there were quite a few of those 5er's in this batch. If you had told me that two of those 5-stars would be zombie tales, I wouldn't have believed it -zombies fall only slightly above little green men in terms of tropes I hate. But that's a fact: both Marina Sumner-Smith's and Catherynne M. Valentine's entries were outstanding, each evocative and poignant. As usual, here's my breakdown: At the Riding School/Cody Goodfellow 5 Mr. Pigsny/Reggie Oliver 5 City of the Dog/John Langan 5 Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls/Brian Hodge 5 Lesser Demons/Norman Partridge 4 When the Zombies Win/Marina Sumner-Smith 5 --30--/Laird Barron 4.5 Fallen Boys/Mark Morris 4.5 Was She Wicked? Was She Good?/M. Rickety 5 The Fear/Richard Garland 4.5 Till the Morning Comes/Stephen Graham Jones 5 Shomer/Glen Gutenberg 5 Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside/Christopher Fowler 3 The Obscure Bird/Nicholas Doyle 4 Transfiguration/Richard Christian Matheson 5 The Days of Flaming Motorcycles/Catherynne M. Valente 5 The Folding Man/Joe R. Lansdale 2.5 Just Another Desert Night with Blood/Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. 1 (stream of consciousness nonsense) Black and White Sky/Tanith Lee 5 At Night, When the Demons Come/Ray Cluley 4 The Revel/John Langan 5

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I did not care for this book at all. First of all, I would have a hard time calling any of these stories horror. Just didn't do it for me. Some of the stories were absolutely unreadable. Not good

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lallen

    Better I like short stories. These are interesting, but not really scary. After reading the book, the only story that stuck with me was the one about the magpies, and that stuck because it was so ludicrous.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Fast

    This book has some stories that were good and the good ones even had points of confusion. I think artsy and deep was put before clarity and focus on most of these stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Favorite stories from this collection: The Riding School City of the Dog Lesser Demons -30- The Fear Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls Transfiguration

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barron

    I only give this book three stars. It was good, and I enjoyed most of the stories, but there were just too many that I struggled through to give it any higher a ranking. I actually skipped most of the first 10-12% of the book because it was all talk about awards and writers and mostly junk that did not make it into the anthology because it was too long like novels and novellas. I don't want to read about all that. I want stories!!! Of the stories that were in the book I would say that I only give this book three stars. It was good, and I enjoyed most of the stories, but there were just too many that I struggled through to give it any higher a ranking. I actually skipped most of the first 10-12% of the book because it was all talk about awards and writers and mostly junk that did not make it into the anthology because it was too long like novels and novellas. I don't want to read about all that. I want stories!!! Of the stories that were in the book I would say that I enjoyed roughly 60% of them. I really enjoyed the short poem "When the Zombies Win." Also the final story was written like a "How to" book on how to write a werewolf story so I thought that was different. Honestly, I had never heard of any of the authors of any of the stories, and I am not well read enough in the genre to know who to compare individuals to. For me this book was okay but nothing to brag about. I much prefer the Sci-Fi anthologies of John Joseph Adams. I also have "The Best of #4" which I might read later, but it won't be anytime soon. I am presently reading and listening to NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and it is very good so far.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom Harold

    I enjoyed this collection and was particularly surprised to find how much I enjoyed the lengthy "year in review" prior to the stories themselves. There were only one or two stories that I just couldn't get into, but the rest I felt were very good with some outstanding pieces in the lot of them. I liked Velente's "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" very much, particularly for the voice of the main character as well as the twist on the usual zombie idea. Hirshberg's "Shomer" was a good one with the I enjoyed this collection and was particularly surprised to find how much I enjoyed the lengthy "year in review" prior to the stories themselves. There were only one or two stories that I just couldn't get into, but the rest I felt were very good with some outstanding pieces in the lot of them. I liked Velente's "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" very much, particularly for the voice of the main character as well as the twist on the usual zombie idea. Hirshberg's "Shomer" was a good one with the idea of death presented within the beliefs of Judaism. Rickert's "Was She Wicked, Was She Good?" was terrifying in its presentation of the innocently evil deeds of a small child. Hodge's "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls" was outstanding. I loved his story idea. Wish I'd though of it myself! I could go on, but I think you get the idea that I thought this was a great collection.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I tend not to care for anthologies; the ratio of stories I like versus stories I don’t is usually skewed too far to the negative. This book is the exception. Editor Datlow truly has harvested the best this year; while there were one or two stories that really didn’t do much for me, none of them made me wonder why they had been selected. The stories run the gamut from werewolves to ugly mutant nuns with foldaway killer robots- mutant nuns who take offense to being mooned- to zombies with feelings I tend not to care for anthologies; the ratio of stories I like versus stories I don’t is usually skewed too far to the negative. This book is the exception. Editor Datlow truly has harvested the best this year; while there were one or two stories that really didn’t do much for me, none of them made me wonder why they had been selected. The stories run the gamut from werewolves to ugly mutant nuns with foldaway killer robots- mutant nuns who take offense to being mooned- to zombies with feelings. Several are post-apocalyptic. Demons, children with talents so special they scare their parents, horrible things in the Washington state desert (Really? Did you have to set it there? I drive through there sometimes), ancient Greek satyrs and Dianic women; the offerings vary widely. There is something for every horror fan in this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shazza Maddog

    A collection of horrific short stories, with ideas ranging from the last living person in a zombie village, to a post-apocalyptic world, where women and demons are seen as interchangeable, and both are often destroyed without a thought, The Best Horror of the Year lives up to its title. With some amazing authors (Richard Matheson and Tanith Lee, to name some of the stand-outs), there is a story in this collection for nearly everyone. From the absurd to the truly horrific, the ongoing flavor is dread A collection of horrific short stories, with ideas ranging from the last living person in a zombie village, to a post-apocalyptic world, where women and demons are seen as interchangeable, and both are often destroyed without a thought, The Best Horror of the Year lives up to its title. With some amazing authors (Richard Matheson and Tanith Lee, to name some of the stand-outs), there is a story in this collection for nearly everyone. From the absurd to the truly horrific, the ongoing flavor is dread, with just a hint of curiosity as to how anyone's going to make it out alive. A very fun collection, and worth reading if you have any interest in the horrific.

  26. 5 out of 5

    R.G. Evans

    The trend in this 2011 collection seems to be versions of apocalyptic horror--"At Night, When the Demons Come,"Lesser Demons," "When the Zombies Win." The standouts among such tales here are Tanith Lee's "Black and White Sky" which closes on a series of horrifically claustrophobic images that readers will not soon forget and the most original zombie story I've ever read, "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles," by Catherynne M. Valente. The collection closes with a thought-provoking post-modern werewo The trend in this 2011 collection seems to be versions of apocalyptic horror--"At Night, When the Demons Come,"Lesser Demons," "When the Zombies Win." The standouts among such tales here are Tanith Lee's "Black and White Sky" which closes on a series of horrifically claustrophobic images that readers will not soon forget and the most original zombie story I've ever read, "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles," by Catherynne M. Valente. The collection closes with a thought-provoking post-modern werewolf meta-fiction by John Langan titled "The Revel." One of the best horror collections I've read in years--made me want to get back to writing horror fiction myself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Xarah

    My favorites in this collection are: "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls" by Brian Hodge (I found the ending to be quite haunting) "--30--" by Laird Barron (I found this story to be haunting as well. It, strangely, reminded me of archaeological surveys and how those can be in abandoned locations and kind of creepy) "Transfiguration" by Richard Christian Matheson (The alone-ness is what's scary) "The Days of the Flaming Motorcycles" by Catherynne M. Valente My favorites in this collection are: "Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls" by Brian Hodge (I found the ending to be quite haunting) "--30--" by Laird Barron (I found this story to be haunting as well. It, strangely, reminded me of archaeological surveys and how those can be in abandoned locations and kind of creepy) "Transfiguration" by Richard Christian Matheson (The alone-ness is what's scary) "The Days of the Flaming Motorcycles" by Catherynne M. Valente (An interesting take on a zombie apocalypse) "The Folding Man" by Joe R. Lansdale (I had read this story before in another collection, still found it to be scary) "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee (Just scary, and weird)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Inoli

    The stories ranged from three stars to four. There weren't any that I didn't like. I found out that modern horror includes some surprisingly strange, bizarre things. It's not necessarily about fright or suspense but might include anything to stun your sensibilities with strangeness. I wish I could go through the body of stories and comment on each one but that time & frame of mind doesn't exist right now. The book as a whole also get's some point value for Ms. Datlow's 35 page review of horr The stories ranged from three stars to four. There weren't any that I didn't like. I found out that modern horror includes some surprisingly strange, bizarre things. It's not necessarily about fright or suspense but might include anything to stun your sensibilities with strangeness. I wish I could go through the body of stories and comment on each one but that time & frame of mind doesn't exist right now. The book as a whole also get's some point value for Ms. Datlow's 35 page review of horror publications of various types for that year.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Vivian

    This anthology had so many great stories, I just can't even begin to tell about all of them. So here's short list: Folding Man was a great action story. Was She Wicked? Was She Good? Was so different very short and sweet. --30-- just left me with my mouth open Transfiguration just confirmed that I'm not the only one that thinks that The Alaskan ice is a great place forEvil. Night Demons shook me to my core. The ending is a heart breaker. I recommend this book to an This anthology had so many great stories, I just can't even begin to tell about all of them. So here's short list: Folding Man was a great action story. Was She Wicked? Was She Good? Was so different very short and sweet. --30-- just left me with my mouth open Transfiguration just confirmed that I'm not the only one that thinks that The Alaskan ice is a great place forEvil. Night Demons shook me to my core. The ending is a heart breaker. I recommend this book to any horror fan.

  30. 5 out of 5

    thebaronessofbooks

    Some of the stories were interesting, well written, and genuinely scary. But more often than not it felt like a lot of these stories just had a "scary" element added to them just so they could be in this collection. I wouldn't call it "The Best Horror of the Year" by a long shot. But the few really good stories I felt made up for it enough to keep plowing through this book and to give it an extra star.

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