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999: Twenty-nine Original Tales of Horror and Suspense

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A ward-winning writer and editor Al Sarrantonio gathers together twenty-nine original stories from masters of the macabre. From dark fantasy and pure suspense to classic horror tales of vampires and zombies, 999 showcases the extraordinary scope of fantastical fright fiction. The stories in this anthology are a relentless tour de force of fear, which will haunt you, terrif A ward-winning writer and editor Al Sarrantonio gathers together twenty-nine original stories from masters of the macabre. From dark fantasy and pure suspense to classic horror tales of vampires and zombies, 999 showcases the extraordinary scope of fantastical fright fiction. The stories in this anthology are a relentless tour de force of fear, which will haunt you, terrify you, and keep the adrenaline rushing all through the night.


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A ward-winning writer and editor Al Sarrantonio gathers together twenty-nine original stories from masters of the macabre. From dark fantasy and pure suspense to classic horror tales of vampires and zombies, 999 showcases the extraordinary scope of fantastical fright fiction. The stories in this anthology are a relentless tour de force of fear, which will haunt you, terrif A ward-winning writer and editor Al Sarrantonio gathers together twenty-nine original stories from masters of the macabre. From dark fantasy and pure suspense to classic horror tales of vampires and zombies, 999 showcases the extraordinary scope of fantastical fright fiction. The stories in this anthology are a relentless tour de force of fear, which will haunt you, terrify you, and keep the adrenaline rushing all through the night.

30 review for 999: Twenty-nine Original Tales of Horror and Suspense

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trudi

    I am judging this collection of short stories with an especially critical eye for several reasons: 1) it promises to deliver some of the best original horror stories by authors at the pinnacle of their craft (including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Edward Lee and William Peter Blatty) 2) it received the 1999 Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology and 3) despite my commitment to finish this 700+ page anthology (and neglecting many other books while I persevered), it still took me too long to finish - I am judging this collection of short stories with an especially critical eye for several reasons: 1) it promises to deliver some of the best original horror stories by authors at the pinnacle of their craft (including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Edward Lee and William Peter Blatty) 2) it received the 1999 Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology and 3) despite my commitment to finish this 700+ page anthology (and neglecting many other books while I persevered), it still took me too long to finish - almost 2 weeks! That tells me at no time was I ever so engrossed the pages turned themselves. Finally, upon finishing, I'm hard pressed to remember salient details from any of the stories. The majority feel blurry. Not one punched me in the solar plexus and left me thinking about it for days. Even Stephen King's contribution, "The Road Virus Heads North" isn't one of my favorites by him (and one I had read before anyway when it was republished in King's anthology Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales). I am particularly disappointed with the contributions from Neil Gaiman and William Peter Blatty. Gaiman's story is dark and crude, rough and profane, nothing about it even "felt" like Gaiman. Blatty offers up a very underwhelming haunted house story that borrows too heavily from other sources like Richard Matheson and Shirley Jackson. Blatty not only closes the anthology, his story is more the length of a novella. The extra pages don’t help in my opinion. It is an easily forgettable tale with a “surprise” ending that should come as no surprise because we’ve seen it too many times before. Stories that did manage to stand out though include: “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Thomas M. Disch: this one has a nice creepy feel and once you finally understand what’s happening, the “a-ha” moment is very rewarding. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and for that alone it gets high marks. A diamond in the rough indeed. “Catfish Gal Blues” by Nancy A. Collins This one features a freeloading, womanizing pretty boy guitar player with a streak of greed that leads him down the path to a final comeuppance. There is a bluesy, southern feel to it all that I liked very much. “The Entertainment” by Ramsey Campbell I haven’t read a lot by Campbell but plan on rectifying that as soon as possible. I’m not sure exactly what the hell is happening in the freakish hotel the main character finds himself stranded in one rainy night (I’m not sure I want to know). It’s bad news, I know that, and I was thoroughly creeped out the whole time and just wanted him to get the hell out of there post-haste. Parts of this story actually reminded me somewhat of how I felt reading The Pilo Family Circus. There is no humor in Campbell’s story though; it is all very deadly serious. “ICU” by Edward Lee I don’t know if I should be surprised or not that my favorite story of the entire collection is this little diddy by gore master Edward Lee. My only exposure to Lee has been his notorious novel The Bighead (which I just couldn’t stomach and failed to finish). Here, he offers up his devilish version of a “just desserts” story. The ending isn’t completely original, I just love how Lee delivers it in his own demented style. For a guy who usually cannot hold back on the gruesome details, he is nicely subtle here allowing the reader to imagine the worst. “Angie” by Ed Gorman I really liked this one too. It’s a simple story effectively rendered, a real snapshot of regular people and the choices made when driven by pure selfishness. There is no comeuppance here, no just desserts, which is likely much more a reflection of reality. I think we would be shocked to learn just what ordinary people would be capable of doing (and doing so without suffering any guilt). I think more sociopaths walk among us than we would like to think about or admit. October Country 2011 #7

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Fatah Steele

    Although now a decade old, this anthology remains quite dear to me. Thanks to Sarrantonio, I was introduced to quite a number of new Horror Authors; those who don't get the same marketing blitz as King or Koontz. And thank Cthulhu for that! While some of the "Old Guard" stand up and take notice here (Campbell, Blatty, Oates, ect.), I also got to check out short works by Kim Newman and Neil Gaiman. While I was already a fan of both authors, I soon started following Edward Lee and F. Paul Wilson a Although now a decade old, this anthology remains quite dear to me. Thanks to Sarrantonio, I was introduced to quite a number of new Horror Authors; those who don't get the same marketing blitz as King or Koontz. And thank Cthulhu for that! While some of the "Old Guard" stand up and take notice here (Campbell, Blatty, Oates, ect.), I also got to check out short works by Kim Newman and Neil Gaiman. While I was already a fan of both authors, I soon started following Edward Lee and F. Paul Wilson as well. To me, just about every tale in this anthology is excellent. Not only excellent, but important. It's a great sampling of what some of the finest horror writers of today are producing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dark-Draco

    This is a great collection of horror and suspense stories. A huge book, cotaining 17 short stories, 8 novelettes, 3 novellas and 1 short story. Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Eric Van Lustbader, Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman are just some of the authors. There's some gore-fest, some psycological thrillers, some creature feature stories, but I'm sure everyone will find something they enjoy. I found it hard to pick my favourite. 'Elsewhere' by William Peter Blatty (who wrote 'The Exorcist') is brillian This is a great collection of horror and suspense stories. A huge book, cotaining 17 short stories, 8 novelettes, 3 novellas and 1 short story. Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Eric Van Lustbader, Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman are just some of the authors. There's some gore-fest, some psycological thrillers, some creature feature stories, but I'm sure everyone will find something they enjoy. I found it hard to pick my favourite. 'Elsewhere' by William Peter Blatty (who wrote 'The Exorcist') is brilliantly written and entertaining, but I felt it was a bit predictable. So, for my favourite, it's going to be 'Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue' by Kim Newman. Enjoy - and feel free to sleep with the lights on!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I have this book on one of my "to keep" paperback shelves. There are quite a few stories in here that I liked a lot, and very few that I just didn't care for. In an anthology, that's quite a feat!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kandice

    Those five stars are for my favorite five stories in this collection. I am going to review each of them separately below when I have a few minutes. I didn't love every story presented, but those I did more than made up for those I didn't. Awesome editing Sarrantonio. "The Road Virus Heads North" by Stephen King *****– This is a very scary story and I have read it many times. A recurring theme in King’s writing is a character’s ability to see the future in some way, and yet be powerless to change Those five stars are for my favorite five stories in this collection. I am going to review each of them separately below when I have a few minutes. I didn't love every story presented, but those I did more than made up for those I didn't. Awesome editing Sarrantonio. "The Road Virus Heads North" by Stephen King *****– This is a very scary story and I have read it many times. A recurring theme in King’s writing is a character’s ability to see the future in some way, and yet be powerless to change or stop it. Such is the case here. What always gets me most with this story is the phrase “filed teeth”. I cringe just typing those words. Not only do I imagine they look terrifying, but I clench in anticipation of pain at the idea of actually DOING that to oneself. Again, ick! "Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story" by Neil Gaiman ***** – I read this on the plane and cannot tell you how uncomfortable I was almost from the first paragraph. I was actually sweating and had to reach up and turn on the little fan thing above my seat. I was squirming and felt a little grimy just for having witnessed what happened between the lines on the page. Gaiman is very careful to never come right out and say what’s happening, but anyone with half a brain just knows. Yuck! Kudos to him for not only making me feel so strongly, but for doing it in so few pages. "Elsewhere" by William Peter Blatty ***** This is just a mindf*#k! I mean a serious screwing. You read it and then you are carried back to the beginning. It’s an absolute ourobouros which is my very favorite kind of story. Blatty is a genius storyteller, as everyone knows, and this is not exception to his craft.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Midwood

    A very good short-story collection of horror. I particularly enjoyed "The Ruins of Contracoeur," "The Road Virus Heads North," "The Theatre," and "Elsewhere." I would definitely recommend it to all fans of the genre!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tye

    I read this many years back and know that I really enjoyed it at the time, but sadly cannot recall much from it. I do remember that I felt quite pleasantly unsettled by Joyce Carol Oates's entry

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caro

    Anthologies are always a mixed bag- you can't please everyone all of the time. But this one was a bit more "mixed-baggish" than I was expecting. To be fair, I'm not really a big fan of fantasy (okay, I loath it), and many of these stories are quite heavy on the fantasy/"aren't I writing just the quirkiest thing ever" element, so that may have biased my opinion. The standouts for me: The Ruins of Contracoeur by Joyce Carol Oates, The Entertainment by Ramsey Campbell, The Shadow, The Darkness by T Anthologies are always a mixed bag- you can't please everyone all of the time. But this one was a bit more "mixed-baggish" than I was expecting. To be fair, I'm not really a big fan of fantasy (okay, I loath it), and many of these stories are quite heavy on the fantasy/"aren't I writing just the quirkiest thing ever" element, so that may have biased my opinion. The standouts for me: The Ruins of Contracoeur by Joyce Carol Oates, The Entertainment by Ramsey Campbell, The Shadow, The Darkness by Thomas Ligotti, Mad Dog Summer by Joe R. Lansdale, and Elsewhere by William Peter Blatty (the premise and storyline of which are completely unoriginal, and the whole thing reads like it's been sitting in his desk drawer since 1983 and he pulled it out and tinkered with the dates, however...his writing is so good, he can suck you in, make you forget you're reading, and scare the ever-loving daylights right out of you. I wish he had dedicated his career to writing horror novels and not Hollywood screenplays, but what can you do). Something else I'd like to note is Al Sarrantonio's lukewarm to the point of passive-aggressive introduction to Thomas Ligotti. It puzzles me. Maybe even angers me, especially given the almost girly gushing other, and in my opinion, less accomplished, writers received. Ligotti's story is wonderful, of course- beautifully written, dense, off-kilter, flavoured like a German Expressionist painting- it's also extremely funny and he even pokes very obvious fun at himself. Al Sarrantonio's own contribution is one of those fantasy-driven stories I mentioned above, seemingly quite taken with it's own cleverness. Perhaps that annoyed me even further. So this was definitely worth the read- a small handful of excellent stories, some good and entertaining stories, some dreck, and some that just didn't work for me, personally.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    First off, let me say that there are quite a few typo errors in the version that I read. However, they in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this most excellent collection of stories in the horror genre, collected by Al Sarrantonio. This is at least the third book that I have read that was edited by Mr. Sarrantonio, and I must say that I like his choices. This is a rather hefty book, weighing in at almost 700 pages (666 for the ebook and more than that for the paperback), and includes a very First off, let me say that there are quite a few typo errors in the version that I read. However, they in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this most excellent collection of stories in the horror genre, collected by Al Sarrantonio. This is at least the third book that I have read that was edited by Mr. Sarrantonio, and I must say that I like his choices. This is a rather hefty book, weighing in at almost 700 pages (666 for the ebook and more than that for the paperback), and includes a very large number of stories by authors that are both instantly recognizable, and some, not so much, or at least I had not heard of them before. The chilling finale of the book is a novelette by William Peter Blatty (famed author of The Exorcist), called "Elsewhere." I think it wise that Al chose to save it for last, because it might be the best story in the collection. Among my other favorites were "The Ruins of Contracoeur," by Joyce Carol Oates, "The Road Virus Heads North," by Stephen King (one of my all time favorite King shorts), "Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story," by Neil Gaiman, "An Exaltation of Termagants," by Eric Van Lustbader, "Itinerary," by Tim Powers, "Catfish Gal Blues," by Nancy A. Collins, "The Grave," By P.D. Cacek, "The Shadow, the Darkness," by Thomas Ligotti, "Rio Grande Gothic," by David Morell, "The Ropy Thing," by Al Sarrantonio, "The Book of Irrational Numbers," by Michael Marshall Smith, and "Mad Dog Summer," by Joe R. Lansdale. This doesn't mean I didn't like the rest of the stories. These are just the ones that really stood out. I would recommend this book for any fan of the genre. It is, as I said earlier, a most excellent representation of the variety of the horror genre, and introduced me to some excellent authors. Incidentally, is it a coincidence that the ebook version of 999 had exactly 666 pages?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Keri Ann

    I liked this book, I just didn't love it. Seeing Stephen King as a contributor is what drew me to the book in the first place. Turns out that the story he added (The Road Virus Heads North) was something I had already read in Everything's Eventual, however it is a great story for anyone who's never read it. There were a few stories in 999 that I might consider reading again, but the majority of the stories left me wanting for something. A lot of the time I found myself finishing the story and th I liked this book, I just didn't love it. Seeing Stephen King as a contributor is what drew me to the book in the first place. Turns out that the story he added (The Road Virus Heads North) was something I had already read in Everything's Eventual, however it is a great story for anyone who's never read it. There were a few stories in 999 that I might consider reading again, but the majority of the stories left me wanting for something. A lot of the time I found myself finishing the story and then having to go back a few pages to see if I had missed a plot line somewhere, some of them just left me confused. I was most disappointed by The Ruins of Contracoeur by Joyce Carol Oates...it had an amazing opening and a very disjointed ending, it just left me confused. The book wasn't all bad though, I really loved Good Friday, Catfish Gal Blues, Rio Grande Gothic, Hemophage, Mad Dog Summer, and Elsewhere. The way I see it, the good is really good but the bad is mostly just confusing. Overall it's not a bad read if you like short stories, just be prepared for a little more bore than gore.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Rooke

    A startlingly dark short story featuring some characters from the American Gods sequel-novella “The Monarch of the Glen”. Like “Anansi Boys”, it’s very iterative in the sense of not really following up on “American Gods” in any direct ways - for much of my time reading the story I was honestly not quite sure if it’s even meant to be in the same universe as it, or if Gaiman was just reusing certain characters - which works in its favour, as it does have its own particular style. Very “crime movie A startlingly dark short story featuring some characters from the American Gods sequel-novella “The Monarch of the Glen”. Like “Anansi Boys”, it’s very iterative in the sense of not really following up on “American Gods” in any direct ways - for much of my time reading the story I was honestly not quite sure if it’s even meant to be in the same universe as it, or if Gaiman was just reusing certain characters - which works in its favour, as it does have its own particular style. Very “crime movie with a persistent voiceover”. The imagery was very evocative, perhaps because the story was apparently originally intended to be a comic. A short read, but a fascinating one. I give it three “Particular Cabs” and a “Shahinai bat-thing”.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Pfaff

    This book is a must-read for people looking to gain an introduction to the horror field or looking to expand their range of authors to read. Some of the highlights included: Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue - Kim Newman The Owl and the Pussycat - Thomas M. Disch The Road Virus Heads North - Stephen King Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story - Neil Gaiman An Exaltation of Termagants - Eric Van Lustbader Catfish Gal Blues - Nancy A. Collins Rio Grande Gothic - David Morell The Tree is My Hat - Gene W This book is a must-read for people looking to gain an introduction to the horror field or looking to expand their range of authors to read. Some of the highlights included: Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue - Kim Newman The Owl and the Pussycat - Thomas M. Disch The Road Virus Heads North - Stephen King Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story - Neil Gaiman An Exaltation of Termagants - Eric Van Lustbader Catfish Gal Blues - Nancy A. Collins Rio Grande Gothic - David Morell The Tree is My Hat - Gene Wolfe Elsewhere - William Peter Blatty and my personal favorite: Mad Dog Summer - Joe R. Lansdale

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lyndsay Mccrossin

    What a delicious collection of tasty literary morsels; I gobbled them up greedily each evening, refusing to go to sleep at appropriate hours, just to find myself unable to sleep anyway when I finally did hit the pillow. These stories of horror will make your skin crawl, your eyes double check for ghosties in the corners of your bedroom, and your body hair stiffen as your flesh gooses in terror. This collection scared the hell out of me and I enjoyed every second of it. If you enjoy the horror ge What a delicious collection of tasty literary morsels; I gobbled them up greedily each evening, refusing to go to sleep at appropriate hours, just to find myself unable to sleep anyway when I finally did hit the pillow. These stories of horror will make your skin crawl, your eyes double check for ghosties in the corners of your bedroom, and your body hair stiffen as your flesh gooses in terror. This collection scared the hell out of me and I enjoyed every second of it. If you enjoy the horror genre, the totally underrated and wonderful horror genre, then this is a true treat for you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pia Cathrin

    Most of the tales in this book are very captivating. It's a big book, but since it consists of individual stories by various authors ... well, it makes it easy to read. A few of the stories were a bit huh? to me. I guess I didn't quite get the point of them or didn't find them scary. But overall this book is worth the read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Fuck it. I'm throwing in the towel, I just couldn't finish this book

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    999 is a collection of 28 short stories and one novella that are all in the genre of horror and dark suspense. The collection includes some superstar authors such as Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, and David Morrell, but all of the authors are established writers and most will be familiar to readers in this genre. I won’t go into each story in depth, but will list and briefly describe each. A few of the stories stuck with me, while others were quite forgettable—so I’ll point out whi 999 is a collection of 28 short stories and one novella that are all in the genre of horror and dark suspense. The collection includes some superstar authors such as Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, and David Morrell, but all of the authors are established writers and most will be familiar to readers in this genre. I won’t go into each story in depth, but will list and briefly describe each. A few of the stories stuck with me, while others were quite forgettable—so I’ll point out which were which. Your results may vary. 1.) “Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue” by Kim Newman: This is a Cold War Zombie story. It was intriguing. 2.) “The Ruins of Contracoeur” by Joyce Carol Oates: The family of a disgraced Judge move to a remote area to stay out of the limelight, and faceless monster sightings ensue. How bad could a Joyce Carol Oates’ story be? It’s solid and well-written. It wasn’t among my favorites. 3.) “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Thomas M. Disch: An “inanimate” stuffed owl and plush-toy cat converse about their wicked, spouse-abusing owner. Creepy, but not one of the strongest entries. The stories in this collection range from realism to far-fetched speculative fiction. This work is toward the latter end of the spectrum. 4.) “The Road Virus Heads North” by Stephen King: A mutating “killer” picture is obtained at a yard sale. This is among the stronger stories. 5.) “Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story” by Neil Gaiman: About a collector of the “exotic.” While Gaiman is my favorite author of this bunch, I can’t say this is story was among my favorites of the collection. I will say that it has some of the cleverest wording of any of the stories (as one would expect of Gaiman), but maybe that humor works at right-angles to the story. You decide. 6.) “Growing Things” by T.E.D. Klein: About a husband / Mr. Fixit and his following of advice columns on a growth. This is a short piece, but not among the more memorable stories. It’s innovative, but not the least bit intense. 7.) “Good Friday” by F. Paul Wilson: A vampire story set in a convent. A good story, but obviously not particularly innovative. However, if you like the idea of nuns battling vampires, here’s your story. 8.) “Excerpts from the Records of the New Zodiac and the Diaries of Henry Watson Fairfax” by Chet Williamson: A swanky dinner club that rotates hosts and each host tries to outdo the last in the presentation of “exotic delicacies.” 9.) “An Exaltation of Termagants” by Eric Van Lustbader: I’ll have to be honest; this was the least memorable of these stories. When I flipped back through to write this review, I found that I’d completely forgotten the piece. I think its lack of memorableness speaks for itself. It’s about an unappealing man and his sucky life that’s tied to his poor relationships with women. I think the problem is two-fold. First, it’s one of the longer stories in the collection. Second, unlike Joe R. Lansdale’s “Mad Dog Summer,” it’s a long short story without memorable characters or a taut story arc. In short, if you’re going to go long, you’ve got to give us characters we can either love or despise, and you’ve got to give us a pace that keeps us intrigued. This story does neither. I know it’s all subjective, but I think this collection without this story would be improved. 10.) “Itinerary” by Tim Powers: A mysterious caller asks the protagonist to tell an unknown woman caller that said caller “just left” in response to her inquiry. From there the story meanders into personal tragedy before bringing it all back together in the end. It was so-so. I liked the premise, but it didn’t have that x-factor in execution. 11.) “Catfish Gal Blues” by Nancy A. Collins: A river catfish mermaid story. This was a weird but highly memorable story. 12.) “The Entertainment” by Ramsey Campbell: Man thinks he’s checked into a hotel, but it’s really some sort of asylum. Not the most memorable, but not the least either. 13.) “ICU” by Edward Lee: Man awakes in an ICU, and is informed that he’s a gangster involved in pedophilia and other hardcore taboo pornography. Vivid and well-crafted. 14.) “The Grave” by P.D. Cacek: A young woman with a horrible mother discovers a grave in the woods that she’s never seen before. This one is eery and visceral. 15.) “The Shadow, The Darkness” by Thomas Ligotti: About a tour group promised “the ultimate physical-metaphysical excursion.” This paranormal story is just OK. 16.) “Knocking” by Rick Hautala: Remember Y2K? It was the idea that the entirety of the world of computing would come to a screeching halt because their little (inadequately-programmed) computer minds would be blown by a date starting in “20?” This story is based on that notion. 17.) “Rio Grande Gothic” by David Morrell: A cop keeps finding shoes left in the same section of road, and eventually begins to wonder if someone isn’t trying to tell him something. This story does a good job of capturing one’s curiosity and keeping one’s attention. 18.) “Des Saucisses, Sans Doute” by Peter Schneider: This is one of the shorter stories in the book, and it’s also an almost absurdist dark piece. You may laugh or you may vomit, either way the writer had an effect. 19.) “Angie” by Ed Gorman: This story is white-trash gothic. It’s about a couple that are “stuck” with this kid, and are concerned that the child has learned their dirty, little secret and will turn them in. It was one of the stories that stuck with me most intensely. The unlikable character development is exceptional. 20.) “The Ropy Thing” by Al Sarrantonio: A couple of kids in a neighborhood assaulted by a thing that is… well, ropy (rope-like.) Not one of the better pieces, but it has the virtue of being short. 21.) “The Tree is My Hat” by Gene Wolfe: A man befriends an outcast on island in the South Pacific. It’s a solid piece. 22.) “Styx and Bones” by Edward Bryant: A cheating man comes down with a mysterious ailment. This is a well-executed story. 23.) “Hemophage” by Steven Spruill: Another vampire story, this one set inside a detective story. 24.) “The Book of Irrational Numbers” by Michael Marshall Smith: It’s about a guy from Roanoke, Virginia who is obsessed with numbers. As there aren’t many math short stories, if you are a big fan of math fiction you may find this interesting. The writing style is fun. If you aren’t a math fan, you may lose the story. 25.) “Mad Dog Summer” by Joe R. Lansdale: A man recounts a story of murder from his youth living in a rural community. This is one of the strongest stories in the collection. It’s also one of the longest, but the author does an outstanding job of keeping one’s attention throughout. 26.) “The Theatre” by Bentley Little: A clerk at a bookstore ventures into a forbidden floor above the store to find a creepy theater that will change his life. It’s a good, creepy story. 27.) “Rehersals” by Thomas F. Monteleone: I don’t know that I would have put this in the same genre as the other stories, but it’s an excellent story—and so I can see why the editor was eager to include it. It is speculative fiction, as opposed to being realist, but I wouldn’t count it as either horror or suspense. It’s about a man handling props in a community theater who is given glimpses into what his life could have been like if he’d stood up to his abusive father. It’s one of the best stories in the collection. 28.) “Darkness” by Dennis L. McKiernan: A man moves into a beautiful house willed to him by an eccentric uncle. The problem is that the lights in the house are so bright as to be an assault on the eyes—leaving not a shadow or dark space in the house. The lights are wired to be either all on or all off. It doesn’t occur to the nephew that the lights might be that way for a reason. 29.) “Elsewhere” by William Peter Blatty: This is the longest piece--a novella / very short novel and not a short story. It’s about a realtor who’s trying to sell a house that’s haunted. She brings together a writer and a couple “experts on the paranormal” to debunk the haunting so that the house will become salable. But everything is not as it appears. This is a good collection of stories. Some are better than others, but the best are extraordinary. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes horror, dark suspense, or the macabre. Within that genre, it’s an eclectic mix of stories in form, substance, and style.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gilda Felt

    Over 650 pages, a quarter of a million words, and enough adrenaline rushes to keep the average horror reader up for nights, 999 is dark decadence indeed. I was expecting more from this book. “Never-before-published tales” by King and Wilson, I’m there, and they didn’t disappoint. But I can’t say the same for the rest of the book. Too many of the stories may have had things going on that were horrifying, but they weren’t horror stories. One pleasant exception (other than King and Wilson,) was Rehe Over 650 pages, a quarter of a million words, and enough adrenaline rushes to keep the average horror reader up for nights, 999 is dark decadence indeed. I was expecting more from this book. “Never-before-published tales” by King and Wilson, I’m there, and they didn’t disappoint. But I can’t say the same for the rest of the book. Too many of the stories may have had things going on that were horrifying, but they weren’t horror stories. One pleasant exception (other than King and Wilson,) was Rehearsals, by Thomas Monteleone. But even it is more Twilight Zone-y than true horror. I’ve stopped reading anthologies because they can be so uneven, but I bought this one a long time ago, and finally gave it a go. Turns out it’s about as uneven as you can get.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This was a tough one to get through. I appreciate now, why horror-anthology readers were quick to give this book one or two star at best over at Amazon; it’s not what I’d call a “horror anthology” nor is there much in the way of suspense, but the marketing and the title itself suggests otherwise. This book is more a ‘weird tales with interesting characters’. I get it - the editor was obviously going for the same readers that made Hitchcock suspense anthologies so popular...but most of the stories This was a tough one to get through. I appreciate now, why horror-anthology readers were quick to give this book one or two star at best over at Amazon; it’s not what I’d call a “horror anthology” nor is there much in the way of suspense, but the marketing and the title itself suggests otherwise. This book is more a ‘weird tales with interesting characters’. I get it - the editor was obviously going for the same readers that made Hitchcock suspense anthologies so popular...but most of the stories here lack that suspensful punch. A few of the stories do stand out: Newman’s zombie tale Amerikanski Dead at the Moscow Morgue, Carol-Oates The Ruins of Contracoeur, Gaiman’s Keepsakes and Treasures, and King’s ode to the Night Gallery tale about the painting that stalks…The Road Virus Heads North. The standouts for me: Disch’s The Owl and the Pussycat, Wilson’s Good Friday, and Williamson’s Records of the New Zodiac… I gave up reading once I hit Lustbader’s story. I skipped to the next and found that lacking as well. >_< I think I’ll try and get the rest of these read but at this point, I can’t give it anything higher than a two-star. Poorly marketed and converted (this book is loaded with common digital conversion errors that appear to be spelling errors to the untrained eye), and overreach on the editor’s part (I don’t need to read the editors thoughts at the beginning and end, and before every story.) This is a book that, if priced at $5 or less might earn it an extra star, but sadly the publisher sets the price—the same publisher that aimed for an audience familiar with the authors involved--but failed to deliver what that audience actually desires to read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    H. Anne Stoj

    Over all, a really fantastic collection of short stories. While the collection is over a decade old, I was pleased to find that I hadn't read anything in it before. (Or, if I had, I don't remember and thus it was new again.) My favorite, I think, was Joyce Carol Oates. I'm not recalling the title, but the language is still haunting me (forgive the pun), which always means a very strong story to me. Mad Dog Summer, now it's the author I'm forgetting, was also really memorable as it felt a bit lik Over all, a really fantastic collection of short stories. While the collection is over a decade old, I was pleased to find that I hadn't read anything in it before. (Or, if I had, I don't remember and thus it was new again.) My favorite, I think, was Joyce Carol Oates. I'm not recalling the title, but the language is still haunting me (forgive the pun), which always means a very strong story to me. Mad Dog Summer, now it's the author I'm forgetting, was also really memorable as it felt a bit like Harper Lee and Flannery O'Connor somehow; and while not a supernatural horror story, it was horror all the same. The story I liked least was William Peter Blatty's Elsewhere. I recently re-read the Exorcist and found it lacking. Elsewhere was, I suppose, predictable. Again, another annoying female character that just made me want to skip over any part where she appeared. It felt like a cheap version of Shirley Jackson's novel, Hell House, and The Others (yeah, that Nicole Kidman film). So, definitely worth reading for nearly every story. Just skip the last.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    To be fair, I haven't read the entire book; but, those few stories that I HAVE read over the years were enough for me to say that this is a good, if slightly uneven, anthology. Joyce Carol Oates' "The Ruins of Contracoeur" is a beautiful, disturbing, and über-mysterious piece, and Dennis L. McKiernan's "Darkness" is the kind of story that will leave you giggling...nervously. Naturally, Stephen King's story was fun and eerie, and F. Paul Wilson's "Good Friday" was a superb example of gritty, nast To be fair, I haven't read the entire book; but, those few stories that I HAVE read over the years were enough for me to say that this is a good, if slightly uneven, anthology. Joyce Carol Oates' "The Ruins of Contracoeur" is a beautiful, disturbing, and über-mysterious piece, and Dennis L. McKiernan's "Darkness" is the kind of story that will leave you giggling...nervously. Naturally, Stephen King's story was fun and eerie, and F. Paul Wilson's "Good Friday" was a superb example of gritty, nasty, and very, VERY unromantic vampires. Bentley Little's "The Theater," didn't make a whole lot of sense, and Al Sarrantonio's "The Ropy Thing" basically left me scratching my head afterwards. But all in all, this is a worthy investment for either author completists or newcomers alike. ...on second thought, let me emphasize: "The Ruins of Contracoeur," "Darkness," "Good Friday," and "The Road Virus Heads North" = solid gold.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becky Ippolito

    I'd have to say that the first half of the book was a bore to me. I don't rememember a single story from that part. The second half was much better with stories that kept me on my toes and anxious to pick up the book any chance I could. Notably stories I enjoyed were "The Grave" by P. D. Cacek, about a strange librarian who was a little too emmeshed with her mother and motherhood; "The Rio Grande Gothic" by David Morrell was an exciting story about a small town cop and the creept shoes he keeps I'd have to say that the first half of the book was a bore to me. I don't rememember a single story from that part. The second half was much better with stories that kept me on my toes and anxious to pick up the book any chance I could. Notably stories I enjoyed were "The Grave" by P. D. Cacek, about a strange librarian who was a little too emmeshed with her mother and motherhood; "The Rio Grande Gothic" by David Morrell was an exciting story about a small town cop and the creept shoes he keeps finding in the middle of the road; Rehearsals" by Thomas F. Monteleone, which was less creepy but stange in it's own way and about rewriting your own personal life play; and the4 haunted house story "Elsewhere" by William Peter Blatty was a more unqiue haunted house story and not one you would easily find anywhere else. A good attempt at a compilation, just wish I wasn't so bored in the beginning.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Badly Drawn Girl

    Impressive collection! I'm quite fond of short stories and I'm a recovering horror addict. I cut my teeth on the stuff. The very first book I ever bought was The Shining... I was 8. I found it at a library closeout sale for a dime. That was the start of something wonderfully awful. But as I got older I lost my passion for the genre, or maybe I wasn't reading the right stuff, but either way, horror and I parted ways. But I had heard good things about this collection so I gave it a shot. There is Impressive collection! I'm quite fond of short stories and I'm a recovering horror addict. I cut my teeth on the stuff. The very first book I ever bought was The Shining... I was 8. I found it at a library closeout sale for a dime. That was the start of something wonderfully awful. But as I got older I lost my passion for the genre, or maybe I wasn't reading the right stuff, but either way, horror and I parted ways. But I had heard good things about this collection so I gave it a shot. There is enough diversity in these stories to please most anyone. And there is a lot of wild imaginations romping all over the pages. I had a lot of fun, and some frights, while reading it. I recommend it highly for fans of short fiction, and fans of the horror genre. There is something here for everyone to "sink their teeth into..." pun intended

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Okay. I didn't read (and probably never WILL read) this book, but I just finished playing through Zero Escape: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors, which is a video game, BUT the iOS version is a sort of choose-your-own-adventure "visual novel", and given how long it took me to finally get through all possible endings, I wanted to count it toward my reading challenge. So here we are. ZE999 was...interesting. It's the story of 9 people trapped on a boat with 9 hours to solve all the puzzles that will ena Okay. I didn't read (and probably never WILL read) this book, but I just finished playing through Zero Escape: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors, which is a video game, BUT the iOS version is a sort of choose-your-own-adventure "visual novel", and given how long it took me to finally get through all possible endings, I wanted to count it toward my reading challenge. So here we are. ZE999 was...interesting. It's the story of 9 people trapped on a boat with 9 hours to solve all the puzzles that will enable them to get through 9 doors before the boat sinks. Turns out there's a sort of telepathic time travel thing at play and it's WEIRD but good? The interface was sort of annoying but the story was good. Recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Linda Appelbaum

    This book offers 29 original stories sure to disturb your sleep if you read just before bedtime. The stories will scare, disturb, horrify, and give you the willies. If you enjoy scary, suspenseful, chilling horror stories you will certainly get caught up in this book. Keep the lights on brightly when reading because the shadows hold unknown creepy things that might getcha!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Only 2 gems, the story by Neil Gaimen is worth the whole book

  26. 4 out of 5

    J.D. Heskin

    Lewd, rapey, and written to appeal to child molesters. I wish I could unread it!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan'l Danehy-oakes

    Well, this is certainly ... large. A quarter of a million words or so of new horror fiction, or at least it was new in 1999 when it was published, by most of the top writers in the genre at the time, plus some relative noobs ... though I note the absence of a few important names, and the mix slants heavily white-male. There isn't an unreadably bad story in the bunch. There was only one that had me squirming, not by how bad it was but by how intense it was. I've discovered a couple of new writers Well, this is certainly ... large. A quarter of a million words or so of new horror fiction, or at least it was new in 1999 when it was published, by most of the top writers in the genre at the time, plus some relative noobs ... though I note the absence of a few important names, and the mix slants heavily white-male. There isn't an unreadably bad story in the bunch. There was only one that had me squirming, not by how bad it was but by how intense it was. I've discovered a couple of new writers for my list. There are far too many stories to comment on one-by-one, but a few stand out one way or another... --> Joyce Carol Oates's "The Ruins of Contracoeur" is a story that I shall have to reread because I'm pretty sure I didn't get it the first time through. It's a "family in a weird old house" story, but everything is just a little off kilter (even for that sort of story), and I'm sure I missed the main point somewhere in there. (Actually, there are a lot of "bad place" stories in here.) --> Thomas M. Disch's "The Owl and the Pussycat" is pure Thomas M. Disch (may he rest in peace). The owl and pussycat in question are sentient stuffed toys, and the horror happens around them. Sort of. --> Chet Williamson's "Excerpts from the Rcords of the New Zodiac and the Diaries of Henry Watson Fairfax" is the one that made me squirm. It's a political-economic satire. I think. --> Al Sarrantonio's "The Ropy Thing" creeped me out pretty good also. It's Lovecraftian, except it isn't. --> Gene Wolfe's "The Tree Is My Hat" is one of the two best stories in the book. It gave me goosepimples, and I've read it before. In fact, having read it before is a big part of why it gave me goosepimples. A lot of Wolfe is in the rereading. --> Joe R. Lansdale (hisownself)'s "Mad Dog Summer" is a perfect Stephen King story, if King were a Southerner. In fact, it's a lot like _To Kill a Mockingbird_ on serious drugs. --> And William Peter Blatty's _Elsewhere_ is a short novel about a haunted house. Or maybe it isn't about a haunted house. It's certainly about a house and a haunting. It has a twist, and I kind of anticipated the twist; its actual twist is kind of like the one I anticipated, only very satisfyingly different.

  28. 4 out of 5

    The rockabilly werewolf from Mars .

    The stories here are very mixed in quality. For every good story (Mad Dog Summer, The Ruins Of Contracouer, The Entertainment), you get something boring like ICU or Good Friday. It is worth noting that I have very specific tastes when it comes to horror, which are often contrary to the more popular views on the subject; for example, I find splatterpunk boring (with the exception of Joe Lansdale), but M. R. James to be absolutely thrilling. Some notes on the stories: Americanski Dead At The Mosco The stories here are very mixed in quality. For every good story (Mad Dog Summer, The Ruins Of Contracouer, The Entertainment), you get something boring like ICU or Good Friday. It is worth noting that I have very specific tastes when it comes to horror, which are often contrary to the more popular views on the subject; for example, I find splatterpunk boring (with the exception of Joe Lansdale), but M. R. James to be absolutely thrilling. Some notes on the stories: Americanski Dead At The Moscow Morgue A zombie story set in Russia. I'm tired of zombie stories, but I enjoyed this one, probably because I'm already a fan of the author. The Ruins Of Contracouer After a scandal, a family moves to a remote house where strange events involving a faceless man begin to occur. Very atmospheric, but I couldn't really sympathize with the characters. Still a good story, though. The Owl And The Pussycat A dark domestic drama told from the point of view of the titular pair of toys. The Road Virus Heads North An author buys a painting at a garage sale, and strange things begin happening. Quite good, and has one of my favourite character descriptions in any story I've read (the description of the woman at the garage sale as looking like "some grotesque John Waters parody" and "Divine doing Shirley Temple"). Keepsakes And Treasures A man is hired by a shady character to find something for him. I'm generally a fan of Gaiman's work, but this is one of the few stories by him that I haven't enjoyed. Growing Things A couple are troubled by something growing in the floor of their house. Interesting, but perhaps too oblique for its own good. Good Friday Some nuns fight vampires. This sort of action-oriented story is exactly the opposite of what I want when I read horror. It might make a mildly amusing B-movie, but as a short story it doesn't work at all. Excerpts From The Records Of The New Zodiac... An exclusive supper club turns to cannibalism. Itinerary I am not exactly sure what this one was about. Something about a recurring nightmare, and odd telephone calls, and possible time travel. The description of the nightmare was neat, though.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    3.5 stars! Honestly, this rating is so high because of the quality of like, 2, of the stories. But they’ve stuck in my mind the entire time, which tells you something! Out of this book, I think the most worth reading were: 1) Rio Grande Gothic - so enticing and the most realistic story in this anthology, which is my favorite kind of horror 2) Mad Dog Summer - you can tell I have a type, which again is realistic horror. This is such a great story with a nice twist. Beware if you don’t like stories w 3.5 stars! Honestly, this rating is so high because of the quality of like, 2, of the stories. But they’ve stuck in my mind the entire time, which tells you something! Out of this book, I think the most worth reading were: 1) Rio Grande Gothic - so enticing and the most realistic story in this anthology, which is my favorite kind of horror 2) Mad Dog Summer - you can tell I have a type, which again is realistic horror. This is such a great story with a nice twist. Beware if you don’t like stories where an animal dies (I hate this unnecessary evil, but was able to look past it somehow in this story). 3) Catfish Gal Blues - unique and interesting 4) The Owl and the Pussycat - awesome twist and super unique 5) Good Friday - baaaaadass ending! 6) The Ruins of Contracoeur - very Haunting of Hill House vibes 7) Hemophage - a nice unique vampire story! Most of the others are worth a read, but I wouldn’t read them again. Overall, a very good anthology!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I'm not much of a horror fan, but I'm a huge fan of King and Gaiman, which is the only reason I picked this book up. It ended up being an excellent anthology. The strongest stories in my opinion: "The Road Virus Heads North" "Keepsakes and Treasures" "Good Friday" "The Entertainment" (possibly my favorite from the anthology) "Catfish Gal Blues" "The Shadow, The Darkness" "The Tree is my Hat" (wait, changed my mind - this was my favorite) "Mad Dog Summer" (wait, wait - THIS was definitely my favorite) H I'm not much of a horror fan, but I'm a huge fan of King and Gaiman, which is the only reason I picked this book up. It ended up being an excellent anthology. The strongest stories in my opinion: "The Road Virus Heads North" "Keepsakes and Treasures" "Good Friday" "The Entertainment" (possibly my favorite from the anthology) "Catfish Gal Blues" "The Shadow, The Darkness" "The Tree is my Hat" (wait, changed my mind - this was my favorite) "Mad Dog Summer" (wait, wait - THIS was definitely my favorite) Honourable mention: "The Theater", which was all kinds of messed up and left me more than a little disturbed.

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