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The Best Horror of the Year Volume One

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An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they a An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they anticipated; residents of a rural Wisconsin town defend against a legendary monster; a woman wracked by survivor's guilt is haunted by the ghosts of a tragic crash; a detective strives to solve the mystery of a dismembered girl; an orphan returns to a wicked witch's candy house; a group of smugglers find themselves buried to the necks in sand; an unanticipated guest brings doom to a high-class party; a teacher attempts to lead his students to safety as the world comes to an end around them... 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 is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the twenty-one stories and poems included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. Legendary editor Ellen Datlow (Poe: New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe), winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, joins Night Shade Books in presenting The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One.


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An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they a An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they anticipated; residents of a rural Wisconsin town defend against a legendary monster; a woman wracked by survivor's guilt is haunted by the ghosts of a tragic crash; a detective strives to solve the mystery of a dismembered girl; an orphan returns to a wicked witch's candy house; a group of smugglers find themselves buried to the necks in sand; an unanticipated guest brings doom to a high-class party; a teacher attempts to lead his students to safety as the world comes to an end around them... 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 is tightened. Ellen Datlow knows what scares us; the twenty-one stories and poems included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. Legendary editor Ellen Datlow (Poe: New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe), winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, joins Night Shade Books in presenting The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One.

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year Volume One

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    To be perfectly blunt, if this was a selection of the best horror of the year 2008, either I must have missed something or horror writing was at an ebb that year. Out of 21 stories, there were three that were relatively creepy, and out of those, I'd already read one. To be sure, I know that anthologies are pretty iffy, but in the world of hit or miss, this book takes the prize for most misses. I hate being so negative, but jeez -- there's just no other way to say it. The tale I liked To be perfectly blunt, if this was a selection of the best horror of the year 2008, either I must have missed something or horror writing was at an ebb that year. Out of 21 stories, there were three that were relatively creepy, and out of those, I'd already read one. To be sure, I know that anthologies are pretty iffy, but in the world of hit or miss, this book takes the prize for most misses. I hate being so negative, but jeez -- there's just no other way to say it. The tale I liked the best was "The Lagerstätte," by Laird Barron, which I read a couple of months back in his most exquisite horror collection Occultation. Moving on to number two is "The Hodag" by Trent Hergenrader, a creepy little story set in the woods of northern Wisconsin. The third entry is "Loup-garou," by R.B. Russell, about a man whose world changes after viewing a film called Loup-garou. It's not so much a story of hair-raising terror, but it was unsettling enough at the end that I had to read it twice. I'd also like to mention "Beach Head," by Daniel Le Moal. There is a line at which horror becomes no longer fun for me -- and this story crossed it. In the strictest sense of the word, I was indeed horrified, but this one went well beyond my comfort zone and actually kept me awake all night. Three smugglers wake up one day to find themselves buried up to their heads in sand on a beach somewhere. After thinking over their situation and how they must have ended up there, things proceed to go from very bad to the worst possible scenario ever. I give much credit to the writer: the images his writing conjured were extremely vivid, but downright depressing and I hope to god I never see another story like this one again. I won't deny that the story was very well written, but there are just some things I don't want to see in my head. I've got Best Horror of the Year volumes 2 (2009) and 3 (2010) sitting here, so I hope the quality of writing picked up after 2008. There is a bonus in Volume 1 that I haven't yet mentioned: the editor has put together a 33-page "Summation" of the horror writing of the year, including "Notable Novels," "Anthologies," "Mixed-Genre Anthologies," etc., offering a wide selection of stories and books for future reading. This is probably my least favorite anthology of my horror-reading experience, but I suppose horror, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Ugh. Why is it so difficult to find a GREAT horror anthology? They always seem to be mediocre, and this was no different. Decent, okayish stories for the most part, a couple that were actually enjoyable, but overall, not wowed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    Another great anthology of short horror stories.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    It's hard sometimes settling on a star rating for anthologies. They're notoriously a mixed bag for obvious reasons. And generally I'm ride or die for Ellen Datlow's editing but she puts out SO MANY that not every one can knock it out of the park. This was unfortunately that sort for me -- there were a few gems but many more that I felt ambivalent about. Penguins of the Apocalypse was by far my favorite. 2.5*

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    The problem with most horror anthologies, including this one, is the loose, free and easy application of the term “horror” to what ultimately ends up in the table of contents. In my strange world (it’s okay, they know me there), red meat, arteries bustin’ wide open, grey matter going up in flame, and writing that attacks the beast and gets in and gets out without carrying any excess baggage – in other words, something that actually repulses, horrifies, or even causes your gorge to ris The problem with most horror anthologies, including this one, is the loose, free and easy application of the term “horror” to what ultimately ends up in the table of contents. In my strange world (it’s okay, they know me there), red meat, arteries bustin’ wide open, grey matter going up in flame, and writing that attacks the beast and gets in and gets out without carrying any excess baggage – in other words, something that actually repulses, horrifies, or even causes your gorge to rise - goes a lot further than meandering often incomprehensible plot lines about ghosts, spirits, dreams or alternate dimensions/realities that you actually have to think about and devoid of any actual payoff. Unfortunately, there’s more of the latter here than the former. I threw up my hands halfway through. Your results may vary.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    Indie outfit Night Shade Books swooped to the rescue after bigger publisher St. Martin's scuttled Ellen Datlow's long-running annual anthology of the best horror fiction. Although it's good to have the venerable editor still at work culling the good stuff, the inaugural volume of this series reboot is wobbly on its newborn feet. It's not that the stories are particularly objectionable. But for the most part, they're not exceptional either. What makes them the "best" horror of 2008? They're not s Indie outfit Night Shade Books swooped to the rescue after bigger publisher St. Martin's scuttled Ellen Datlow's long-running annual anthology of the best horror fiction. Although it's good to have the venerable editor still at work culling the good stuff, the inaugural volume of this series reboot is wobbly on its newborn feet. It's not that the stories are particularly objectionable. But for the most part, they're not exceptional either. What makes them the "best" horror of 2008? They're not scary or unsettling. They're not thought-provoking. They don't push boundaries. They don't even go for the easy grossout. I suppose "Adequate Horror of the Year" wouldn't sell very well, but it would be a more accurate title. Datlow starts the book with her traditional summary of the previous year. Kudos to her for doing it with far less whining and far fewer typos than her fellow editor Gardner Dozois in his science fiction "best of" annuals. The Table of Contents features a list of mostly unfamiliar names. The most prominent participant is probably Joe Lansdale who turns in a two-page scrap, a piffle, likely one of his "popcorn dreams" (Lansdale transcribes the nightmares he always has after eating popcorn). Even among that goofy company, "It Washed Up" is lightweight, and I suspect it was included more for marquee value than merit. Among the rest of the crew: Richard Bowes writes his standard dreary story of how gay and haunted he is. Steve Duffy's "The Clay Party" adds a few twists to that wheezy cliche of the predator stalking the helpless woman only to find out in the shocking twist ending that she's really a vampire/werewolf/insert theme-anthology monster here. And guess what? It's still a wheezy cliche. William Browning Spencer's "Penguins of the Apocalypse," about an alcoholic wrestling with literal demons, is one of the two stories that could legitimately lay claim to the title "best of the year." I wish Browning was as prolific as his fellow Texas raconteur Lansdale. His stories are frequently funny but carry a poisonous sting in the tail. He writes sentences like Tom Waits writes lyrics: "This wasn't a Saturday-night kind of bar. This was more the sort of bar you went to because you had gone to it the day before." E. Michael Lewis, Trent Hergenrader and Adam Golaski turn in the kind of solid B-horror that Leisure should be publishing more of instead of printing glorified fan fiction. Glen Hirshberg is one of the overrated new voices in the genre. He's written some good stories (and some better than good), but he has a stylistic quirk that absolutely bugs the hell out of me, and I'm surprised no editor has called him on this: the weeping. His characters bust out weeping at the slightest provocation. They weep and they weep and they weep and they weep. "Weep" must be Hirshberg's favorite word in the dictionary. "But Will, it seems, just wants to weep some more." Well, of course he does: He's a character in a Glen Hirshberg story. I swear, the pages were soggy. Ever since I stumbled across Laird Barron's "Hallucigenia" a few years back, I've been on the lookout for more work by this amazingly assured newcomer. That novella accomplished two incredibly difficult feats: It did something new with well-used Lovecraftian tropes, and it gave me a serious case of the willies. Barron's entry here, "The Lagerstatte," about grief and ghosts, isn't as effective as "Hallucigenia," but it showcases the author's potential to become one of the most important new talents in horror and suspense since the Dell Abyss days introduced Kathe Koja and Brian Hodge. Daniel LeMoal shows promise, Margo Lanagan gives good gore, and Graham Edwards' "Girl in Pieces" is memorable for all the WRONG reasons. So that's a total of two outstanding stories rising to the top of a sea of so-so. I won't make any silly declarations about horror being dead as a genre coz these things go in cycles (I hope), but 2008 apparently was not the year for it to shamble out of the crypt where it's been snoozing. And what's the deal with the naked zombie on the book cover, waving his tweeter at you? Nobody likes to see that.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Moody

    It's important to start with what this volume is not. It's not a collection of a particular type of horror story; Datlow's taste, while tending toward the subtle over the blatant, is wide-ranging, and includes stories traditional and modern (to the extent that these labels are useful), long and short, serious and comic. Some are closer to dark fantasy than "horror" as some readers define it. This book is also not necessarily cued to your specific tastes. the editor has not magically reached into It's important to start with what this volume is not. It's not a collection of a particular type of horror story; Datlow's taste, while tending toward the subtle over the blatant, is wide-ranging, and includes stories traditional and modern (to the extent that these labels are useful), long and short, serious and comic. Some are closer to dark fantasy than "horror" as some readers define it. This book is also not necessarily cued to your specific tastes. the editor has not magically reached into your head and selected nineteen stories and two poems that you are guaranteed to love. Cover copy notwithstanding, Ellen Datlow does not know what scares you personally. To say that a book is "not for everyone" is often a form of back-handed criticism, but here it's just a fact. With that out of the way, I can say what this book is: a collection of fine stories displaying the scope of the modern horror story. I can't say that I unreservedly admired all of the stories here, but I respected each one's craft. A new anthology edited by Datlow is a guaranteed purchase for me, and the reason I keep coming back is that I never find a story whose appeal utterly baffles me. Sometimes I don't find them as successful as they might be, but I never think "What the heck was ~that~ doing in this book?" I'll highlight a few stories I particularly admired. Margaret Ronald's "When the Gentlemen Go By" is a brief, chilling story about a small town and the price it pays for its happiness. Again, traditional-sounding stuff, but the story's structure allows it to build to maximum effect, and there are a number of chilling moments along the way. It's also an interesting contrast with "The Hodag," a very different but equally effective small-town horror story elsewhere in the volume. "The Rising River," by Daniel Kaysen, is a sharply-styled, twisty little story about a girl who can talk to ghosts, or can she? Graham Edwards' "Girl in Pieces" is a mystery/science fiction/fantasy/horror hybrid. It's also a comedy. It sounds too busy to work, but in fact the noir-derived prose style makes it all fit together nicely. In addition to the stories and poems, the volume also includes Datlow's summation of the year in horror publishing, an eminently useful list of novels, collections, anthologies, magazines, and other outlets for horror prose. With a genre that's so dependent on small presses, this essay is a much-needed annual resource for finding works you may have missed. This is the kind of book you might want to look over before buying if you're not familiar with the editor's taste. Horror is (and should be) a broad church, so it's worth looking at some of the stories, and the editor's recommendations of other books in the summation, to get a sense of whether it's right for you. If it is, you're in for some excellent tales.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Neal

    There's a thin line between portraying something mysteriously horrific and writing so vaguely that a reader doesn't know what the hell you're saying. Most of the authors in this anthology trip over that line so hard that this should be an America's Funniest Home Videos montage, not a Best Horror anthology. Having said that, I quite liked: The Hodag Loup-Garou It Washed Up The Narrows

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ross Lockhart

    Read in manuscript. A solid collection of terrifying tales, collecting the best short stories and fiction published in 2008. High points include E. Michael Lewis's "Cargo," William Browning Spencer's "Penguins of the Apocalypse," Laird Barron's "The Lagerstatte," Adam Golaski's "The Man From the Peak," and Simon Bestwick's "The Narrows."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Overall a below average anthology that unfortunately does not do its name any justice. If it wasn't for the fine entries by Laird Barron and William Spencer Browning this anthology would not be worth mentioning at all. Either 2008 was a extremely bad year for horror fiction (even though I remember it quite differently) or the the normally impeccable Ellen Datlow had a bad day (or rather a bad year) when chosing this sea of mediocrity as the year's best horror. But enough of my lengthy ramblings, Overall a below average anthology that unfortunately does not do its name any justice. If it wasn't for the fine entries by Laird Barron and William Spencer Browning this anthology would not be worth mentioning at all. Either 2008 was a extremely bad year for horror fiction (even though I remember it quite differently) or the the normally impeccable Ellen Datlow had a bad day (or rather a bad year) when chosing this sea of mediocrity as the year's best horror. But enough of my lengthy ramblings, let's dive right into my notes on the stories included: ** Cargo by E. Michael Lewis Though using the incident at Guyana as a backdrop makes for an interesting premise, Lewis makes nothing out of it and bores the reader with a generic ghost story that basically goes nowhere in the end. What a terrifyingly weak opener for a collection that claims to be the best horror fiction of the year 2008. ** If Angels Fight by Richaed Bowes Another letdown. Confusingly written the story is all over the place with no story arc, no building up of suspense or whatsoever and finally leads to an unsatisfying ending. You are constantly getting the feeling that the author is trying to pull off something smart in terms of storybuilding but whatever it is, it simply doesn't work. Jeez, I could easily name half a dozen horror shorts from 2008 that would have deserved the slots of the first two stinkers in this collection. Good thing is: It can probably only get better from here on out...at least I hope so. *** The Clay Party by Steve Duffy Decent diary-style tale set in the old west. Duffy builds up suspense very nicely but then delivers a rather foreseeable climax that seasoned horror readers will see coming from miles ahead. Even the unexpected little twist in the end cannot bring the story fully back on track. Mildly entertaining, but nothing to write home about either (or include in a year's best of collection for that matter...). ***** Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Spencer There you go, finally something truly worthwhile. "Penguins..." is a highly original, dark-humored and twisted tale about alcoholism and the ghosts it calls up. In the literal sense of the word. Brilliant! *** Esmeralda: The First Book Depository Story by Glen Hirshberg Hirshber creates an intriguing imagery of a decaying world but unfortunately doesn't manage to bring the story to a satisfying close and leaves the reader with a rather vacuous and generic ending that does in no way do justice to the tension created beforehand. Bummer as Hirshberg sure as hell got talent. ** The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader Generic tale of monster folklore that does pretty much nothing for me. Only thing remarkable about this is the author's solid writing that unfortunately can't help the thin story. * Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle Really, that's your story - that's all there is? And with that you made into a year's best of? Seriously? Oh my... *** When The Gentlemen Go By by Margaret Ronald The story of a town in league with dark forces demanding regular sacrifices from the townspeople is a setup that has been done to the death in horror firction and this does not add anything particularly interesting to the canon. At least Ronald keeps it short and sweet with good writing and delivers an interesting imagery for the entities demanding sacrifice. Enjoyable at this short length but again nothing to write home about. ***** The Lagerstätte by Laird Barron Bam! And in comes Laird Barron showing everybody how it's done. In fact Barron's writing is so vastly superior that the story sticks out like a sore thumb in this sea of mediocrity and banality that this collection has been so far (except for Spencer's story). A twisted descent into madness and paranoia, garnished with some wonderful imagery and prose. Another prime example why Barron is currently one of - if not the - best contemporary horror fiction writer(s). **** Harry And The Monkey by Euan Harvey An entertaining short story with a lot of wit. Nothing surprising, but very enjoyable in its light-heartedness and not-too-serious tone. *** Dress Circle by Miranda Siemienowicz Had quite some potential as a bizarre nightmare where reality is bend and the veil towards the weird and the dreaded is pulled away but unfortunately the ending fell flat and send all the build up atmosphere crashing down like a pierced balloon (or I simply did not get it - if someone did: please elaborate!). Bummer! *** The Rising River by Daniel Kaysen Solid piece that leaves you guessing even after the end what is real an what not. If that is enough to make it into a year's best of collection though... **** Loup-Garou by R.B. Russell Liked the mood this invoked. There is a subtle melancholic vibe to the story which I enjoyed as well as the cinematic references. Somehow it felt that there was something more brooding within the story that could have been fleshed out a little more to make it a real gem but nonetheless it is *** Girl in Pieces by Graham Edwards Started off strong by relentlessly throwing noir elements in a blender with urban fantasy, multiple dimensions and hebrew folklore but lost its way halfway through, turning into a standard modern Urban Fantasy tale topped of by a banal ending. Besides all that you might wanna raise the question what an Urban Fantasy story (okay, with a few minor horror elements) like this has to do with the year's best horror anyway? *** It Washed Up by Joe R. Lansdale The Pied Piper in a marine version with hints of Cthulhu mythos hovering above it all. Good for what it is, but in the end also fails to really excite the reader. **** The Thirteenth Hell by Mike Allen Very nice to also see some poetry included into this volume. This was great piece about crawling madness and the downward spiral towards insanity which while reading it reminded me quite a lot of Laird Barron in verse form (to whom - to my surprise - it also was dedicated in the end by the way). ** The Goosle by Mark Lanagan Rather pointless retelling of "Hänsel and Gretel" that tries way too hard to be edgy by adding rape, sex and gore into the mix. Yawn, next please! ** Beach Head by Daniel LeMoal Started off pretty interesting with a group of men awakening at a beach buried up to their necks in the sand while the tide is rising. So far so good, unfortunately the author does not make much of the possibilities that the setting offers and instead steers the story towards an ending that feels utterly incongruous and rushed. *** The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski Has a certain odor of mystery and noir about as it slowly turns violent. Nevertheless the last spark to ignite the fire was amiss even though I couldn't quite put a finger on what it was the story lacked. **** The Narrows by Simon Bestwick Sets a great tone and builds a believable scenario in its breathless style and feverish thought jumps in the beginning, tightening the screws further and further while things spiral out of control and the nightmare worsens, making it a placable ending for this collection.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    My favorite story was The Hodag, which was a perfect slice of Americana - isolated, violent, haunted, creepy Americana.

  12. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    Lots of brilliant stories--but enough meh that it gets a 4. A zombie does not a horror story make.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth Roberts

    I like anthologies the same way I like M&M's: they're chocolate so they're all good. They're small, so they don't require a major commitment, and all the different colors make them fun. And every now and then, you get one you swear just tastes better than the others. I still swear the tan ones were more chocolaty than the others but then they stopped making those, so that's another story. But anyway. . .I've read enough short fiction the last few years to start recogniz I like anthologies the same way I like M&M's: they're chocolate so they're all good. They're small, so they don't require a major commitment, and all the different colors make them fun. And every now and then, you get one you swear just tastes better than the others. I still swear the tan ones were more chocolaty than the others but then they stopped making those, so that's another story. But anyway. . .I've read enough short fiction the last few years to start recognizing the authors that I seem to like better than the others. Don't get me wrong - the others aren't bad, they just weren't to my taste. Except for poetry - just not a fan. Poems in horror collections are like those deformed M&M's you come across, misshapen and hard. You may like those, for all I know. 1. "Cargo"/E. Michael Lewis -- 4 stars 2. "If Angels Fight"/Richard Bowes -- 5 stars 3. "The Clay Party"/Steve Duffy -- 5 stars 4. "Penguins of the Apocalypse"/William Browning Spencer -- 5 stars 5. "Esmeralda - The First Book Depository Story"/Glen Hirshberg -- 4 stars 6. "The Hodag/Trent Hergenrader --4 stars 7. "Very Low-Flying Aircraft"/Nicholas Doyle -- 2 stars 8. "When the Gentlemen Go By"/Margaret Ronald -- 5 stars 9. "The Lagerstatte"/Laird Barron -- 5 stars 10. "Harry and the Monkey"/Euan Harvey -- 5 stars 11. "Dress Circle"/Amanda Siemienowicz -- 2 stars 12. "The Rising River"/Daniel Kaysen -- 4.5 stars 13. "Sweeney Among the Straight Razors"/JoSelle Vanderhooft (poem) -- 1 star 14. "Loup-Garou"/R. B. Russell -- 1 star (totally didn't get it) 15. "Girl in Pieces"/Graham Edwards -- 3 stars 16. "It Washed Up"/Joe R. Lansdale -- 4 stars 17. "The Thirteenth Hell"/Mike Allen (poem) -- 2 stars 18. "The Goosle"/Margo Lanagan -- 4 stars 19. "Beach Head"/Daniel Le Moal -- 3.5 stars 20. "The Man from the Peak"/Adam Golaski --4 stars 21. "The Narrows"/Simon Bestwick -- 4 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pam Winkler

    This was a good collection. A lot of good pieces and a few fantastic ones. Cargo by E. Michael Lewis was good. If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes was interesting and good. The Clay Party by Steve Duffy was one I read earlier, it's a very good story. Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Spencer was outstandingly creepy. Esmeralda: the First Book Depository Story by Glen Hirshberg was good. The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader was also good. Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle is one This was a good collection. A lot of good pieces and a few fantastic ones. Cargo by E. Michael Lewis was good. If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes was interesting and good. The Clay Party by Steve Duffy was one I read earlier, it's a very good story. Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Spencer was outstandingly creepy. Esmeralda: the First Book Depository Story by Glen Hirshberg was good. The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader was also good. Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle is one I've read before. It didn't do much for me the first time. When the Gentlemen Go By by Margaret Ronald was absolutely beautiful. The Lagerstätte by Laird Barron didn't really stick with me. Harry and the Monkey by Euan Harvey was beautifully shivery and wonderful. Dress Circle by Miranda Siemienowicz was ok? I don't think I got it. The Rising River by Daniel Kaysen was good. Sweeney Among the Straight Razors by JoSelle Vanderhooft was a poem and I guess it's ok? Loup-Garou by R.B. Russell was good. Girl in Pieces by Graham Edwards was not what I expected at all, and I won't call it horror. It was urban fantasy. It was good though. It Washed Up by Joe R. Lansdale was very short. The Thirteenth Hell by Mike Allen was another poem. It was good. The Goosle by Margo Lanagan was probably good but I didn't like it. Beach Head by Daniel LeMoal was good and brutal. The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski was good. The Narrows by Simon Bestwick was good, although I didn't like the ending too much.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Јордан Коцевски

    I would've rate this anthology 3.5 if possible instead of 4 starts. What bothered me most was the fact that there are some really good story whose effect and pleasent experienced is lost because of the mediocre and bed stories. there are some stories that I wouldn't put in the genre of horror, some predictive ones, some that have nice way of building tension but don't deliver at the end. I wouldn't call this the best horror stories. On the other side that are stories so we'll paced and intriguin I would've rate this anthology 3.5 if possible instead of 4 starts. What bothered me most was the fact that there are some really good story whose effect and pleasent experienced is lost because of the mediocre and bed stories. there are some stories that I wouldn't put in the genre of horror, some predictive ones, some that have nice way of building tension but don't deliver at the end. I wouldn't call this the best horror stories. On the other side that are stories so we'll paced and intriguing that will stick with you. My favorite was Beach head.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Overall strong collection with high quality writing. The beginning half of this collection is fine and contains a mix of weak and strong stories. The concluding half is very strong. “Very Low Flying Aircraft” is the weakest of the lot and essentially functions as an accident report. Generally horror stemming from realistic events is effective for me but this story fell flat. “Harry and the Monkey” is great. It’s always nice to see the bad guys get their comeuppance and the vindicator Overall strong collection with high quality writing. The beginning half of this collection is fine and contains a mix of weak and strong stories. The concluding half is very strong. “Very Low Flying Aircraft” is the weakest of the lot and essentially functions as an accident report. Generally horror stemming from realistic events is effective for me but this story fell flat. “Harry and the Monkey” is great. It’s always nice to see the bad guys get their comeuppance and the vindicator in this tale comes with a demand for respect and a creepy presence. “Girl in Pieces” works as a Pratchettesque take on noir-horror-detective fiction and has a humorous feel as well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scorpio-of-Autumn

    Some stories are phenomenal, one was unnecessarily disgusting and involved child rape (that certainly lowered my score), but the finale story was my absolute favorite! Overall, nothing stunning or actually scary (save for the last story), but a nice way to pass the time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Violet Laflamme

    DNF - the stories were not engaging and not really what I'd qualify as horror save for one. I won't give it one star just in case the later stories turned out to be better, but my reading list is too long to press on with something I'm not loving.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Troy

    Nice mix of stories My favs were the final story The Narrows and one set in Thailand Harry and the Monkey. This anthology is highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Patrick

    This anthology wasn't for me. High quality stories to be sure, but they focused too much on the fantastical. I just couldn't get into the vast majority of stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Wright

    this was very hit or miss, some stories were amazing and some were so awful

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    A mixed bag. My personal favorites were If Angels Fight, Harry and the Monkey, and The Narrows.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia Garcia

    My Rating ★★★ 1/2 Datlow draws upon the many sources of the horror to find the best collection of horrific, spine-tingling, and grotesque short stories of the year. The stories range from the obviously gore-filled to the more subtle tales of dark fantasy. Cargo, E. Michael Lewis - ★★★ Davis, a cargo-hold tech, is sent out to retrieve a most precious cargo - human bodies. Hoping it stays a routine pick-up, he is surprised to find that it won't be a quiet ride home. If Angels Fight My Rating ★★★ 1/2 Datlow draws upon the many sources of the horror to find the best collection of horrific, spine-tingling, and grotesque short stories of the year. The stories range from the obviously gore-filled to the more subtle tales of dark fantasy. Cargo, E. Michael Lewis - ★★★ Davis, a cargo-hold tech, is sent out to retrieve a most precious cargo - human bodies. Hoping it stays a routine pick-up, he is surprised to find that it won't be a quiet ride home. If Angels Fight, Richard Bowes - ★★★ Told through the voice of a friend to a family of politicians, Bowes strays away from your typical horror themes to create a striking tale of magic, realized or subtle, within a prominent Irish family. The Clay Party, Steve Duffy - ★★★★★ A dark story of struggle and love told through the eyes of a caravan of California-bound settlers. When things seem to be the at their most impossible, a mother's love will grow to it's strongest. Penguins of the Apocalypse, William Browning Spencer - ★★★★★ Very interesting story about the lengths in which we'll fall before we choose to pick ourselves up. An alcoholic named Sam meets an interesting stranger while in the deeps of his depression. Esmeralda, Glen Hirshberg - ★★ In a future where books are stockpiled and left to rot, Crawlers perused the warehouses of discarded books. Esmeralda possessed demons she couldn't fend off in the warehouses. The Hodag, Trent Hergenrader - ★★★★★ A Wisconsin demon is hidden among the trees and interrupts the quiet of a small logging town. The memories of the bloodshed aren't easily forgotten by some of the local boys. Very Low-Flying Aircraft, Nicholas Royle - ★★ Young soldiers have innocent fun flying their planes too low. But flying too low can mean tragic, unforeseen ends. When the Gentlemen Go By, Margaret Ronald - ★★★ Laura remembers her mother speaking about a "bad air" that hangs in the Hollow. Now a mother herself, Laura must make a dark deal to protect her own. The Lagerstatte, Laird Barron - ★★★ Danni deals with the tragic death of both her husband and son by retreating into herself and letting her demons control her perceptions. As she seeks treatment, she is faced with dangerous visions. Harry and the Monkey, Euan Harvey - ★★★★ A father makes up a monkey for his young son to enjoy, but what happens when the son really starts to see it? Is it dangerous? Dress Circle, Miranda Siemienowicz - ★★★★ Laura's ticket says "the dress circle" which means she is privy to a backstage tour of horror that puts her too close to center stage. The Rising River, Daniel Kaysen - ★★★★★ When she receives a call from her brother, Amy knows it's time that she confronts the childhood tragedy she's witnessed. Sweeney among the Straight Razors, JoSelle Vanderhooft - ★★★ A short poem about everyone's favorite Barber of Fleet Street. Loup-garou, R. B. Russell - ★★★★★ Deeply interesting look at a man and his fascination with an independent French film. The film displays particulars about his life and he draws connections with the film and his life that are both curious and frightening. Girl in Pieces, Graham Edwards - ★★ A dark crime fantasy story that begins when a golem dumps a girl in pieces onto the rug of a Private Investigator's office. The golem swears he didn't do it and the only way to find out the truth is to put the girl back together, which is harder than you think. It Washed Up, Joe R. Lansdale - ★★★★★ A very short story about a thing that washes up on the beach of a small town. The Goosle, Margo Lanagan - ★★ A shocking retelling of Hansel and Gretel wherein the witch is has a taste for more vicious, sexual, and murderous confinement. Beach Head, Daniel LeMoal - ★★★ Three smugglers find themselves tied and buried in sand up to their necks. The terror rises closer and faster than the tide in the form of unknown characters. The Man from the Peak, Adam Golaski - ★★★ A low key party is changed forever with the entrance of the man from the peak. He's strange, powerful, and no one can stop him. The Narrows, Simon Bestwick - ★★★★★ After an atom bomb hits America, two teachers save a handful of their students and take them underground for safety. Unbeknownst to them, they will face more terror in those depths than above ground.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bernd

    This book as a mixed bag for me. Many of the stories didn't really grip me, but as with many anthologies, there are some pearls in between. If you can grab this book in a sale, and you like horror, I recommend getting it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    After a bookstore shopping session, this was one of the books I was looking forward to reading, and it turned out it was an autographed copy. So, the anthology starts with a summation of 2008, which would be useful to look into to check out other reads in horror fiction. As for the stories: Cargo, E. Michael Lewis The opening story is about soldiers bringing back the dead after the incident in Jonestown. It was okay. 3 stars. If Angels Fight, Richard Bowes I just couldn After a bookstore shopping session, this was one of the books I was looking forward to reading, and it turned out it was an autographed copy. So, the anthology starts with a summation of 2008, which would be useful to look into to check out other reads in horror fiction. As for the stories: Cargo, E. Michael Lewis The opening story is about soldiers bringing back the dead after the incident in Jonestown. It was okay. 3 stars. If Angels Fight, Richard Bowes I just couldn't get into this one really. 1 star. The Clay Party, Steve Duffy A story of settlers travelling to California told through journal entries. It was interesting. 3 stars. Penguins of the Apocalypse, William Browning Spencer A story of a recovering alcoholic and his meeting with a mysterious man. This was one of my favorites in the anthology. 5 stars. Esmeralda, Glen Hirshberg Dystopian setting where books are stored in these depositories, and the protagonist recalls the death of his friend. It was okay. 2 stars. The Hodag, Trent Hergenrader I'm not one for monster stories, but this story of a town and the atrocities remembered by the local kids was interesting. 3 stars. Very Low-Flying Aircraft, Nicholas Royle The title tells it all. And it isn't a good idea to be flying that low. An okay story. 2 stars. When the Gentlemen Go By, Margaret Ronald The protagonist lives in the Hollow and like her mother before her must make a deal to protect those she loves. Interesting concept. 3 stars. The Lagerstatte, Laird Barron After losing her husband and son, the protagonist struggles with strange visions. 4 stars. Harry and the Monkey, Euan Harvey A story of a dad, his son, and an imaginary monkey. I liked the style of this story. 4 stars. Dress Circle, Miranda Siemienowicz A ticket to a play leads to the protagonist being center stage. 3 stars. The Rising River, Daniel Kaysen A story of confronting the past and its tragedies. Very engaging read. 4 stars. Sweeney among the Straight Razors, JoSelle Vanderhooft A Sweeney Todd poem, I know the story, but I don't read poetry so... Loup-garou, R. B. Russell A man sees an independent French film and draws parallels with it to his own life. This was one of my favorites in the anthology. 5 stars. Girl in Pieces, Graham Edwards A fantasy and crime story involving a girl in pieces, a detective and golems. Not bad. 3 stars. It Washed Up, Joe R. Lansdale Very short story of something that washed up ashore. Didn't really get it or enjoy it. 1 star. The Thirteenth Hell, Mike Allen Another poem. I'm not going to rate it. The Goosle, Margo Lanagan A Hansel and Gretel retelling, but very graphic. Not my kind of story. 2 stars. Beach Head, Daniel LeMoal Some criminals get stranded on an island and buried in the sand where a horror awaits them as they try to escape. Interesting idea. 3 stars. The Man From the Peak, Adam Golaski A man goes to a going away party for a friend, but there's a strange man no one recognizes there. This was one of my favorites. 5 stars. The Narrows, Simon Bestwick In the aftermath of an atomic bomb, three teachers and a handful of students flee underground, to what they discover are the narrows. This was one of the best in the anthology. 5 stars. Honorable mentions of other stories and an About the Authors section wrap up the book. Overall, a solid collection, with a mix of strong stories, but some weaker ones.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Bellamy

    As I write this, the Best Horror of the Year series edited by Ellen Datlow is on volume seven. I've read several of them, though out of order, and like most anthologies, the stories can be hit and miss. Datlow begins each volume with a 'summation' of the year which, though dense, is a treasure trove of other writings. This launching volume is a stronger one, lead by the astonishingly well written 'The Man From the Peak' by Adam Golaski. This story begins as one of the most well realized parties As I write this, the Best Horror of the Year series edited by Ellen Datlow is on volume seven. I've read several of them, though out of order, and like most anthologies, the stories can be hit and miss. Datlow begins each volume with a 'summation' of the year which, though dense, is a treasure trove of other writings. This launching volume is a stronger one, lead by the astonishingly well written 'The Man From the Peak' by Adam Golaski. This story begins as one of the most well realized parties I've ever read, so that when things go wrong, as they are wont to do in a collection of horror tales, I found myself really invested in the outcome. My wife, notoriously not a horror fan, read it at my urging and also loved it. A close runner up was 'The Goosle' by Margo Lanagan. The more of her I read the more impressed I am. I read this in Nightmare magazine first, so in this volume it was my second read. I plan on picking up some of her work. Note: the wife didn't like this one so much. Too disturbing. But she appreciated it (and then couldn't sleep for a few days... wakeful evening appreciation I imagine). While the Laird Barron and Simon Bestwick stories are good, they aren't as good as some of their others i've read. Though Bestwick's 'The Narrows' takes some very strange turns. 'Harry and the Monkey' by Euan Harvey is maybe over plotted, but its core idea crept me out. 'Loup-garou' by R.B. Russell and 'Beach Head' by Daniel LeMoal are realistically paranoid and super weird respectively and both solid. I should mention that there were three stories here that I genuinely disliked. There's always one or two 'meh's' in an anthology, but rarely do I run into three that have me questioning their inclusion. I assume it is simply a matter of taste in this case, Datlow has been doing this for awhile. Overall, I really liked this volume and this series in general and plan on continuing with the ones I haven't yet read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    DJ

    *** Cargo by E. Michael Lewis Not really scary but ok story * If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes Unreadable **** The Clay Party by Steve Duffy Gruesome story that could have actually happened **** Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning About a struggle many have in life ** Esmeralda by Glen Hirshberg The story could have been structured better *** The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader Folklore tale that was written in a unique way *** Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alison C

    For about 20 years now, one of my great pleasures of the year has been the publication of The Year's Best Horror and Fantasy, co-edited originally by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and more recently by Datlow and the team of Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. But last year this long-running anthology series came to an end, to my great dismay. It turns out, though, that Ellen Datlow has continued on in her chosen field as editor of horror anthologies, and The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One, is For about 20 years now, one of my great pleasures of the year has been the publication of The Year's Best Horror and Fantasy, co-edited originally by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and more recently by Datlow and the team of Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. But last year this long-running anthology series came to an end, to my great dismay. It turns out, though, that Ellen Datlow has continued on in her chosen field as editor of horror anthologies, and The Best Horror of the Year, Volume One, is the first of her new series. As with all such, there are stories I like more than others, stories other readers will like more than I did. I'll just mention a few: "Penguins of the Apocalypse" by William Browning Spencer is as funny as the title suggests, albeit in a gruesome alcoholic way; "The Narrows," by Simon Bestwick is almost as good as his brilliant "A Hazy Shade of Winter" from 2004, and that's saying a lot! And if Graham Edwards doesn't take the world he creates in "Girl in Pieces" (featuring Golems, the mythological Arachne and Pallas Athene Herself) and use it as the setting for a whole series of novels, I'm going to be seriously disappointed in him; I want way more of that world that this one private detective tale! You know your own level of squeamishness in reading, I'm just saying this is a good anthology of horror if you can stomach it. With that caveat, recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    A varied selection of short stories from satisfactory to good. Contents: Summation 2008 Cargo by E. Michael Lewis If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes The Clay Party by Steve Duffy Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Esmeralda by Glen Hirshberg The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle When the Gentlemen Go By by Margaret Ronald The Lagerstatte by Laird Barron Harry and the Monkey by Euan Harvey Dr A varied selection of short stories from satisfactory to good. Contents: Summation 2008 Cargo by E. Michael Lewis If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes The Clay Party by Steve Duffy Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Esmeralda by Glen Hirshberg The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle When the Gentlemen Go By by Margaret Ronald The Lagerstatte by Laird Barron Harry and the Monkey by Euan Harvey Dress Circle by Miranda Siemienowicz The Rising Rive r by Daniel Kaysen Sweeney among the Straight Razors by JoSelle Vanderhooft Loup-Garou by R. B. Russel Girl in Pieces by Graham Edwards It Washed Up by Joe R. Lansdale The Thirteenth Hell by Mike Allen The Goosle by Margo Lanagan Beach Head by Daniel LeMoal The Man From the Peak by Adam Golaski The Narrows by Simon Bestwick

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Munroe

    I wish there was a way to give this book 2 1/2 to signify my ambivalence with it. Neat ideas abound, and interesting things are done with horror tropes, but at no point was I really scared by this. And that's subjective, which I know, but I'm the one writing the review, so there it is. Interesting, but it didn't affect me, it reads like a series of fun intellectual exercises rather than horror stories. Which under any other title wouldn't be a problem, I loves me some cute literary ex I wish there was a way to give this book 2 1/2 to signify my ambivalence with it. Neat ideas abound, and interesting things are done with horror tropes, but at no point was I really scared by this. And that's subjective, which I know, but I'm the one writing the review, so there it is. Interesting, but it didn't affect me, it reads like a series of fun intellectual exercises rather than horror stories. Which under any other title wouldn't be a problem, I loves me some cute literary exercises! However, I went into this expecting to be scared. I'm not expressing my opinion on this well, and that's part of the problem, it didn't awaken strong opinions within me. May've liked it better in a different mood, but as it was read it didn't quite get there for me...

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