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The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Two

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Celebrities take refuge in a white-walled mansion as plague and fever sweep into Cannes; a killer finds that the living dead have no appetite for him; a television presenter stumbles upon the chilling connection between a forgotten animal act and the Whitechapel Murders; a nude man unexpectedly appears in the backgrounds of film after film; mysterious lights menace the cre Celebrities take refuge in a white-walled mansion as plague and fever sweep into Cannes; a killer finds that the living dead have no appetite for him; a television presenter stumbles upon the chilling connection between a forgotten animal act and the Whitechapel Murders; a nude man unexpectedly appears in the backgrounds of film after film; mysterious lights menace the crew of a small plane; a little girl awakens to discover her nightlight--and more--missing; two sisters hunt vampire dogs in the wild hills of Fiji; lovers get more than they bargained for in a decadent discotheque; a college professor holds a classroom mesmerized as he vivisects Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death"... 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 seventeen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. 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 Two. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.


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Celebrities take refuge in a white-walled mansion as plague and fever sweep into Cannes; a killer finds that the living dead have no appetite for him; a television presenter stumbles upon the chilling connection between a forgotten animal act and the Whitechapel Murders; a nude man unexpectedly appears in the backgrounds of film after film; mysterious lights menace the cre Celebrities take refuge in a white-walled mansion as plague and fever sweep into Cannes; a killer finds that the living dead have no appetite for him; a television presenter stumbles upon the chilling connection between a forgotten animal act and the Whitechapel Murders; a nude man unexpectedly appears in the backgrounds of film after film; mysterious lights menace the crew of a small plane; a little girl awakens to discover her nightlight--and more--missing; two sisters hunt vampire dogs in the wild hills of Fiji; lovers get more than they bargained for in a decadent discotheque; a college professor holds a classroom mesmerized as he vivisects Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death"... 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 seventeen stories included in this anthology were chosen from magazines, webzines, anthologies, literary journals, and single author collections to represent the best horror of the year. 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 Two. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Two

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    Awesome!! Enjoying these so much. On to the next one. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Another season, another few horror fiction anthologies... Short version - a solid read. Should be something here for all tastes. Longer version - so, keeping to my usual review pattern, I'll be structuring this from least-impressive stories to most impressive. In general, this is what you'd expect from the yearly Datlow - a solid collection of good to great stories with only a few clunkers (accounting for taste). This early on in the series, there's no indication of foot-finding, in that Datlow se Another season, another few horror fiction anthologies... Short version - a solid read. Should be something here for all tastes. Longer version - so, keeping to my usual review pattern, I'll be structuring this from least-impressive stories to most impressive. In general, this is what you'd expect from the yearly Datlow - a solid collection of good to great stories with only a few clunkers (accounting for taste). This early on in the series, there's no indication of foot-finding, in that Datlow seems to have a good grasp on what she likes and doesn't like. The "Summation 2009" serves the same purpose as Jones' "Year In" overviews from MBOTBNH, and although I like Datlow's laying out of plots a bit more, she got better at it in later years. Still, a few books stood out as worth taking a look at. And now the reviews: As per my recent assessment regarding my own critical skills, I decided not to finish a story here as it just was not doing it for me. "Wendigo" by Micaela Morrissette rebuffed my efforts with its overly ornamented story freighted with rich/overripe language. Somewhat better, "Mrs. Midnight" Reggie Oliver started promisingly with a celebrity talent judge helping to publicize the restoration of a Victorian-era theater/music hall and stumbling into a connection between its original devastating fire, an animal act, and the Ripper murders. Connections which still seem to manifest in contemporary times. As much as I like Oliver's work, I'll say I was kind of surprised that a story of this caliber ended up in a year's best: it's a perfectly fine, if familiar, story but I found a lot of the writing (outside of a well-chosen and executed narrative "voice") clumsy and kind of pedestrian. Next up we have the "solid but flawed" stories: "The End Of Everything" by Steve Eller tells us about a serial killer's ennui post-zombie apocalypse, with no one to kill and predators who seem disinterested in him. Well-written but passive. Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud's "The Crevasse" starts out excitingly with Antarctic dog sledders on a mission of mercy suddenly faced with the surprise appearance of the titular threat. Unfortunately, the "survival horror" aspect quickly disappears and is replaced towards some vague "weird tale" gesture towards "Mountains Of Madness"/buried city resonance which felt kind of tacked on and is generally unresolved. A shame because the opening is strong and the writing solid. Similarly, "The Lion's Den" by Steve Duffy has a catchy opening (a mystery involving the lion exhibit as a small, community zoo witnessed by the staff) which then advances into a series off odd changes in the day to day routine of the place, culminating in a death and mutilation. Less "horror qua horror" than a "twilight zone" type story (even with the mutilation and death) this lacks an immediate threat (everything happens to other people than the narrator) and has something like a distanced, J.G. Ballard-vibe. I liked it but wanted to like it more. Kaaron Warren's "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall" has a set-up which would normally have turned me off (a poacher of rare dogs is hired to supply some elusive "vampire dogs" - a known quantity in this world—which she tracks down in a remote part of Fiji. But the confrontation doesn't go as planned). It says something positive about the writing that I decided to stick with this dark-fantasy set-up, and I give it credit for never straying too far into its presumptions about the world the story is set in, instead opting for the psychological/symbolic resonance of the dogs. The ending was not fully satisfying but as a whole, the story was accomplished. Next are all the good, solid stories: "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" by Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer has an attempt to make an experimental "exquisite corpse" film, composed of numerous short bits sent in by anonymous filmmakers, "infected" by a mysterious suicide/snuff film from long ago. At which point the ghoulish figure in the original film begins replicating out into the background of other films. Itself composed as a collage of internet postings, text messages & police reports, this is a grim little addition to the "horror keeps pace with technology" subgenre that has been running since, well, forever. The Aurora Borealis hides a dangerous threat for the crew of an airliner making a short stop for deicing at a lonely airfield in Glen Hirshberg's "The Nimble Men" (I bought and presented a reading of this story for the Pseudopod podcast, available for free here - THE NIMBLE MEN). This is another TWILIGHT ZONE type story but the threat is more immediate, and thus more engaging, than "The Lion's Den"). Norman Prentiss' "In The Porches Of My Ears" starts prosaically, as a movie-going couple find their enjoyment somewhat interrupted by a woman sitting near them who narrates the entire plot to her blind companion, and continues in this vein as an interesting modern conté cruel with a slight genre touch. Nice. On the other end of the spectrum, "Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones mixes an Old West setting, a traveling medicine/snake-oil salesman, and zombies into a heady, sinister, nihilistic brew. I especially liked the well-handled ending. Continuing with the good: "Lotophagi" is set in an isolated sustainable/"hippie" community in the Pacific Northwest, as the only survivor of a mass disappearance tells his tale. Edward Morris' interesting busted-focus narrative by the drug-fractured survivor is hard to track at times but engagingly authentic. Carole Johnstone's "Dead Loss", about the crew of a North Atlantic trawler who catch some ancient, living things in their dredge net, is a straight-up and effective monster story. Current rising star Laird Barron is represented here with "Strappado", a grim, nasty little thing about wealthy hedonist yuppies slumming in a third world country, the exclusive & isolated premiere of an "art installation" by a notorious, Banksy-styled "outrage artist", and warehouse location and some large drums of caustic acid. The fictional equivalent of torture pron with the details nicely elided. Meanwhile a traveling crew of circus performers rescue a strange, abandoned young girl from the roadside, and she gradually insinuates herself into their troupe in "The Lammas Worm" by Nina Allen, which works as something of a cross of urban horror and folk horror. There's a bit of clumsy, coincidental plot exposition but overall the setting and social milieu of traveling performers makes this an engaging read. The book closes, as it opened (more on that in a second) with a riff on Poe's "The Masque Of The Red Death" in John Langan's "Technicolor" as a college professor's lecture on the symbolism behind one of Poe's most famous stories, and its connection to an occult text/memoir from the Napoleonic era AND the famed writer's own mysterious last days/death all turns out badly for his students. Again, solid work. Finally, there were two excellent pieces here, imho. "What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night" by Michael Marshall Smith, in which a child awakes to discover his familiar bedroom mysteriously transformed, was so good I bought it for a reading on Pseudopod (which can be heard HERE - WHAT HAPPENS). And this anthology opens with the first of two ("Technicolor" being the second) selections from Datlow's own edited anthology of Poe tributes. Like "Technicolor", "Lowland Sea" also engages "The Masque Of The Red Death" but here transforms and transplants it to modern times as an arrogant filmmaker, ensconced in the hills over Cannes in his private villa, tries to wait out a virulent plague from Africa which is ravaging its way across the Mediterranean. Really solid tale of smug wealth and even more prescient than ever. And that's it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    Favorites: "Each Thing I show You Is a Piece of My Death" by Gemma Files and Stephen Barringer) "In the Porches of My Ears" by Norman Prentiss (contains a truly great, very creepy idea) "Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones (tremendous fun) "The Lion's Den" by Steve Duffy "The Lammas Worm" by Nina Allan and "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg (Glen Hirshberg writes as well as anyone I can think of-- like, anyone I can think of) (I also like "Technicolor" by John Langan a lot, but just read it in his c Favorites: "Each Thing I show You Is a Piece of My Death" by Gemma Files and Stephen Barringer) "In the Porches of My Ears" by Norman Prentiss (contains a truly great, very creepy idea) "Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones (tremendous fun) "The Lion's Den" by Steve Duffy "The Lammas Worm" by Nina Allan and "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg (Glen Hirshberg writes as well as anyone I can think of-- like, anyone I can think of) (I also like "Technicolor" by John Langan a lot, but just read it in his collection a few weeks ago...)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    The back cover tells us "legendary" editor Ellen Datlow ... Hold up, stop right there for a minute. "Legendary"? Isn't that a little ostentatious? "Venerated," sure; "well-respected," definitely; "award-winning," undeniable; but "legendary"? That's a descriptor best used in barroom tall tales and children's bedtime stories. "Boys, did I ever tell you the Legend of Ellen Datlow? On my soul, every word is true." A legendary editor would take the time to ensure all the typos got swept out of her bo The back cover tells us "legendary" editor Ellen Datlow ... Hold up, stop right there for a minute. "Legendary"? Isn't that a little ostentatious? "Venerated," sure; "well-respected," definitely; "award-winning," undeniable; but "legendary"? That's a descriptor best used in barroom tall tales and children's bedtime stories. "Boys, did I ever tell you the Legend of Ellen Datlow? On my soul, every word is true." A legendary editor would take the time to ensure all the typos got swept out of her book. Anyway, back to the cover copy: It promises that editor Ellen Datlow (legendary or not) "knows what scares us." If that's so, I wonder why she's holding back in this book. But that's OK, I'm a hard guy to bug out. The book's not scary, but is it any good? Suzy McKee Charnas kicks off this volume with "Lowland Sea," a modern take on Poe's "Masque of the Red Death." A vapid movie star (is there any other kind?) and his entourage take refuge in a private compound in Cannes, partying non-stop while a plague outside the walls holds dominion over all. It's an interesting spin on Poe's tale, but that's as far as it goes. Charnas sets up her high concept, then ends the story. The best of 2009's best horror is "each thing i show you is a piece of my death," a powerhouse collaboration between Gemma Files and Stephen Barringer. The story is told in high-tech epistolary fashion, in a collage of blog entries, police reports, e-mails and interview transcripts that mirrors rapidly evolving communication media. That format doesn't leave a lot of room for character development, but it enhances the documentary feel of the piece, intensifying the chilly feeling that this story of a literally viral video and its morbidly voyeuristic death cult of personality could be real. Also stylistically daring is Micaela Morrissette's "Wendigo," but to no good purpose. I'm all for the New Weird. I think it's one of the most exciting (non)movements in the fantasy/horror genres, but I see too many random collections of surreal imagery and descriptions of slime, cephalopods and decadence wandering around in search of a story to serve. "Wendigo" was written as a companion piece to a pig flesh art project. Yea, I kinda figured. "The Nimble Men" starts off great, offering a quick hit of creepy as a commuter flight crew is stuck on a rural runway amid snow, spooky woods, weird lights and a reticent air-traffic control tower. But that's not important enough for Glen Hirshberg. He has to make some grand statement about grief, and soon, as in most Hirshberg stories, everybody busts out weeping. Glen Hirshberg is the emo rocker of the horror genre. Norman Prentiss' "In the Porches of My Ears" doesn't even seem to be a horror story until a nasty little stinger hits you at the end. Nicely done. I didn't see it coming. I'm keeping my eye on Prentiss. Kaaron Warren's "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall" has something to do with vampire pets, and yes, it's every bit as stupid as it sounds. There are a couple more Poe pastiches in honor of the 200th year since the poet's birth, but nothing anyone will remember for near that long. The book cover hyperbole continues, asserting that "every year the bar is raised." Well, not really. This is very much like Volume One. The stories are mostly competent (aside from the aforementioned typos), but rarely anything more. There's very little here to reassure a disheartened horror fan that the genre is alive and healthy or even poised for a revival in the near future. In Datlow's recap of horror publications in 2009, most of the novels she singles out as exceptional sound more like crime or fantasy fiction. I finished the book and looked back over the Table of Contents and honestly could not remember a thing about a few of the selections. Datlow is going to have to be a lot more discerning and exacting in her fiction choices if she wants to earn that "legendary" adjective. Maybe she'll get her chance in Volume Three.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    After the previous volume of this series turned out to be not so hot, I had a few concerns on my end about continuing to Volume 2. While I won't say that this book inspired many terror-producing moments, it is definitely an improvement over the first collection. The book opens once more with a summation of books, stories, etc. from 2009, some of which have already gone on my wishlist. It is followed by 17 stories (* indicates the ones I really enjoyed): 1. "Lowland Sea," by Suzy McKee Charnas 2. " After the previous volume of this series turned out to be not so hot, I had a few concerns on my end about continuing to Volume 2. While I won't say that this book inspired many terror-producing moments, it is definitely an improvement over the first collection. The book opens once more with a summation of books, stories, etc. from 2009, some of which have already gone on my wishlist. It is followed by 17 stories (* indicates the ones I really enjoyed): 1. "Lowland Sea," by Suzy McKee Charnas 2. "The End of Everything," by Steve Eller *3. "Mrs. Midnight," by Reggie Oliver *4. "each thing I show you is a piece of my death," by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer 5. The Nimble Men, by Glen Hirshberg 6. What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night," by Michael Marshall Smith 7. "Wendigo", by Micaela Morrissette 8. "In the Porches of My Ears," by Norman Prentiss 9. "Lonegan's Luck," by Stephen Graham Jones *10. "The Crevasse," by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud 11. "The Lion's Den," by Steve Duffy 12. "Lotophagi," by Edward Morris 13. "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall," by Kaaron Warren 14. "Dead Loss," by Carole Johnstone *15. "Strappado," by Laird Barron 16. "The Lammas Worm," by Nina Allan *17. "Technicolor," by John Langan Note the number of asterisks -- when I read Volume 1, I noted three standouts -- now we're up to five! So, not counting "Strappado," by Laird Barron (which I've already read and which is one of my favorite stories by him), that leaves four that are new to me. Hands down, the best story of this group is "each thing I show you is a piece of my death," which is related through a mishmash of different media forms. It is built around the idea of "the background man," who begins to show up embedded within a number of television shows, movies, etc., with no explanation for his presence. "Mrs. Midnight" spans two worlds -- London of the present, and the same city during the time of Jack the Ripper, with a theater connecting the two. "The Crevasse" would have been a perfect fit for Robert M. Price's The Antarktos Cycle, with its Lovecraftian style and Antarctic exploration theme. "Technicolor" took me totally by surprise, but I've come to expect good things from John Langan. A college professor takes his students through Poe's inspiration for "Masque of the Red Death," building the suspense until the very last moment. While this anthology was not great, it's much better than the first volume of this series. Between the two, the stories that were standouts for me in this book were of much higher quality and had a better creep factor going on. Now on to Volume 3 -- hopefully the momentum of improvement will not flag.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Another disappointingly average year-end wrap-up from Ellen Datlow and Night Shade Books. Datlow always seems to get the best from her contributors when she is putting together original anthologies, but most of the stories in these volumes so far simply leave me cold. Three of the stories come from Datlow's own Poe: 19 New Tales of Suspense, Dark Fantasy, and Horror Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, two of them based on "The Masque of the Red Death." In Suzy McKee Charnas' "Lowland Sea," a coterie of Another disappointingly average year-end wrap-up from Ellen Datlow and Night Shade Books. Datlow always seems to get the best from her contributors when she is putting together original anthologies, but most of the stories in these volumes so far simply leave me cold. Three of the stories come from Datlow's own Poe: 19 New Tales of Suspense, Dark Fantasy, and Horror Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, two of them based on "The Masque of the Red Death." In Suzy McKee Charnas' "Lowland Sea," a coterie of celebrities holes up in a mansion to escape the spread of the "red sweat." In John Langan's "Technicolor," a college professor examines Poe's story, tying it in with the journey of a Napoleonic soldier, to sinister ends. The editor has also selected a story from her Lovecraft Unbound: In "The Crevasse," by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud, antarctic explorers discover ancient structures beneath the ice. In Steve Eller's "The End of Everything," a young man in a world overrun by undead finds himself curiously unthreatened. In Steve Duffy's "The Lion's Den," an unexplainable incident at a zoo may have world-changing implications. "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall," by Kaaron Warren, chronicles two sisters-in-law's quest for an exotic and dangerous breed of canine. Between this and Slights, this author is becoming a favorite. In Carole Johnstone's "Dead Loss," a fishing boat picks up something very strange--something the sea wants back. The arrival of a mysterious young girl causes upheaval in the ranks of a traveling circus in Nina Allan's "The Lammas Worm." There are a few very good stories in here, more that are just fair. The less interesting stories have the unfortunate effect of bringing the whole experience down (the more of those one reads, the less patience one will tend to have with the next story, I find.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    First things first: Volume 2 is a clear step up from the disappointing first volume of Ellen Datlow's by now long-running anthology series "Best Horror of the Year". Where the first one suffered from some real stinkers and was safed only by a few standout stories, the second installment at least avoids the real turds, but therefore remains stuck in mediocrity for most of the time. Hence the bandwith of quality is not as blatant as in its predecessor, which in total makes this a much more pleasan First things first: Volume 2 is a clear step up from the disappointing first volume of Ellen Datlow's by now long-running anthology series "Best Horror of the Year". Where the first one suffered from some real stinkers and was safed only by a few standout stories, the second installment at least avoids the real turds, but therefore remains stuck in mediocrity for most of the time. Hence the bandwith of quality is not as blatant as in its predecessor, which in total makes this a much more pleasant read in comparison. However even the usual heavy weights and guarantors like Barron or Graham Jones are not on top of their game and provide some of their weaker stories, leaving the four real highlights of this anthology (out of 18 stories in total) to other authors this time. Here is how it plays out one by one: ** Suzy McKee Charnas - Lowland Sea This smelled like social justice right off the bat and it turned out I was right. Hence expect a lot of pretentious moralizing under the guise of a rather thin post-apocalypstic plot that is only mildly interesting and disappoints further with a highly predictable ending. Next... **-***The End Of Everything by Steve Eller Another post-apocalyptic scenario offering some good prose and managing to build up a decent atmosphere, yet the story somehow ends up sitting between the chairs with a not particularly interesting story arc and an, though present, underdeveloped subtext, leaving it lost in the middle of the road waiting to be run over by its own indecisiveness. Bummer. *** Miss Midnight by Reggie Oliver Slightly disappointed as I have come to expect more of Reggie Oliver. The writing is good, though partially shaky in tone and also the Jack the Ripper angle seems like an afterthought tacked on to the story to make it work for the Ripper-anthology where this was initially published in. Hence: Solid but nothing more. **** Each Thing I Show You Is A Piece Of My Death by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer This story is basically a found footage flick on paper and it works surprisingly well. And that is coming from someone who besides the initial „Blair Witch Project“ and a few exceptions hates the guts out of this genre. This story however is original, smart, creepy and well done. ** The Nimble Men by Glen Hirshberg I like Hirshberg‘s writing. His prose is great and his characters are always well defined, even in his shorter work. This however was, despite being well written, nothing particularly captivating or interesting. Forgettable is probably the correct description here. *** What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night by Michael Marshall Smith Solid little tale, creepy and well executed, yet nothing to justify any superlatives (or a best of nomination for that matter). ****-***** Wendigo by Micaela Morrissette A bizarre tale of eating and being eaten. Utterly weird, unique and full of excellent prose. First real highlight in this collection and exactly what I would expect from a year's best collection. *** In The Porches Of My Ears by Norman Prentiss As a short story this is a nice piece of work with an interesting premise and an emotional payload, even though the break/twist after 2/3 feels a bit harsh. However the horror element is almost non-existent besides the mildy eerie ending, hence it does not necessarily fit a year‘s best horror collection in my opinion, even if we define the genre rather broadly. *** Lonegan‘s Luck by Stephen Graham Jones As to be expected if the author is Stephen Graham Jones the writing is top-notch but I cannot really help but feel a little underwhelmed by the story and its eventual outcome. Mildly entertaining, yes. But nothing for a best of collection. Neither horror nor Stephen Graham Jones. **** The Crevasse by Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrund Intense, brooding and with a constant air of menace about it. Unfortunately this buildup is cut short by a rather abrupt ending that leaves the reader dying to find out more and stops this from getting the full 5-star-treatment. **-*** The Lion’s Den by Steve Duffy Really grabbed my attention in the beginning and I was eager to read on and find out what happened. This lasted up until about halfway through when the main incident‘s description ended and Duffy is unable to revive the initial tension with what follows and the whole thing basically fizzles out completely towards a rather bland ending. Disappointing. **-*** Lotophagi by Edward Morris Tries way to hard to be somewhat artsy and meta but ends up feeling like a poor and rather pretentious attempt at copying Laird Barron. ** The Gaze Dogs Of Nine Waterfall by Kaaron Warren With only some very minor horror elements this feels more like a modern fantasy tale that neither really knows what it is trying to say nor where it iwant to go with it. The tone is inconsistent, the characters thin and the story pretty much leads nowhere in the end. **-*** Dead Loss by Carol Johnstone „The Greatest Catch“ goes creature horror. Not particularly bad, not particularly exciting. Forgettable at worst. *** Strappado by Laird Barron Not Barron‘s finest hour. While probably a good to great story for another writer, compared to Barron‘s other work this is more or less subpar and surprisingly blunt. Many of the things that make Barron great are there, but the story is lacking his usual eloquence and depth. *** The Lammas Worm by Nina Allan There was a lot of potential here but overall the story felt indecisive, not really making anything of it‘s mild lovecraftian undertones nor the sexual and psychological tension it introduces only to finally fade out into a rather banale ending. **** Technicolor by John Langan Now this a story that did not really hit home with me in the beginning but I could nevertheless understand why it would be included in a best of collection. The premise is unique and the execution is pretty damn smart (Langan had me googling Vaugelais at least twice in order to see whether or not he was a real person). However this won me over in the end and given that it actually managed to give me a massive nightmare of cosmic dread and strange dimensions after its consumption before going to sleep I would say Langan deserves to be noted as having provided an excellent and noteworthy closer to this collection.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sparrow

    Sorry to say that I thought this was a poor anthology of horror stories. I didn't like ANY of them except "each thing i show you is a piece of my death." That story was brilliant - it was like "The Ring" except so much scarier. I loved how the story stayed on the periphery - that's what made it so good. But the rest of them were really sub par. They weren't scary. They weren't even just good. A few of them seemed like they might have some potential, but by the end, they petered out. Ah well, can Sorry to say that I thought this was a poor anthology of horror stories. I didn't like ANY of them except "each thing i show you is a piece of my death." That story was brilliant - it was like "The Ring" except so much scarier. I loved how the story stayed on the periphery - that's what made it so good. But the rest of them were really sub par. They weren't scary. They weren't even just good. A few of them seemed like they might have some potential, but by the end, they petered out. Ah well, can't win em all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric Orchard

    I can't believe this is only one years worth of story. Every story is amazing in it's own unique way, there is not a story here I didn't have trouble putting down. The stories run from darkly whimsical to the very disturbing. I'm so happy to be introduced to this handful of authors. I can not recommend this collection highly enough.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lord Humungus

    Most of the stories in this collection were decent, but overall I found this collection a little below Datlow's usual standard of excellence. Even the good stories were, I think, not as good as stories featured in her other collections. Maybe it was a weak story year. Nonetheless, I feel the standouts were The Lammas Worm, The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall, Lonegan's Luck and a piece I'd already read, The Crevasse. I look forward to reading more in this series.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    There's not any one terrible story but most of them were mediocre. All the writing is technically well done, but some horror stories make me roll my eye, some are fun but unforgettable and a few stick with me, haunt me for a lack of a better term. Three of these stories were fantastic in that sense but all the rest fall in the middle middle category. Technicolor was is maybe my favorite, It had the best "aha-oh shit" moment.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scorpio-of-Autumn

    I skipped the last story, the second-to-last was the perfect finale. The very last one was too obscurely-written for me to fully get invested in. This is the third of Datlow's anthologies I've read, and so far it's been the best one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kindell

    Another excellent collections edited by Ellen Datlow. Some stories are better than others, but I like all of them to one degree or another with my favorites being Lowland Sea, Strappado, The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall, and Technicolor.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom C.

    Couldn't get through it. I was really looking forward to this book but it just didn't do it for me. At all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Wright

    this was so much better than the first volume! a lot of great stories!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Gartland

    I liked Mrs. Midnight because it had a competent protagonist taking on horror through investigation and other means. The other stories were different.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gary Siebert

    Meh, not the best of the bunch.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ebenmaessiger

    “Lowland Sea,” by Suzy McKee Charnas (2009): 6.75 - Time signatures time signatures. I have to get away from this reductive, solipsistic, uninformative frame for quick, reactive story reviews. Yet, I can’t help it, especially when they’re so chock full of the stuff, as they are here in late-2000s Charnas. They run the gamut: from strangely prescient (one could say prurient) interest in the sexual exploitation underlying elite liberal circles, thereby prefiguring the basic “point” of media like “ “Lowland Sea,” by Suzy McKee Charnas (2009): 6.75 - Time signatures time signatures. I have to get away from this reductive, solipsistic, uninformative frame for quick, reactive story reviews. Yet, I can’t help it, especially when they’re so chock full of the stuff, as they are here in late-2000s Charnas. They run the gamut: from strangely prescient (one could say prurient) interest in the sexual exploitation underlying elite liberal circles, thereby prefiguring the basic “point” of media like “Get Out” (although, esp. considering how off-base some of the characterizations are [i mean, yes, the basic buying and selling of women, but does the producer put the Russian prostitute in charge of the kids], that prescience was likely happenstance, and instead a function of searching around for subjects of suitably abject content sufficient for the abject story—and, indeed, in truest 2000s form, all that actual exploitation doesn’t even really seem to bother Charnas much at all), to very of-their-time (the concern troll over various African problems [FGM, child soldiers, Islamic terrorism, etc.]). And, of course, the plague, with its quarantining and distancing and paranoia-inducing. In other words, what if you were forced to quarantine with Jeff Epstein during Coronavirus. Shame it couldn’t have been more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    Really fun book of short stories. Would definitely recommend. Horror that wasn't gruesome, suspense that wasn't schlocky. I only skipped a few stories, and mostly due to over-use of dialects or cheeseville settings. Would revisit a few stories: "Each Thing I Show You is a Piece of my Death" by Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer Reminded me a lot of House of Leaves. A scary tech story about some filmmakers organizing a film festival and a haunted tape that infects other films. "What Happens When Y Really fun book of short stories. Would definitely recommend. Horror that wasn't gruesome, suspense that wasn't schlocky. I only skipped a few stories, and mostly due to over-use of dialects or cheeseville settings. Would revisit a few stories: "Each Thing I Show You is a Piece of my Death" by Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer Reminded me a lot of House of Leaves. A scary tech story about some filmmakers organizing a film festival and a haunted tape that infects other films. "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night" by Michael Marshall Smith Spooky short story, reminded me a lot of something out of Are You Afraid of the Dark. Good concept and didn't draw it out too long. "Technicolor" by John Langan A great mix of fantasy, academia, and suspense. Perfect note to end on, especially since the topic mimicked the first story's plot.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beth Roberts

    Overall, a strong anthology, if uneven in places. I've stated before, I don't care for Lovecraftian horror, which is represented in a lot of these stories, including the one I DNF'd with its pretentious overwriting, but interestingly in some of the strongest entries as well. Not changing my mind about Lovecraft or cosmic tentacled horror, but still interesting how much I liked these. Table of contents, with my rating after: Lowland Sea/Suzy McKee Charnas 4.5 The End of Everything/Steve Eller 3 Mrs. Overall, a strong anthology, if uneven in places. I've stated before, I don't care for Lovecraftian horror, which is represented in a lot of these stories, including the one I DNF'd with its pretentious overwriting, but interestingly in some of the strongest entries as well. Not changing my mind about Lovecraft or cosmic tentacled horror, but still interesting how much I liked these. Table of contents, with my rating after: Lowland Sea/Suzy McKee Charnas 4.5 The End of Everything/Steve Eller 3 Mrs. Midnight/Reggie Oliver 3 (lost full star for animal cruelty) Each Thing I Show You is a Piece of My Death/Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer 5 The Nimble Men/GLen Hirshberg 3 What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night/Michael Marshall Smith 3 Wendigo/Michaela Morrissette 1 DNF In the Porches of My Ears/Norman Prentiss 3.5 Lonegan's Luck/Stephen Graham Jones 4.5 The Crevasse/Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud 2 The Lion's Den/Steve Duffy 5 Lotophagi/Edward Morris 4.5 The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall/Kaaron Warren 5 Dead Loss/Carole Johnstone 4.5 Strappado/Laird Barron 4.5 The Lammas Worm/Nina Allen 5 Technicolor/John Langan 5. The entry by Gemma Files reminds me of her novel, Experimental Film, which I loved. The John Langan story is a fascinating mashup of Edgar Allen Poe and Lovecraft that was very well-executed and highly original.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Bellamy

    Having read several of Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year volumes now, I think they are very good. It’s difficult to rank individual volumes because any collection of stories is going to contain pieces that work for some and not others. Like every collection I’ve ever read, this collection has stories that just didn’t work for me. It’s hard to ignore them and give the book five stars. At the same time, giving the collection three stars doesn’t seem fair. (Not to mention nobody reads thre Having read several of Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year volumes now, I think they are very good. It’s difficult to rank individual volumes because any collection of stories is going to contain pieces that work for some and not others. Like every collection I’ve ever read, this collection has stories that just didn’t work for me. It’s hard to ignore them and give the book five stars. At the same time, giving the collection three stars doesn’t seem fair. (Not to mention nobody reads three star reviews). This volume is weirder than others. Most of the stories here do not fall into the standard horror story genre. They aren’t stories to read outside at night by the light of a fire (well, except maybe ‘The Nimble Men’ or ‘The Crevasse’). They are more unsettling and thought provoking, like ‘Technicolor’ which is a study of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, or Lotophagi, which is told from the viewpoint of someone that can barely get the words down sensibly on paper (intentional? Not sure.) Gemma Files’ and Stephen J. Barringer’s ‘each thing I show you is a piece of my death’ is an ingenious tale that not only terrifies, but stands as a commentary on the genre as well as a furtherance of a living dialogue on the genre – my favorite of the collection. Quite frankly, even the duds here, for me ‘Strappado’ and ‘The End of Everything’ are worth reading. All around, this entire series, so far, is a must have for anyone reading horror or the weird.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sami C

    There are two entries in this anthology that I particularly loved: "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas and "each thing I show you is a piece of my death" by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer. Everything else was kinda meh. Both of my favorites have that special blend of creepy, chilling, relatable, and uncanny. Lowland Sea is the tale of a group of Hollywood production people who get stuck in a mansion in Cannes while outside, people are dying of the very contagious Red Sweat. each thing I shoul There are two entries in this anthology that I particularly loved: "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas and "each thing I show you is a piece of my death" by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer. Everything else was kinda meh. Both of my favorites have that special blend of creepy, chilling, relatable, and uncanny. Lowland Sea is the tale of a group of Hollywood production people who get stuck in a mansion in Cannes while outside, people are dying of the very contagious Red Sweat. each thing I should you is a piece of my death is told through email exchanges, interview transcripts, and news reports. It's similar to The Ring, kind of. Focuses on "Background Man", a naked guy who shows up in videos but was never there when the video itself was shot. If you're iffy about reading this, at least try these two stories. They'll keep you up at night.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Entertaining Anthology. Contents: Suzy McKee Charnas: "Lowland Sea" Steve Eller: "The End of Everything" Reggie Oliver: "Mrs. Midnight" Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer: "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" Glen Hirshberg: "The Nimble Men" Michael Marshall Smith: "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night" Micaela Morrissette: "Wendigo" Norman Prentiss: "In the Porches of My Ears" Stephen Graham Jones: "Lonegan's Luck" Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud: "The Crevasse" Steve Duffy: "The Lion's De Entertaining Anthology. Contents: Suzy McKee Charnas: "Lowland Sea" Steve Eller: "The End of Everything" Reggie Oliver: "Mrs. Midnight" Gemma Files & Stephen J. Barringer: "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" Glen Hirshberg: "The Nimble Men" Michael Marshall Smith: "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night" Micaela Morrissette: "Wendigo" Norman Prentiss: "In the Porches of My Ears" Stephen Graham Jones: "Lonegan's Luck" Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud: "The Crevasse" Steve Duffy: "The Lion's Den" Edward Morris: "Lotophagi" Kaaron Warren: "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall" Carole Johnstone: "Dead Loss" Laird Barron: "Strappado" Nina Allan: "The Lammas Worm" John Langan: "Technicolor"

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lee Battersby

    A wide-ranging and vibrant read, with all levels of horror from visceral to intellectual recognised. The best reads are those that resonate subtly but with lasting effect. John Langan's "Technicolor" was a favourite, as was "Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones and "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" by Gemma Files & Stephen J Barringer. But all the stories are strong, and there are no duds amongst them. It would be a rare reader indeed who put the book down disappointed. Recommend A wide-ranging and vibrant read, with all levels of horror from visceral to intellectual recognised. The best reads are those that resonate subtly but with lasting effect. John Langan's "Technicolor" was a favourite, as was "Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones and "each thing i show you is a piece of my death" by Gemma Files & Stephen J Barringer. But all the stories are strong, and there are no duds amongst them. It would be a rare reader indeed who put the book down disappointed. Recommended.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Erik Nelson

    An excellent, literate horror antho with some truly fantastic reads, and only one or two complete misses (for me). Although "Wendigo" was one such miss--and actually had me put the volume aside for several months--I'm thrilled that I picked it back up: "Lowland Sea," "In the Porches of My Ears," "Lonegan's Luck," and "Technicolor" hit me log a gong. I was also especially taken with "each thing i show you is a piece of my death," even though I felt like it petered out, rather than ringing true, a An excellent, literate horror antho with some truly fantastic reads, and only one or two complete misses (for me). Although "Wendigo" was one such miss--and actually had me put the volume aside for several months--I'm thrilled that I picked it back up: "Lowland Sea," "In the Porches of My Ears," "Lonegan's Luck," and "Technicolor" hit me log a gong. I was also especially taken with "each thing i show you is a piece of my death," even though I felt like it petered out, rather than ringing true, at the end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edwin L.

    Standouts include: “Technicolor” by John Langan “Wendigo” by Micaela Morrissette “each thing I show you is a piece of my death” by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer “The Lion’s Den” by Steve Duffy “Lonegan’s Luck” by Stephen Graham Jones “The End of Everything” by Steve Eller “Mrs. Midnight” by Reggie Oliver “Lowland Sea” by Suzy McKee Charnas “The Crevasse” by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud “Lotophagi” by Edward Morris “The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall” by Kaaron Warren “Strappado” by Laird Barron

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Munroe

    I don't know if I enjoyed this volume of the series more than the first due to objective difference in quality, or just because I was more ready for what it was doing and came into it with a better attitude, but I quite liked this one. The stories come at you from odd angles, and the tropes are used more playfully, and the overall experience comes off as a weird, unique, eerie one. Very well collected collection, I very much dug it...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    i wanted to give this more stars because the writing was good, but it just wasn't scary enough to warrant more than one. a few of the stories were vaguely unsettling, but they certainly didn't cause a "delicious shiver of fear". it was an entertaining enough read, but "best horror of the year" is kind of a misleading title. i'd definitely categorise these stories as dark fiction, but not horror.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Some of these stories were so scary I had to put the book away for a breather. It's an excellent collection, worthy of the campfire, or a simple, quiet evening at home with the lights off and the doors and windows sensibly locked. The horror will penetrate you and mark you permanently. I feel a fondness for some of these stories that has endured. I hope to pick up the book again sometime soon and experience them again.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Horror that immediately scares is immediately forgotten. I really enjoyed these stories because sometimes you had to work to think beyond "this is a well written story"... This is the kind of horror that sneaks up on you days later when it is quiet, you're alone and suddenly every noise could be someone breaking into your house, every shift of a tree is that thing coming to get you. This is my kind of book!

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