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For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the wor For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the work. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman Kim Stanley Robinson Stephen King Linda Nagata Laird Barron Margo Lanagan And many others With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers. And in this anniversary edition, we share the most important stories which have been covered in the last decade of horror writing.


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For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the wor For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the work. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman Kim Stanley Robinson Stephen King Linda Nagata Laird Barron Margo Lanagan And many others With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers. And in this anniversary edition, we share the most important stories which have been covered in the last decade of horror writing.

30 review for The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: Ten Years of Essential Short Horror Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Contents: ix - Introduction by Ellen Datlow 001 - "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas 023 - "Wingless Beasts" by Lucy Taylor 037 - "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg 049 - "Little America" by Dan Chaon 065 - "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee 091 - "The Monster Makers" by Steve Rasnic Tem 099 - "Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones 111 - "In a Cavern, in a Canyon" by Laird Barron 129 -"Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn 139 - "Shepherds’ Business" by Stephen Gallagher 157 - "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gai Contents: ix - Introduction by Ellen Datlow 001 - "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas 023 - "Wingless Beasts" by Lucy Taylor 037 - "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg 049 - "Little America" by Dan Chaon 065 - "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee 091 - "The Monster Makers" by Steve Rasnic Tem 099 - "Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones 111 - "In a Cavern, in a Canyon" by Laird Barron 129 -"Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn 139 - "Shepherds’ Business" by Stephen Gallagher 157 - "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gaiman 161 - "The Man from the Peak" by Adam Golaski 175 - "In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos" by John Langan 207 - "The Moraine" by Simon Bestwick 225 - "At the Riding School" by Cody Goodfellow 239 - "Cargo" E.Michael Lewis 255 - "Tender as Teeth" by Stephanie Crawford & Duane Swierczynski 275 - "Wild Acre" Nathan Ballingrud 299 - "The Callers" by Ramsey Campbell 311 - "This Stagnant Breath of Change" by Brian Hodge 329 - "Grave Goods" by Gemma Files 361 - "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" Peter Straub 391 - "Majorlena" by Jane Jakeman 397 - "The Days of Our Lives" by Adam L. G. Nevill 413 - "You Can Stay All Day" by Mira Grant 429 - "No Matter Which Way We Turned" by Brian Evenson 431 - "Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll 449 "Better You Believe" by Carole Johnstone 469 - About the Authors 479 - Acknowledgment of Copyright 483 - About the Editor

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roxie |The Book Slayer| Voorhees

    This was a book club read and I am glad it is over! ⭐⭐Lowland by the Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas ⭐⭐Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor ⭐⭐The Nimble men by Glen Hirshberg ⭐⭐⭐Little America by Dan Chaon ⭐⭐⭐⭐Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee ⭐⭐⭐Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones ⭐⭐⭐In a Cavern, In a Caynon by Laird Barron ⭐⭐⭐Allochthon by Livia Llewellyn ⭐⭐⭐Shepard's Business by Stephen Gallagher ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Man From the Peak by Adam Gola This was a book club read and I am glad it is over! ⭐⭐Lowland by the Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas ⭐⭐Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor ⭐⭐The Nimble men by Glen Hirshberg ⭐⭐⭐Little America by Dan Chaon ⭐⭐⭐⭐Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee ⭐⭐⭐Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones ⭐⭐⭐In a Cavern, In a Caynon by Laird Barron ⭐⭐⭐Allochthon by Livia Llewellyn ⭐⭐⭐Shepard's Business by Stephen Gallagher ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Man From the Peak by Adam Golaski ⭐⭐⭐In Paris, In the Month of Kronos by John Langan ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Moraine by Simon Bestwick At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow ⭐⭐⭐Cargo by E. Michael Lewis ⭐⭐Tender as Teeth by S. Crawford & Duane Swerczynski ⭐⭐Wild Acre by Nathan Ballingrud ⭐⭐⭐The Callers by Ramsey Campbell ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Stagnant Breath of Change by Brian Hodge ⭐⭐⭐⭐Grave Goods by Gemma Files ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub ⭐⭐Majorlena by Jane Jackman ⭐⭐⭐⭐The Days of Our Lives by Adam L. G. Nevill ⭐⭐⭐⭐You Can Stay All Day by Mira Grant ⭐⭐⭐No Matter Which Way we Turned by Brian Evenson ⭐⭐⭐Nesters by Siobhan Carroll ⭐⭐Better You Believe by Carole Johnstone

  3. 5 out of 5

    Armand

    Last year, I read the latest installment in Datlow's Best Horror of the Year series. Only a handful of the hundred-plus books that I devoured back then garnered 5 stars from me, and it was one of them. Add to that the fact that this book is a distillation of what the editor considers the very best stories of the preceding 10 volumes and I guess I may be forgiven if I came into this with very high expectations. In the Introduction, Datlow discusses some horror novels and single-author collections Last year, I read the latest installment in Datlow's Best Horror of the Year series. Only a handful of the hundred-plus books that I devoured back then garnered 5 stars from me, and it was one of them. Add to that the fact that this book is a distillation of what the editor considers the very best stories of the preceding 10 volumes and I guess I may be forgiven if I came into this with very high expectations. In the Introduction, Datlow discusses some horror novels and single-author collections that she liked. Only a few of these managed to stir my interest. I respect Datlow's editorial discernment but there are a few pieces here that made me scratch my head, knowing that she had such an embarrassment of riches from which to select more worthy fare. For instance, I knew that one of my absolute favorite King stories, The Little Green God of Agony, was anthologized somewhere in this series. Sadly, it wasn't included, while some entries that left me indifferent at best were. The ones here are mostly alright, but this book took a long time to get going. In any case, the following caught my fancy: Black and White Sky - an epic glut of magpies bury Britain in a shroud In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos - two disgraced ex-soldiers are sent on a most curious mission: to escort their previous mentor, a Mephistophelian virtuoso of torture and intel extraction At The Riding School - the ancient blood mysteries practised in secrecy in an elite riding school comes to a head when its headmistress blackmails a fugitive vet to commit a crime The Callers - a boy stumbles upon a bingo game for old ladies, one with sinister prizes The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine - I've read this years ago in one of the volumes in the Best New Horror series. That I can remember it until now is a testament to how powerful it is. I'm rating this 7/10 or 3 stars out of 5.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew “The Weirdling” Glos

    An anthology book is always a mixed bag- some good, some ok, some outright bad. This one is a collection of “best of” stories from ten years of “best of” books. So, on the whole, the quality of these stories is very high. There’s a little of something for everyone here- monsters, supernatural, psychological, sci-fi and futuristic, period pieces, fantasy. All lovers of horror short fiction will find something that plays to their favorites, and a few things that stretch their boundaries. Good book An anthology book is always a mixed bag- some good, some ok, some outright bad. This one is a collection of “best of” stories from ten years of “best of” books. So, on the whole, the quality of these stories is very high. There’s a little of something for everyone here- monsters, supernatural, psychological, sci-fi and futuristic, period pieces, fantasy. All lovers of horror short fiction will find something that plays to their favorites, and a few things that stretch their boundaries. Good book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    Total rating: 3/5 Despite having some really excellent horror in here, this anthology was bogged down by mediocre and downright awful short stories that do not live up to the title. Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas 2.5/5 The concept of the red sweat really intrigued- what’s more horrifying than seeing people covered in a bloody film? The writing was pretty good, maybe not as intriguing as the actual illness. I was uncomfortable, however, with the stories portrayal of Africa: all we as readers see Total rating: 3/5 Despite having some really excellent horror in here, this anthology was bogged down by mediocre and downright awful short stories that do not live up to the title. Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas 2.5/5 The concept of the red sweat really intrigued- what’s more horrifying than seeing people covered in a bloody film? The writing was pretty good, maybe not as intriguing as the actual illness. I was uncomfortable, however, with the stories portrayal of Africa: all we as readers see of it is as the source of the sickness and a place where people get sold into slavery. Which would make sense if the main character was white and clueless but the main character is from Africa. Also, I don’t think we ever find out what country??? The narrator talks about Africa like it’s a country when it’s a humongous continent with so many different cultures, climates, etc. the fact that a disease would spread to the entirety of Africa before ever hopping over to Italy seems very convenient and not very likely. Wingless Beast by Lucy Taylor 3.5/5 This story definitely had me going for the first couple of pages. The character progression and intrigue in this story are great. Writing is pretty solid and keeps you involved even after you know what’s going to happen. The Nimble Men by Glen Hirshberg 3/5 I like the story itself but the ending felt like it was supposed to be cleanly wrapped up but I still had so many questions. I don’t mind the questions so much if it didn’t feel like a recap ending Little America by Dan Chaon 3.5/5 I really liked this werewolf (ish?) tale between a turned boy and the un-turned man who is protecting him. Has it been done before? Yes (think Girl with all the gifts) but it was still a nice character study. Black and White sky by Tanith Lee 4/5 It was a longer story but in Tanith Lee fashion, incredibly original and well written. She turns something strange but also seemingly innocuous into something terrifying. One day in England, magpies begin rising from the sky. Over and over again without stopping. Planes are crashed, cars ruined, and people left to their own devices under a black and white sky. The Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem 2/5 An interesting concept somewhat ruined by poor execution, the monster makers tries to do too much in too few pages. A grandfather narrates a tale of out of control grandchildren who cast spells (?) and turn people into werewolves (?). Excuse the question marks but I am not quite sure of the mechanics of the story. The grandfathers inner monologue and his love for his children was nice but everything else in the story was tremendously confusing. Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones 2.5/5 An anthropology doctorate student and his advisor find themselves in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. This is such an interesting take on the zombie survival narrative and it would have been amazing if it was handled better. Instead of taking an anthropological lens to the zombies (figuring out their evolution, why they travel in hordes (or herds)) we mostly get an anthropologists idea of survival- trailing after a zombie horde and eating the bone marrow of the zombies latest victims. The story was overly focused on being as anthropological as possible and the moral tale of saving over surviving gets lost until the very end. In A Cavern, In A Canyon by Laird Barron 3.5/5 Altogether a clever and creepy read. I applaud the author for introducing a different type of monster to the story, one that feels like a mixture of a banshee and siren. Allochthon by Livia Llewellyn 4/5 This was beautifully dizzying and terrifying. It was confusing but in the way that just adds to the terror. The only thing is found offbeat was the beginning where the author talks about nature and land being alive- it explains more than it needs to and feels like an essay explaining the story Shepherd’s Business by Stephen Gallagher 3/5 Over all, I liked the piece but it didn’t feel much like horror to me. The end just felt sad. Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman 4/5 My only complaint is that I wish Neil Gaiman had a longer piece in this book. The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski 1/5 Everybody talks about Mary Janes but can we for a moment acknowledge that there is also a type of male character that is an obvious wishful self-insert of the author: who is extremely attractive with women fighting over him and doesn’t seem to have a single fault to him. This book was like a b-rated horror movie- so many boobs and so much gore- except worse because I was never actually scared. In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos by John Langan 2.5/5 I wasn’t super hooked with this story but I did like the Ancient Greek mythos. The Moraine by Simon Bestwick 4/5 This might be the scariest story in the book for me. It was clever and gripping and had excellent character development. Also, makes me think twice about hiking in the mountains. At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow 0/5 This was such an aggravatingly stupid story that I was barely able to finish it. The biggest horror of it is that the editor thought this was “the best of the best horror.” I highly advise anyone who is triggered by sexual assault to avoid this story at all costs. Cargo by E. Michael Lewis 3/5 Atmospherically creepy and realistically horrifying, this story takes a look at Jonestown from the perspective of a pilot flown in to take the bodies back home. Tender as Teeth by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski 3.5/5 This was a refreshing take on the zombie narrative- focused instead on an aftermath where zombies have been cured and are forced to face the reality of what they’ve done Wild acre by Nathan Ballingrud 3/5 The narrator of this werewolf piece was intensely aggravating but I did really like the end. The Callers by Ramsey Campbell 3/5 Let me just say, the elderly are an underutilized source in the horror genre. Who knew bingo could be so freaky? This Stagnant Breath of Change by Brian Hodge 3/5 I would have given this a higher rating because I liked the story but why do white authors keep using the n- word? I don’t care that you’re trying to portray racism or whatever, it is not our word to use. Grave Goods by Gemma Files 1.5/5 I really wanted to like this story. The main character is trans, two other main characters are First Nations and African, all the characters are women. I wanted to but I actually kind of hated it? The trans narrative got bogged down by a super transphobic character and a cis-savior arc(similar to white savior) and on top of that, the writing was just plain awful. The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub 1/5 This was weird and not in a good way. I’m still not sure what was going on the whole time. Also, the main relationship is a man and woman who fell in love when she was 15 and he was 38 so yeah. Another super triggering one for self harm and underage manipulation. Majorlena by Jane Jakeman 4/5 Short and sweet. Majorlena may be a new favorite monster. The Days of Our Lives by Adam L. G. Nevill 3/5 After finishing this story, I am thoroughly confused but pretty satisfied, I think. The juries still out. You Can Stay All Day by Mira Grant 4/5 Hands down my favorite zombie piece in this book. Mira Grant did what the anthropology story should have done and focused her characters knowledge of animal behavior on the zombies which of course, just like in the classics, are not referred to as zombies. I felt so in sync with this main character and her need to put her animals before other people and herself. No Matter Which Way We Turned by Brian Evenson 3.5/5 Horror flash fiction is the way to my heart, honestly. Nesters by Siobhan Carroll 4.5/5 Historical Horror fiction is such an underutilized genre fuse (not including gothic/Victorian). Siobhan Carroll takes us to the heart of the dust bowl where something else is happening under the dust/ something dangerous, alien. Better You Believe by Carole Johnstone 3.5/5 This story definitely made me never want to mountain climb ever. Similar to Descent, it works on the very real fears of avalanches, falling, asphyxiation. The monster is the mountain or the horrors we put ourselves through for seemingly no reason. By the time the supernatural comes into play, it is not horrific, it is merely a product of the horrific. And that makes it even scarier.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    If you want an idea of what you’re diving into before committing, “The Nimble Men” by Glen Hirshberg and “The Moraine” by Simon Bestwick are available for a free listen at PseudoPod. http://pseudopod.org/2010/10/31/pseud... http://pseudopod.org/2016/12/15/pseud... I’ve read a number of the anthologies that helped form this book, and the table of content determination had me scratching my head several times. Many of these authors had significantly stronger examples of their work included in a differ If you want an idea of what you’re diving into before committing, “The Nimble Men” by Glen Hirshberg and “The Moraine” by Simon Bestwick are available for a free listen at PseudoPod. http://pseudopod.org/2010/10/31/pseud... http://pseudopod.org/2016/12/15/pseud... I’ve read a number of the anthologies that helped form this book, and the table of content determination had me scratching my head several times. Many of these authors had significantly stronger examples of their work included in a different year. That said, this may be the perfect TOC for you. “Lowland Sea” was a fascinating modern retelling of The Masque of the Red Death. “Allocthon” is a grim cosmic horror tale that while it is aware of “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Lurking Fear” it owes them no loyalty and plucks out their eyes to have for their own. “In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos” by John Langan is a moody piece that wrestles with “enhanced interrogation techniques” and captures a moment in amber that society would prefer forgotten. “At the Riding School” by Cody Goodfellow was a grotesque modern revisitation of miscegenation horror. “Cargo” was a nice dark piece that shone a light on a little explored impact of the Jamestown tragedy. “Tender as Teeth” by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski is some exceptional character work exploring the burden of viral infamy. “You Can Stay All Day” by Seanan McGuire (as by Mira Grant) is an excellent take on the zombie story, focusing on the people instead of the zombies. This one uses the perspective of a zookeeper during the initial outbreak. “In a Cavern, in a Canyon” by Laird Barron has some excellent character work, but certain monster beats hit me more with “The Moraine” elsewhere in this book, as well as “Bug House” by Lisa Tuttle. “Grave Goods” by Gemma Files felt like it would have benefited from being expanded into a novelette or novella, as there were so many characters yearning for more room to breathe.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joe Piccoli

    3.6 TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. Introduction—Ellen Datlow 2. 4* Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas 3. 4* Wingless Beasts—Lucy Taylor 4. 3.5* The Nimble Men—Glen Hirshberg 5. 3.25* Little America—Dan Chaon 6. 4* Black and White Sky—Tanith Lee 7. 2* The Monster Makers—Steve Rasnic Tem 8. 3* Chapter Six—Stephen Graham Jones 9. 4* In a Cavern, in a Canyon—Laird Barron 10. 3* Allochthon—Livia Llewellyn 11. 2* Shepherds’ Business—Stephen Gallagher 12. 3* Down to a Sunless Sea—Neil Gaiman 13. 3* The Man from the Peak—Adam Go 3.6 TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. Introduction—Ellen Datlow 2. 4* Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas 3. 4* Wingless Beasts—Lucy Taylor 4. 3.5* The Nimble Men—Glen Hirshberg 5. 3.25* Little America—Dan Chaon 6. 4* Black and White Sky—Tanith Lee 7. 2* The Monster Makers—Steve Rasnic Tem 8. 3* Chapter Six—Stephen Graham Jones 9. 4* In a Cavern, in a Canyon—Laird Barron 10. 3* Allochthon—Livia Llewellyn 11. 2* Shepherds’ Business—Stephen Gallagher 12. 3* Down to a Sunless Sea—Neil Gaiman 13. 3* The Man from the Peak—Adam Golaski 14. 4* In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos—John Langan 15. 4* The Moraine—Simon Bestwick 16. 4* At the Riding School—Cody Goodfellow 17. 4* Cargo—E.Michael Lewis 18. 4* Tender as Teeth—Stephanie Crawford & Duane Swierczynski 19. 4* Wild Acre—Nathan Ballingrud 20. 4 The Callers—Ramsey Campbell 21. 5 This Stagnant Breath of Change—Brian Hodge 22. 4 Grave Goods—Gemma Files 23. 5 The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine—Peter Straub 24. 4 Majorlena—Jane Jakeman 25. 3 The Days of Our Lives—Adam L. G. Nevill 26. 4 You Can Stay All Day—Mira Grant 27. 3* No Matter Which Way We Turned—Brian Evenson 28. 4 Nesters—Siobhan Carroll 29. 4 Better You Believe—Carole Johnstone

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This tended to lean to more opaque stories that I had a hard time getting into and are actually my least favorite kind in the regular editions of Best Horror of the Year. There were still plenty I enjoyed but these added up to just under half of the total stories so giving this 3 stars. Stabdout favorites were Lowland Sea, Black and White Sky, Chapter Six, Shepherds' Business, Tender as Teeth, The Callers, This Stagnant Breath of Change, and The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine. This tended to lean to more opaque stories that I had a hard time getting into and are actually my least favorite kind in the regular editions of Best Horror of the Year. There were still plenty I enjoyed but these added up to just under half of the total stories so giving this 3 stars. Stabdout favorites were Lowland Sea, Black and White Sky, Chapter Six, Shepherds' Business, Tender as Teeth, The Callers, This Stagnant Breath of Change, and The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Jean

    My favorite stories were: Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas At the Riding School—Cody Goodfellow Tender as Teeth—Stephanie Crawford & Duane Swierczynski Grave Goods—Gemma Files You Can Stay All Day—Mira Grant Better You Believe—Carole Johnstone The others were solid, but the ones I listed I especially enjoyed. The first and last stories were EXCEPTIONAL.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matthew R. Taylor

    I found this collection of short horror stories to be pretty good. I will say, the first two stories that open this collection I did find quite boring. They were very slow and actually made me question whether I should keep reading. The third story however, really grabbed my attention and made me want to continue reading. After that, I enjoyed many more of the stories I found in this collection. Some of them are beautiful, some of them are quite ugly, and some of them make you really rethink how I found this collection of short horror stories to be pretty good. I will say, the first two stories that open this collection I did find quite boring. They were very slow and actually made me question whether I should keep reading. The third story however, really grabbed my attention and made me want to continue reading. After that, I enjoyed many more of the stories I found in this collection. Some of them are beautiful, some of them are quite ugly, and some of them make you really rethink how you look at things, but, all of them are truly horror stories. I rated this book a four out of five due to the fact that the first two stories I found to be quite boring, and honestly thought this collection could’ve done without them. Otherwise, I think it was a good collection, with some great stories, and I would recommend anyone read this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    Favorites: "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg "Little America" by Dan Chaon "Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones "Shepherds' Business" by Stephen Gallagher <--- scary! "The Days of Our Lives" by Adam Nevill and the one that will haunt me: "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee Favorites: "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg "Little America" by Dan Chaon "Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones "Shepherds' Business" by Stephen Gallagher <--- scary! "The Days of Our Lives" by Adam Nevill and the one that will haunt me: "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    It turns out that I am a finicky consumer of contemporary horror. Although I have found authors I like, many of them fall into the “literary horror” category, those authors whose publishers go out of their way to distance them from the genre ghetto. (The authors usually seem much less concerned about this than their publishers.) When it comes to more traditional horror, I have learned that short stories are more likely to please than novels, and that the “best of” annuals edited by Ellen Datlow It turns out that I am a finicky consumer of contemporary horror. Although I have found authors I like, many of them fall into the “literary horror” category, those authors whose publishers go out of their way to distance them from the genre ghetto. (The authors usually seem much less concerned about this than their publishers.) When it comes to more traditional horror, I have learned that short stories are more likely to please than novels, and that the “best of” annuals edited by Ellen Datlow are a dependable resource for getting to know both new authors and old hands at the game. This new publication ups the games by choosing the “best of the best” from the past ten anthologies. In her introduction, Datlow prepares the reader for the familiar tropes of zombies, vampires, serial killers, and werewolves, but she makes the point that they are there because horror writers keep finding new twists. Nathan Ballingrud’s “Wild Acre” combines werewolves and the recession of 2008. Siobhan Carrol’s “Nesters” places a variation of Lovecraft’s “The Color out of Space” in the Oklahoma dust bowl of the Great Depression. There are a few more coincidental crossovers to popular culture. In “The Moraine” by Simon Bestwick, a young couple gets trapped in what could be a version of Tremors without the gags. The post-zombie apocalypse narrative in Stephanie Crawford’s and Duane Swierczynski’s “Tender as Teeth” has cropped up in several feature films. Suzy McKee Charnas’s “The Lowland Sea” recasts “The Masque of the Red Death” at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a perfect match. My nomination for the best of the “best of the best” is Adam L.G. Nevill’s “The Days of Our Lives.” I couldn’t tell you the plot because it barely has one, and the back story remains vague. The characters survive in a perpetual state of drudgery, danger, murder, and panic. As they title implies, they are just doing what they have to do, and it is a nightmare.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I enjoyed this big, thick book of horror stories. It's been a long time since I've picked up a horror anthology, but after hearing the editor on a podcast, I was intrigued. I'm glad I got it! After reading The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2016 a few years back, I sort of wrote off short speculative/fantasy fiction because so many of the stories in that book were trash. I used to read short horror fiction voraciously in the 80s and 90s. In fact, now that Paperbacks from Hell: The Tw I enjoyed this big, thick book of horror stories. It's been a long time since I've picked up a horror anthology, but after hearing the editor on a podcast, I was intrigued. I'm glad I got it! After reading The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2016 a few years back, I sort of wrote off short speculative/fantasy fiction because so many of the stories in that book were trash. I used to read short horror fiction voraciously in the 80s and 90s. In fact, now that Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is making a bit of a splash, I am deeply regretting getting rid of all my books a few years ago! I had a treasure trove. Any how, this anthology is great. Most stories are good, and some are excellent. I think I've probably outgrown horror a little bit, but I still liked sticking my claw back into the witch's cauldron.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maureen O'Leary

    I got this volume for Christmas, and I've been savoring it as a tremendously enjoyable reading experience. Each story has something tremendous to offer any fan of literary horror. I'm a fan of the Best Horror of the Year collections, and love having so many of my favorites in one place, as well as several I somehow missed. The story telling and writing within this volume is brilliant. What a great present. Highly recommend. I got this volume for Christmas, and I've been savoring it as a tremendously enjoyable reading experience. Each story has something tremendous to offer any fan of literary horror. I'm a fan of the Best Horror of the Year collections, and love having so many of my favorites in one place, as well as several I somehow missed. The story telling and writing within this volume is brilliant. What a great present. Highly recommend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    I didn't realize, when I bought this, that this would be a compilations of her ... compilations. Let's milk that cow for all it's worth, right? Bizarrely, the intro has Datlow saying she hardly gets to read books because she's too busy reading short stories but wants to give us a list of handful of books she did read and loved... then gave us like an hour straight of book titles. Hmmm... I wonder if there was a kick back for that advertisement? Regardless, I thought the first half of this book wa I didn't realize, when I bought this, that this would be a compilations of her ... compilations. Let's milk that cow for all it's worth, right? Bizarrely, the intro has Datlow saying she hardly gets to read books because she's too busy reading short stories but wants to give us a list of handful of books she did read and loved... then gave us like an hour straight of book titles. Hmmm... I wonder if there was a kick back for that advertisement? Regardless, I thought the first half of this book was okay. I'd read all these before, obviously, but it was nice to revisit the better stories in this series. The second half fell off the rails for me though. It felt like she started this with good intentions but midway through she just said 'fuck it'.

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Bastin

    I haven't read much horror lately, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look and see what good horror is like, these days. Good? Naw, it's really not so much. Most of these were just long, dragged out tales with little real horror to find. They're mostly boring and not worth spending the time. The Neil Gaiman story was good, I'll recommend that one. I had high hopes for Peter Straub from previous experience, but it was long and tedious and not really what I would consider "ho I haven't read much horror lately, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look and see what good horror is like, these days. Good? Naw, it's really not so much. Most of these were just long, dragged out tales with little real horror to find. They're mostly boring and not worth spending the time. The Neil Gaiman story was good, I'll recommend that one. I had high hopes for Peter Straub from previous experience, but it was long and tedious and not really what I would consider "horror." Messy, a little gory, but mostly boring. So if you like your reading to be true horror, I'll have to recommend you look elsewherel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Some solid stories, but they didn’t really live up to the title.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    For something called the best of the best horror most of the stories in this book were pretty bad

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    The most horrifying thing about these stories is that they are supposedly among the best of the best. I can't imagine how disappointing the mediocre horror stories are. The most horrifying thing about these stories is that they are supposedly among the best of the best. I can't imagine how disappointing the mediocre horror stories are.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maitland

    I've read several of Ellen Datlow's "Best Horror of the Year" collections in the past and I would consider myself a fan. I'm trying to be more detailed with anthology reviews to I'm going to put my top 5 stories from this collection. As a caveat I must say that there are way more than 5 great stories in this collection, but I have to draw the line somewhere. It's also hard to review short stories in much depth without spoiling things, especially so with horror given how they are so often structure I've read several of Ellen Datlow's "Best Horror of the Year" collections in the past and I would consider myself a fan. I'm trying to be more detailed with anthology reviews to I'm going to put my top 5 stories from this collection. As a caveat I must say that there are way more than 5 great stories in this collection, but I have to draw the line somewhere. It's also hard to review short stories in much depth without spoiling things, especially so with horror given how they are so often structured around a twist or reveal. The introduction to the book also has a great comment from Datlow about horror and genre tropes in general: "...there's a reason these tropes/monsters don't go away. They are not tired, they are not worn out. And as long as writers take a fresh look at them and continue to crate bracing takes on them, they will never be." Top 5, in no particular order Lowland Sea - Suzy McKee Charnas First story in the collection and it's about a pandemic to boot! One thing I like so much about this one is the way that our narrator's observations contrast the ways in which her world is both darkly twisted and also very much our world of today. There's no introductory exposition in the vein of "in the year 2046, cyborgs took over lunar city with demands of equal rights". Instead everything is made more haunting by the level of normalcy implied by our narrator's tone. Cargo - E. Michael Lewis Unsettling yet not outright horrific, this one anchors itself to a very real historical tragedy and leaves a lot up to the reader's interpretation. Down to a Sunless Sea - Neil Gaiman A very short story that takes on the air of a cautionary fairy tale. I think this one also does a great job of saying just enough that you put together what's going on just ahead of our characters, resulting in delightful "oh no..." moments. No Matter Which Way We Turned - Brian Evenson Flash fiction, clocking in at about 1 page, Evenson makes every sentence count. I had read his Novel Last Days as well and I will definitely seek out more. The Stagnant Breath of Change - Brian Hodge Another that's more subtle than outright horrific, this one examines fear and agency in a small American town. There's a triumph in here in that the reader will feel, but you know it can only be snatched away later. Again, there are many more outstanding stories in the collection besides these 5. Anthologies like this are great for finding new authors, and Datlow also has a section of the introduction where she talks about her favorite novels from the past decade as well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nikolaos

    The very title of this anthology makes a bold claim and sets a very lofty goal, one that I can't help but feel it falls short of achieving. There are some truly excellent stories, but also some mediocre ones and more than a few that are really not my cup of tea. While thematically there is something for everyone, I see certain patterns in the editor's picks, some of which I appreciate and some... I really don't. To be more specific, more than one story uses supernatural horror elements to highligh The very title of this anthology makes a bold claim and sets a very lofty goal, one that I can't help but feel it falls short of achieving. There are some truly excellent stories, but also some mediocre ones and more than a few that are really not my cup of tea. While thematically there is something for everyone, I see certain patterns in the editor's picks, some of which I appreciate and some... I really don't. To be more specific, more than one story uses supernatural horror elements to highlight the far too real horror of financial ruin and destitution. "Nesters" is a prime example, and as far as I am concerned, the best story in this collection. There are also a few pandemic stories, one of an actual virus and a couple of the zombie outbreak variety, that do a good job of showing individual and group reactions in the face of societal collapse. Bear in mind, no one outside the medical field had ever head of a coronavirus when this anthology was edited. I liked those stories. But the editor seems to also have an appreciation for the kind of story that I do not like at all, broadly described as a "mood piece". Nice prose, hallucinatory situations that play fast and loose with time and place, plot either non-existent or unresolved, leaving the reader - at least this reader - baffled rather than spooked. A full third of the stories in this anthology can be described in those terms, including the sole novella, "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine", that among stiff competition, takes top prize for moodpieciness.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joanie

    Individual story ratings: Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas-5 Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor-5 The Nimble Men by Glen Hirshberg-3 Little America by Dan Chaon-4 Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee-4 Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem-4 Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones-5 In a Cavern, in a Canyon by Laird Barron-4 Allochton by Livia Llewellyn-3 Shepherd’s Business by Stephen Gallagher-5 Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman-5 The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski-3.5 In Paris-in the Mouth of Kronos by John Lang Individual story ratings: Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas-5 Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor-5 The Nimble Men by Glen Hirshberg-3 Little America by Dan Chaon-4 Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee-4 Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem-4 Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones-5 In a Cavern, in a Canyon by Laird Barron-4 Allochton by Livia Llewellyn-3 Shepherd’s Business by Stephen Gallagher-5 Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman-5 The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski-3.5 In Paris-in the Mouth of Kronos by John Langan-4 The Moraine by Simon Bestwick-5 At the Riding School by Cody Goodfellow-5 Cargo by Michael E. Lewis-5 Tender as Teeth by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski-5 Wild Acre by Nathan Ballingrud-5 The Callers by Ramsey Campbell-4 This Stagnant Breath of Change by Brian Hodge-4.5 Grave Goods by Gemma Files-4 The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub-4 Majorlena by Jane Jakeman-3.5 The Days of our Lives by Adam L. G. Nevill-4 You Can Stay All Day by Mira Grant -4.5 No Matter Which Way We Turned by Brian Evanson-3 Nesters by Siobhan Carroll-4 Better You Believe by Carole Johnstone-5

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jordi

    A long overdue reading debt: to dig into Ellen Datlow’s horror short fiction year’s best anthologies. What best place to start than this “anthology of anthologies” picking up stories from the first 10 years up to 2018? The best reward was probably discovering new authors I was not aware - I was specially intrigued by the stories from Adam Golaski, Stuart LG Nevill, Dan Chaon and Steve Rasnic Tem. If I had to pick a few favorites in addition to those, I would start with the devastating “Allocthon” A long overdue reading debt: to dig into Ellen Datlow’s horror short fiction year’s best anthologies. What best place to start than this “anthology of anthologies” picking up stories from the first 10 years up to 2018? The best reward was probably discovering new authors I was not aware - I was specially intrigued by the stories from Adam Golaski, Stuart LG Nevill, Dan Chaon and Steve Rasnic Tem. If I had to pick a few favorites in addition to those, I would start with the devastating “Allocthon” by Livia Llewellyn, a nightmarish loop of an eternal Sunday morning in an apparent suburban paradise, inner hell for the protagonist - a house wife drowned by the grayness of her life. It plays real well with the lovecraftian idea that the landscape is alive - the day may come that we may need to answer its terrible call. There’s also small masterpieces from veteran writers as Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub or Neil Gaiman - all of them shaking in different ways. And even more, there’s my personal old favorites, some of them with stories I haven’t read before: Laird Barron, John Langan, Nathan Ballingrud and the late Tanith Lee.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A well-curated collection of horror stories with divergent approaches. Overall top-shelf stuff, even if it wasn't all to my tastes. It actually gives a nice sense of the breadth of the genre, and I bet there's something for every horror reader in here. My top five: 1. "Black and White Sky" - Lee: A surreal and unique story of what happens when the magpies get weird. 2. "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" - Straub: A nasty tale about some nasty people, with some very creepy and ambiguous moments. 3. A well-curated collection of horror stories with divergent approaches. Overall top-shelf stuff, even if it wasn't all to my tastes. It actually gives a nice sense of the breadth of the genre, and I bet there's something for every horror reader in here. My top five: 1. "Black and White Sky" - Lee: A surreal and unique story of what happens when the magpies get weird. 2. "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" - Straub: A nasty tale about some nasty people, with some very creepy and ambiguous moments. 3. "Lowland Sea" - Charnas: This was the first story in the collection, and its 'Masque of the Red Death' vibes hit extra strong in 2020. 4. "The Days of Our Lives" - Nevill: Now this is a bad marriage. 5. "The Man From the Peak" - Golaski: The narrator is an unbearable person, but he still doesn't deserve a visitor from the peak. The stories by Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, and John Langan were also very good, but I already like those writers.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Johan

    I had no idea that horror could be so incredibly boring and this is supposed to be the best of the best horror of the past 10 years. With all the books on my TBR list, I should really learn to stop reading a book when it is not interesting, exciting, captivating, ... There were a couple of good stories, like "Majorlena" by Jane Jakeman, "You Can Stay All Day" by Mira Grant, Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones and some others, but most were tedious. Whilst reading "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrin I had no idea that horror could be so incredibly boring and this is supposed to be the best of the best horror of the past 10 years. With all the books on my TBR list, I should really learn to stop reading a book when it is not interesting, exciting, captivating, ... There were a couple of good stories, like "Majorlena" by Jane Jakeman, "You Can Stay All Day" by Mira Grant, Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones and some others, but most were tedious. Whilst reading "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" by Peter Straub I really wanted to throw away the book, to tear the pages out, because it was such a effing waste of my time. But I couldn't, because I was reading it on my ebook reader.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Trussoni

    Here, we have all the expected perpetrators of terror — sinister psychopaths, killer plagues and malevolent birds — but without any of the dark and stormy clichés. The stories in this collection feel both classic and innovative, while never losing the primary ingredient of great horror writing: fear. Datlow writes in her introduction that there are “zombies and vampires and serial killers and ghost stories and Lovecraftian horror herein,” but that these conventions of horror writing “are not wor Here, we have all the expected perpetrators of terror — sinister psychopaths, killer plagues and malevolent birds — but without any of the dark and stormy clichés. The stories in this collection feel both classic and innovative, while never losing the primary ingredient of great horror writing: fear. Datlow writes in her introduction that there are “zombies and vampires and serial killers and ghost stories and Lovecraftian horror herein,” but that these conventions of horror writing “are not worn out ... as long as writers take a fresh look at them. And they do, bringing readers to very scary places in ways I haven’t experienced before.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Josef Klafka

    There are no bad stories in this book. Datlow has collected mostly exciting, imaginative and well-written horror stories, ranging from Lovecraftian cosmic horror to the dangers of the natural world. Most have a strong interpersonal and emotional component as well. Some standout stories: "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas; "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee; "Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn; "Wild Acre" by Nathan Ballingrad; "This Stagnant Breath of Change" by Brian Hodge; and "Nesters" by Siobh There are no bad stories in this book. Datlow has collected mostly exciting, imaginative and well-written horror stories, ranging from Lovecraftian cosmic horror to the dangers of the natural world. Most have a strong interpersonal and emotional component as well. Some standout stories: "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas; "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee; "Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn; "Wild Acre" by Nathan Ballingrad; "This Stagnant Breath of Change" by Brian Hodge; and "Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I always enjoy "Best of the Best" anthologies because you know you'll be getting good stuff. "Best of the Best Horror" is no exception. If you really want to get a sense of how horror has evolved in the last few decades, this is your book. Most of the stories were good but The Moraine, You Can Stay All Day, and Tender As Teeth were standouts (the last two very creative spins on the worn-out zombie apocalypse). And for sheer disturbing imagery Ramsey Campbell's The Callers and Adam L.G. Nevill's I always enjoy "Best of the Best" anthologies because you know you'll be getting good stuff. "Best of the Best Horror" is no exception. If you really want to get a sense of how horror has evolved in the last few decades, this is your book. Most of the stories were good but The Moraine, You Can Stay All Day, and Tender As Teeth were standouts (the last two very creative spins on the worn-out zombie apocalypse). And for sheer disturbing imagery Ramsey Campbell's The Callers and Adam L.G. Nevill's The Days of Our Lives can't be beat. So jump in. Don't be afraid to be afraid!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    Despite all the big names in this collection, and the it's literally supposed to be "the best of the best" over a whole ten years of horror short story writing...I did not connect with very many of these stories. My favourite was definitely "The Moraine" by Simon Bestwick. I thought it had a great atmosphere. Literally mist and monsters. Kinda felt like a classier, UK version of The Ruins. Despite all the big names in this collection, and the it's literally supposed to be "the best of the best" over a whole ten years of horror short story writing...I did not connect with very many of these stories. My favourite was definitely "The Moraine" by Simon Bestwick. I thought it had a great atmosphere. Literally mist and monsters. Kinda felt like a classier, UK version of The Ruins.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Dorneman

    A very strong Best of the Best collection; only two clunkers (that were still horrific, but too confusing for this simple mind to follow), and all the rest deliciously creepy and nightmare inducing -- and that's actually a good thing. Two particularly notable takes on what one might think is the exhausted zombie trope were highlights for me, plus some new structures on solid Lovecraftian foundations, and a story of doomed mountain climbers that has no supernatural elements at all. Recommended, a A very strong Best of the Best collection; only two clunkers (that were still horrific, but too confusing for this simple mind to follow), and all the rest deliciously creepy and nightmare inducing -- and that's actually a good thing. Two particularly notable takes on what one might think is the exhausted zombie trope were highlights for me, plus some new structures on solid Lovecraftian foundations, and a story of doomed mountain climbers that has no supernatural elements at all. Recommended, at least for Horror fans.

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