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This twentieth anniversary showcase includes a single story from each of the Best New Horror annual anthologies. Contents: 1989. No sharks in the Med / Brian Lumley -- 1990. The man who drew cats / Michael Marshall Smith -- 1991. The same in any language / Ramsey Campbell -- 1992. Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death / Christopher Fowler -- 1993. Mefisto in onyx / Harlan Ellis This twentieth anniversary showcase includes a single story from each of the Best New Horror annual anthologies. Contents: 1989. No sharks in the Med / Brian Lumley -- 1990. The man who drew cats / Michael Marshall Smith -- 1991. The same in any language / Ramsey Campbell -- 1992. Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death / Christopher Fowler -- 1993. Mefisto in onyx / Harlan Ellison -- 1994. The temptation of Dr. Stein / Paul J. McAuley -- 1995. Queen of knives / Neil Gaiman -- 1996. The break / Terry Lamsley -- 1997. Emptiness spoke eloquent / Caitlin R. Kiernan -- 1998. Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff / Peter Straub -- 1999. White / Tim Lebbon -- 2000. The other side of midnight: Anno Dracula, 1981 / Kim Newman -- 2001. Cleopatra Brimstone / Elizabeth Hand -- 2002. 20th century ghost / Joe Hill -- 2003. The white hands / Mark Samuels -- 2004. My death / Lisa Tuttle -- 2005. Haeckel's tale / Clive Barker -- 2006. Devil's smile / Glen Hirshberg -- 2007. The church on the island / Simon Kurt Unsworth -- 2008. The New York Times at special bargain rates / Stephen King.


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This twentieth anniversary showcase includes a single story from each of the Best New Horror annual anthologies. Contents: 1989. No sharks in the Med / Brian Lumley -- 1990. The man who drew cats / Michael Marshall Smith -- 1991. The same in any language / Ramsey Campbell -- 1992. Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death / Christopher Fowler -- 1993. Mefisto in onyx / Harlan Ellis This twentieth anniversary showcase includes a single story from each of the Best New Horror annual anthologies. Contents: 1989. No sharks in the Med / Brian Lumley -- 1990. The man who drew cats / Michael Marshall Smith -- 1991. The same in any language / Ramsey Campbell -- 1992. Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death / Christopher Fowler -- 1993. Mefisto in onyx / Harlan Ellison -- 1994. The temptation of Dr. Stein / Paul J. McAuley -- 1995. Queen of knives / Neil Gaiman -- 1996. The break / Terry Lamsley -- 1997. Emptiness spoke eloquent / Caitlin R. Kiernan -- 1998. Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff / Peter Straub -- 1999. White / Tim Lebbon -- 2000. The other side of midnight: Anno Dracula, 1981 / Kim Newman -- 2001. Cleopatra Brimstone / Elizabeth Hand -- 2002. 20th century ghost / Joe Hill -- 2003. The white hands / Mark Samuels -- 2004. My death / Lisa Tuttle -- 2005. Haeckel's tale / Clive Barker -- 2006. Devil's smile / Glen Hirshberg -- 2007. The church on the island / Simon Kurt Unsworth -- 2008. The New York Times at special bargain rates / Stephen King.

30 review for The Mammoth Book of The Best Of Best New Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    I expected more of this anthology The general rating is an average sum result of the individual ratings given to each short story contained in the anthology. This is an anthology edited by Stephen Jones, making a personal selection of the stories that he considered as the best story of each “Best of New Horror” anthologies published since its first publishing (1989) covering 20 years (2008) (the anthology series keep being published so far (2016)). While there were some brilliant stories totall I expected more of this anthology The general rating is an average sum result of the individual ratings given to each short story contained in the anthology. This is an anthology edited by Stephen Jones, making a personal selection of the stories that he considered as the best story of each “Best of New Horror” anthologies published since its first publishing (1989) covering 20 years (2008) (the anthology series keep being published so far (2016)). While there were some brilliant stories totally worthy of 5-stars rating, some others were disappointments, at least to my humble opinion, that it was unexpected, since due this was an anthology made with “best of the best” along with the big names in the list of authors, well, I thought that the general reading should be much better, but in any case, the anthology hold a fair 3-stars rating, still on the positive side of a reading experience. 1989 NO SHARKS IN THE MED By Brian Lumley Rating: *** ( 3 stars ) A honeymooners couple goes to Greece, at a small town called Achladi, right in front of the Mediterranean Sea, where they want to enjoy the local bars, souvenirs’ stores and have a little of beach & fun in some near small island. They know that there aren’t sharks in the Mediterranean Sea (cool trivia fact I learned by the way), however the just married couple aren’t considering that predators come in many shapes and species. It was a good story, but too predictable, and lacking of making the proper hard calls to strenghten the climax’s impact. 1990 THE MAN WHO DREW CATS By Michael Marshall Smith Rating: *** ( 3 stars ) A quiet man moves to another town, where the community knows little of him, but the fact that he likes to draw, usually using chalk, and often having cats in his paintings. While people usually say “small town, big deal”, when the deal becomes too gruesome, too real, ironically the townpeople tend to look the other way. The quiet man can’t do that, and he is willing to do something too gruesome, too unreal, to make justice. Again, a good story but again too predictable. 1991 THE SAME IN ANY LANGUAGE By Ramsey Campbell Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) A man is doing some vacations along with his son and his mistress in the island of Crete (it’s odd, with the first story, this one and 19th story, the three of them used parts of Greece as scenario, nothing to complain about, but I found curious that kind of coincidence). The adults in the party didn’t know any Greek language, while the son knows enough, but it doesn’t really matter, since there are things, creepy things, that mean the same in any language. I expected a lot more since it was Ramsey Campbell, that I have a huge respect for him and I have read many good stuff by him, sadly, this time wasn’t the case. 1992 NORMAN WISDOM AND THE ANGEL OF DEATH By Christopher Fowler Rating: ***** ( 5 stars ) An odd man is fan of Norman Wisdom (some obscure comedian in old British radio shows) along with being fan of mostly Old British Comedy Radio Shows. He is a sales Clerk but what he enjoys the most is being helper in a hospital, near of the grave sick patients, near of those really close to die… …so nobody will notice if they die a little teeny-weeny bit sooner… …they will die anyways, right? So where is the harm? Clever narrative, full of black humor, told by the main character himself. 1993 MEPHISTO IN ONYX By Harlan Ellison Rating: ***** ( 5 stars ) Do not fall into the error of the artisan who boasts of twenty years experience in his craft while in fact he had had only one year of experience – twenty times. An afro-american man is a mind-reader, in fact, he is, so far, the only known mind-reader and he is recognized as such by Government and Legal authorities. He has been long-time friend of a lady, who is Chief District Attorney. She has a complicated case of a serial killer, but she isn’t so sure that the convict is really guilty, and the convict is already waiting his Death Sentence. So, she needs proof that seems that only his mind-reader friend will be able to get and since he is recognized by the Legal System, what he’d read, it can be used as evidence in court. A brilliant twisted tale from the clever mind of Harlan Ellison with so many twists that you won’t never know what will happen next, and when the twists would end. Definitely the crown jewel in this anthology. 1994 THE TEMPTATION OF DR. STEIN By Paul J. McAuley Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) Dr. Stein and Dr. Pretorious are good in one thing… …bringing dead back to life. A cliché story, cliché characters, with cliché names, resulting in a boring product. 1995 QUEEN OF KNIVES By Neil Gaiman Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) Grandfather, Grandmother and Grandchild go to a magic show… …not all of them will come back from it. It was another shock to me, since I have a huge respect to Neil Gaiman too, but sadly, while the story has some amusing concepts and a good ambiance, I feel that it lacks some kickin’ in the climax to provoke the proper goosebumps. 1996 THE BREAK By Terry Lamsley Rating: *** ( 3 stars ) A boy goes in holidays’s break to pass it with his grandparents in a hotel where they are staying, but between the Alzheimer of Grandad and the hermeticism of Gran(ny), the boy has the strange feeling that something odd is going on at that hotel… …and he isn’t wrong! Curiously enough two stories involving grandparents and their grandchild in a row, in this anthology, curiously a little better, but not curiously enough of something better than 3-stars rating. 1997 EMPTINESS SPOKE ELOQUENT By Caitlin R. Kiernan Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) Journal’s entries through several ages of Humanity, written by Mina Harker, and she is feeling lonelier with the pass of each age. A cool concept, quite eloquent indeed, but poorly developed, and lacking of excitement. 1998 MR. CLUBB AND MR. CUFF By Peter Straub Rating: **** ( 4 stars ) Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff are “Private Detectives Extraordinaire”, at least that says their presentation cards, however in reality they are something quite different, something more sinister… …they will take care for you, any trouble you need to be solved, not matter if that trouble is a person, not matter if the person needs to stop breathing. They are meticulous, they like protocol, they aren’t afraid of being proactive and they enjoy (too much) their line of work. The success of each job is crucial, even if the client isn’t as committed to it as Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff. Clever narrative where you are always on the edge of what would happen next. 1999 WHITE By Tim Lebbon Rating: **** ( 4 stars ) It’s the end of world (literally) and a group of friends are stuck in a Victorian manor, in the middle of nowhere, with fallling snow everywhere. They aren’t sure, but they well may be the last ones of their species, but that’s okay since a new species is rising to fill the void. And the world is too much little for both species. Cool (freezing actually) ambiance, great character development and an engaging narrative. 2000 THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT: ANNO DRACULA, 1981 By Kim Newman Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) An account of relevant events in an alternate timeline where Dracula and his bloodline (pun intended) prevailed and they have never defeated. Cool concept, but it lack of excitement for a proper climax. 2001 CLEOPATRA BRIMSTONE By Elizabeth Hand Rating: **** ( 4 stars ) Janie is no more. She suffered an awful personal experience, something that nobody should suffer. Now, she is Cleopatra Brimstone. She had been too much time in a cocoon, and now she got a wonderful metamorphosis. She always like to collect butterflies, but since now she is the butterfly, she is starting to collect something else. It’s payback time. You won’t mock a butterfly anymore. 2002 20TH CENTURY GHOST By Joe Hill Rating: **** ( 4 stars ) Rosebud Theater brings all kind of film lovers, and for a woman in special, being dead won’t stop her to enjoy the movie… …oh, and she likes to talk with you when the movie is a good one, after all movies are better enjoyed with company, right? Brilliant analysis of how the movies have evolved along with society and their impacts with each other. 2003 THE WHITE HANDS By Mark Samuels Rating: ***** ( 5 stars ) Lillith Blake was an obscure writer at the end of 19th Century, but her legacy was incomplete, death took her before being able to write and to publish her greatest anthology… …but there isn’t any problem, oh no! Since her hands, her white hands, will continue the important work… …once they find the right host. Feverish mad tale where the creepy factor is high. 2004 MY DEATH By Lisa Tuttle Rating: ** ( 2 stars ) A writer whose experience has fallen in catalogues and travel brochures feels compelled to make a biographical book about Helen Ralston, an obscure painting artist (between her paintings figures one named “My Death”) and novelist of one book, “In Troy”, and happens that she is still alive, but she is 96 years old, so there isn’t much time to waste and interview her as fastest as possible is imperative. This story reminded me the Japanese animated movie Millenium Actress (2001), but while that movie isn’t one of my favorite ones from the late Satoshi Kon (which I love his work in Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers), indeed I enjoyed a lot better that movie than this story. Both lacked of some “punch”, but at least the movie has the visual factor in its favor. 2005 HAECKEL’S TALE By Clive Barker Rating: *** ( 3 stars ) There is a man claiming to be a necromancer, able to raise the dead, in exchange of a money charging… …he must be a charlatan, right? Think again! And secure your doors! Fair story, with an elegant narrative, but lacking of a satisfactory climax. 2006 DEVIL’S SMILE By Glen Hirshberg Rating: *** ( 3 stars ) A concerned man is trying to convince to an old widow to get back to the town, to be with the community… …that man shouldn’t meddle with others’ business! Fair good story with a fair climax. 2007 THE CHURCH ON THE ISLAND By Simon Kurt Unsworth Rating: ***** ( 5 stars ) A young woman is on vacations in a Greek Island (Greek tourism is in a rush in this anthology!) and she visits the Church of the Order of St. John of Patmos, a small church without any luxuries, just one monk to attend it, but a important job for the sake of humanity. Extraordinary story, with awesome concepts about how Catholic religion should work in the practice, with a clear influence from H.P. Lovecraft’s works, and easily the third best story in this anthology (but it was a close calling against the second best, the following and final stoy). 2008 THE NEW YORK TIMES AT SPECIAL BARGAIN RATES By Stephen King Rating: ***** ( 5 stars ) A woman is preparing herself to attend her husband’s funeral. He died due a plane crash. However, just now, she is receiving a phone call… …from her dead husband. Wonderful last conversation of a married couple who loves each other a lot, and an amusing view of what there is in the other side, at least in the first stop. Time and love work in curious ways. Stephen King,… …who else? The second best story in the anthology. One could think that it was thought to close the book with a bang, but since this anthology was made choosing the best story of each published anthology in 20 years, and presented in order per year, in the book. So I guess it was random and the factor that it’s Stephen King, that this last story in the book resulted to be the second best one (in my humble opinion) in this anthology.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This was a one-stop attempt by me to see how recent horror writing compares with the fantastic Pan Book of Horror Stories series I was a fan of when I was a vile teenager. The Pan Books were total gonzo. I would like to review all of them but I fear everyone would defriend me. Okay, the experience was not good. Two examples : No Sharks in the Med. by Brian Lumley This first story did indeed fill me with a deep sense of dread and unease, along the lines of What Have I Volunteered Myself For? - since This was a one-stop attempt by me to see how recent horror writing compares with the fantastic Pan Book of Horror Stories series I was a fan of when I was a vile teenager. The Pan Books were total gonzo. I would like to review all of them but I fear everyone would defriend me. Okay, the experience was not good. Two examples : No Sharks in the Med. by Brian Lumley This first story did indeed fill me with a deep sense of dread and unease, along the lines of What Have I Volunteered Myself For? - since this story is an unbelievably stupid string of cliches - check it out - the honeymooners find themselves trapped on an isolated Greek beach by a local guy called Spiro : "Geoff, we're in trouble," Gwen said as soon as Spiros had left. "We're in serious trouble." "I know it," he said. "I think I've known it ever since we got here. That bloke's as sinister as they come." The Man who Drew Cats. by Michael Marshall Smith No no nooo. This kind of dingle-dangly ookums was corny in the 1930s. I'll spoil it for you - a (tall mysterious) stranger comes to (a perfect quaint rural American) town. He can draw and paint real well. A woman in the town and her young son are getting regularly battered by her drunk of a husband. The tall stranger draws a tiger which gets the bad guy. How supernatural is that? Plenty, I'd say. Turns out this version of modern horror is mostly supernatural. Which is why I'm outta here. I mean, what are we, twelve? The beauty (I should say ugliness) of the Pan Books of Horror Stories was that they were SECULAR. (Mostly). They didn't believe in anything except cruelty. Okay, modern horror, this is goodbye from P Bryant.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    The Mammoth Book, Best of the Best in Horror, represents 20 years of effort by Jones. Each year is represented by a story that Jones felt to be memorable, and even the “best.” This probably isn’t always the case, as the collection’s last story by Stephen King underscores (though it’s solid enough, this selection has more to do with name than outstanding substance). But in most instances, as he plows through each year’s “Mammoth” effort, Jones, while explaining his preference for a story, and why The Mammoth Book, Best of the Best in Horror, represents 20 years of effort by Jones. Each year is represented by a story that Jones felt to be memorable, and even the “best.” This probably isn’t always the case, as the collection’s last story by Stephen King underscores (though it’s solid enough, this selection has more to do with name than outstanding substance). But in most instances, as he plows through each year’s “Mammoth” effort, Jones, while explaining his preference for a story, and why, will also mention two or three others that should be looked at. Jones also limits himself – rightly or wrongly – to only having one story per author. I can see the reasoning, but I can also see that writers like Ramsey Campbell, Caitlin Kiernan, Peter Straub, and Elizabeth Hand, could have easily had, given the quality of their writing, more entries. But it would have quickly swamped the collection. As it is, the variety of voices works, for the most part, wonderfully. As an added extra, Jones prefaces each year’s effort with some memories about what he went through to put the edition out. One of the more humorous threads – book by book – was the Jones’ ongoing battle over the consistently goofy cover art. There are a few good ones, but his resistance to the bad ones – copies of the covers are included -- was usually a losing fight. Another extra is the index of titles and authors for the entire series. If you go to the individual volumes (and not included here), you also get the yearly “Necrology,” which after 20 years, has got to be some sort of pop culture must. Jones has been steady at this for 20 years, and I could bitch about who isn’t in an annual effort, and some other things, but it’s probably time to take a step back and applaud the guy for the remarkable achievement and service he’s provided for a genre he loves. A few comments on the stories below. I didn’t read all of them, because in most cases I’ve already read them. 1. “No Sharks in the Med,” by Brian Lumley (1989): Pulpy tourist hell story that takes place in Greece. A young couple making consistently bad decisions. One in particular is so bad that it nearly marred the story. But the ending makes it all right in the end. 2. “The Man Who Drew Cats,” by Michael Marshall Smith (1990): An artist with a past, and a peculiar talent with his art. Good stuff. 3. “The Same in Any Language,” by Ramsey Campbell (1991): Another Greece story, told from the point of view of a young boy visiting an old leper colony. Very solid Campbell effort (which means it’s good). I question Jones’ placement here after story # 1. As many times as Campbell has appeared in this series, he could of probably chosen another, non-Greek, story. Still, it’s a good, creepy story. 4. “Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death,” by Christopher Fowler (1992). Couldn’t finish it. Something to do with an English comedian I’ve never heard of. 5. “Mephisto in Onyx,” by Harlan Ellison (1993). Ellison is really good writer, but I HATED this story. I couldn’t finish it. I read the first twenty pages, and it felt like fifty. Maybe it’s just me, since this story seems to be highly thought of, and has appeared in other anthologies. I thought the pacing sucked, and the main character – an African American who could read minds – to be one of the most annoying characters I’ve come across in some time. 6. “The Temptation of Dr. Stein,” by Paul McAuley (1994). Back on track. I’ve not read McAuley before, so this was a real treat. A Jewish doctor, grieving the loss of his daughter, encounters the evil Doctor Pretorius (remember “The Bride of Frankenstein”) in the waterways of Venice. Outstanding. 7. “Queen of Knives,” by Neil Gaiman (1995). I didn’t read it. It’s a poem, and I’m not a fan of Gaiman (and I read a lot of poetry – so I’m pretty tough on that anyway). A poem was the “best” thing to come out of 1995’s effort? I suspect this is Jones wanting to get Gaiman in due to name recognition. 8. “The Break,” Terry Lamsley (1996). A sensitive boy vacationing at the seashore with his grandparents. The hotel they stay at is a strange one with strange guests. This is one weird story, and you’re never really sure what is real. It’s easy to mess something like this up, but Lamsely pulls it off beautifully. It had me looking to see what else he’s written. Outstanding. 9. “The Emptiness Spoke Eloquent,” Caitlan Kiernan (1997). Her short stories are remarkable, and as Jones says about her, “it’s about the language.” This is a what-if story regarding the later life of Mina (from Dracula). Outstanding. 10. “Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff,” Peter Straub (1998). I didn’t read it because I’ve read it before. I’m not a big Straub fan, but this is a really good story, and I recall it being Outstanding. 11. “White,” Tim Lebbon (1999). Pretty good End-of-World siege story. The set up I thought was better than the conclusion. 12. “The Other Side of Midnight: Anno Dracula 1981,” by Kim Newman (2000). I’m not a big fan of alternative histories, but this was pretty cool. Orson Welles, vampires, murder, and competing Dracula flicks. Basically, it’s noir, and pretty well done. With all the name dropping going on, it’s a minor miracle that Newman pulled it off so well. I wasn’t crazy about the quick wrap up of an ending, but everything before that was a fun ride. 13. “Cleopatra Brimstone,” by Elizabeth Hand (2001). Young college student (and rape victim) taking a sabbatical in London. She has an interest in bugs. I’ll say no more. Best story in the collection. Outstanding. 14. “20th Century Fox,” by Joe Hill (2002). Good ghost story that I had read before. As I recall, this wasn’t my favorite story in Hill’s (good) collection. 15. “White Hands,” by Mark Samuels (2003). Very Lovecraftian story about a researcher, a deadly book , and a mysterious 19th Century writer of ghost stories. 2nd best story in the collection. Samuels is someone I want to read more of. Outstanding. 16. “My Death,” Lisa Tuttle (2004). Amazingly, I finished it. Probably because it is well written (in a plodding sort of way). This is not a horror story, and it’s 75 pages or so. The payoff was really lame. Kind of pissed me off. 17. “Haekle’s Tale,” by Clive Barker (2005). Good (and gruesome) Barker story that I’ve read before. 18. “Devil’s Smile,” by Glen Hirschberg (2006). An agent from the Lighthouse Service (I didn’t know there was such a thing) is riding the coast, closing down old lighthouses. One assignment takes him close to home. I really liked the setting of this, but I was kind of confused by it as well. A good read that I may want to revisit. 19. “The Church on the Island,” by Simon Kurt Unsworth (2007). Another “Greece” story, but the best one. A woman is attracted to a church on a distant island. She swims to it to see why. I’ve read this one before. Outstanding. 20. “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates,” by Stephen King (2008). There has to be some sort of back story as to why King has not appeared in this series until now. I’d love to know why. As it is, this is a solid story involving loss, grief, and hope. I’m doubtful that it represents the best in this volume, but all in all a good story, and a good closer for the collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    Cleansing my library. Thought I'd re-read this before throwing it away, but now that I've re-read the introductions by Stephen Jones I can't get rid of it. Don't get me wrong, some of the stories are quite good (My Death by Lisa Tuttle especially), but the introductions are amazing. The poor editor laments the deplorable cover art to no avail: 1998: Just because I thought vampires had become a cliché did not mean that the publisher was in any way averse to putting them on the cover. However, it w Cleansing my library. Thought I'd re-read this before throwing it away, but now that I've re-read the introductions by Stephen Jones I can't get rid of it. Don't get me wrong, some of the stories are quite good (My Death by Lisa Tuttle especially), but the introductions are amazing. The poor editor laments the deplorable cover art to no avail: 1998: Just because I thought vampires had become a cliché did not mean that the publisher was in any way averse to putting them on the cover. However, it was perhaps unfortunate that they chose to do so with the Tenth Anniversary edition which, unlike the previous volume, did not actually contain any stories featuring the undead. 2001: I had hoped that by now I had made my point regarding the covers. However, when The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13 came out with blobby lettering and what looked like a DayGlo skull on the front, I knew that nobody was listening to my opinions anymore. 2002: After the psychedelic skull of the previous year, things had to change. If there was any chance that the series would once again have a cover design that did justice to the contents, then I realized that I would actually have to do it myself. And then things get slightly better, until 2008: The cover they wanted to put on the Twentieth Anniversary edition was even more awful than the previous one. I finally had to put my foot down. Again. The suffering that man has endured.

  5. 4 out of 5

    TKBoss

    STEPHEN JONES’ THE BEST OF BEST NEW HORROR: VOLUME ONE Review by Trevor Kennedy for Phantasmagoria Magazine. For over thirty years now, the annual Stephen Jones-edited (earlier editions were co-edited with Ramsey Campbell) Best New Horror series has been a staple of the highest quality genre literature around, unsurprisingly including work from the biggest names in the field and considered by many (myself included) as the most reliable go-to horror anthology in the world. To celebrate PS Publishing’s STEPHEN JONES’ THE BEST OF BEST NEW HORROR: VOLUME ONE Review by Trevor Kennedy for Phantasmagoria Magazine. For over thirty years now, the annual Stephen Jones-edited (earlier editions were co-edited with Ramsey Campbell) Best New Horror series has been a staple of the highest quality genre literature around, unsurprisingly including work from the biggest names in the field and considered by many (myself included) as the most reliable go-to horror anthology in the world. To celebrate PS Publishing’s release of The Best of Best New Horror two volume set covering the first twenty years, Phantasmagoria will be taking an in-depth look at each of these bumper collections over the next two issues. First up (obviously), is Volume One: The Best of Best New Horror: Volume One opens with an intense, gripping and unsettling tale from Brian Lumley, “No Sharks in the Med”, a story which concerns a young newly-wed couple celebrating their honeymoon on a Greek island. Despite the reader knowing full well that something unpleasant is going to soon happen to the two, this in no way detracts from its power - or the uncomfortable feeling it exudes - when it inevitably does happen. And, as Ramsey Campbell correctly states in his Introduction to the overall book, there is just the slightest suggestion of the supernatural at the end, in what is an otherwise straight, albeit rather terrifying, thriller. Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Man Who Drew Cats” follows next. A stranger arrives in the small town of Kingston one day, a street artist of sorts, who creates the most vividly realistic drawings of animals imaginable. The man later finds himself caught up in the damaged lives of a young lad named Billy and his mother. I actually reviewed this story just last year when it appeared in another anthology (Terrifying Tales to Tell at Night, also edited Stephen Jones) and at the time I stated that it is one of the greatest I have ever read. I stand by that statement. I also discovered for the first time in this book that this was the first story Marshall Smith ever wrote, a sign of serious quality if ever there was one. This is followed by “The Same in Any Language” by Ramsey Campbell, about a young boy who is dragged away on a Mediterranean holiday by his rather brash father and his (the father’s) new girlfriend to a resort close to a former leper colony. Whilst the spooky stuff is indeed very effective (especially at the climax), what I really enjoyed most about this story was the beautifully observed exchanges between the kid (taken from his POV) and his cringe-worthy dad and partner. You really do feel for the lad and his plight. The fourth story is “Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death” by Christopher Fowler. Stanley Morrison is an official “Hospital Visiting Friend” in London. His private life consists mainly of obsessing unhealthily over post-war British comedians such as Charlie Drake, Hattie Jacques, Tony Hancock and, of course, Norman Wisdom, along with romanticising the era in which they were at their height. Incidentally, Stanley also just happens to be a serial killer, often quite literally boring his victims to death with intricate details of these much-loved entertainers’ films and radio plays. When a young diabetic woman named Saskia is placed into Stanley’s private care, things quickly take an unexpected turn for them both. Quite frankly, this story by Fowler is truly mesmerizing and works on multiple levels. At first an extremely darkly humorous satire which had me genuinely laughing out loud in parts whilst shocking me at the same time, it then descends into a very tragic tale laden with pathos and a reminder that it is not always healthy to look back on the past with rose-tinted spectacles - the “good old days” is quite often a myth, as my own great-grandmother would often tell the members of my family. The real-life tragedies of troubled stars like Tony Hancock are testament to this. I grew up in the 1980s listening to the old radio plays of (Tony) Hancock’s Half Hour, which my father owned on cassette, and watching TV repeats of the Carry On… films and Dad’s Army etc (Norman Wisdom not so much, as I have never been into his slapstick comedy stylings), so this tale very much hit me on a personal level as well (in more ways than one, if I’m honest). An utterly sublime piece by Christopher Fowler that also touches on the mundanity of the lives and personalities of real serial killers like Dennis Nilsen and Peter Sutcliffe, despite the glamorisation of them by the media. “Mefisto in Oynx” by the great Harlan Ellison is a modern classic dealing in no uncertain terms with the dark side of humanity, focusing in on the plight of two men: one a silver-tongued black man in his thirties with a special gift, the other a white guy of similar age on Death Row accused of dozens of brutal murders. Written with more than a touch of class and genius, this is some profoundly powerful stuff from Ellison. Next is “The Temptation of Dr. Stein” by Paul J. McAuley, a wonderfully atmospheric and Gothic take on the Frankenstein legend, set in in an alternate history Venice and featuring a version of Dr. Pretorious who appeared in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). There are shades of H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau in there as well and, for me anyway, you just can’t beat a mad scientist drunk on his own power with godlike delusions - it never ends well! “Queen of Knives” by Neil Gaiman is a deeply puzzling - and beautifully brought to life - poem/story concerning a (very) possibly unreliable narrator revisiting memories of his grandparents and a stage magic act at a Royal Variety-style show. It may very well be intended to be read on face value (according to Gaiman himself in a quote before its publication in this book, it is “true in every detail”), but, like all great art, it is open to so many different interpretations, most, if not all, of them rather dark and bleak (at least in my mind anyway, although to be fair, this is a horror anthology!). For me, that makes it a magic trick in and of itself and one that I will ponder over for quite some time. I don’t want to give the game away for those of you who haven’t read it yet by sharing my own views on what happens, so all I will say is that you should read it for yourself, but make sure to pay close attention - there’s some serious literary sleight of hand going on here! In “The Break” by Terry Lamsley, a young boy named Danny goes on holiday with his grandparents to the British seaside town of Todley Bay, a resort that seems to be peopled mostly by old people. Danny is soon witness to some very odd happenings, including a “bear-like man” pushing a mysterious box along a jetty, a sinister seagull, and something rather unpleasant going on in the hotel where he is staying. What follows is an extremely intense, creepy, surreal experience that plays out like a vivid bad dream. A disorientating and atmospheric affair. Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “Emptiness Spoke Eloquent” is a sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or more specifically the 1992 film version directed by Francis Ford Coppola and follows Mina Harker’s life throughout the decades following the events of the original novel/film. In this dreamlike, finely weaved tale, we join Mina as she deals with the fate of her husband Jonathan and war-torn twentieth century Europe, whilst still haunted by the memory of her old friend Lucy Westenra. The collection (at least in terms of stories) wraps up with the novella “Mr. Chubb and Mr. Cuff” by Peter Straub, set in New York and which details a thoroughly entertaining and bonkers, black humour-filled account of betrayal and revenge. A satire of sorts that really does “go there” at times in a deadpan, matter-of-fact manner that brought to mind the work of the Coen brothers fused with Brett Easton Ellis. Also included is a Foreword by the Editor, an Introduction by Ramsey Campbell, a mini Foreword/Introduction to each story by Stephen Jones and the relevant author, and a fantastic front cover illustration by Norman Saunders. There is an self-explanatory reason why this book is titled The Best of Best New Horror and it really does live up to this promise. A must for genre fans! The Best of Best New Horror: Volume One (and Volume Two) is published by Drugstore Indian Press, an imprint of PS Publishing and is available to purchase from their website, Amazon and other outlets. For more details go to: https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/best-o...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Horror, like comedy, is one of the most personal genres, and what works for one person may leave another completely cold. Generally, I've gotten along very well with Stephen Jones's "Best New Horror" collections--certainly I keep buying them!--but his "best of the best" selections from the previous volumes were more hit-or-miss for me than usual. Also, since the selections proceed chronologically (one story from each volume in the anthology's history), the structure is a little off-balance: I ag Horror, like comedy, is one of the most personal genres, and what works for one person may leave another completely cold. Generally, I've gotten along very well with Stephen Jones's "Best New Horror" collections--certainly I keep buying them!--but his "best of the best" selections from the previous volumes were more hit-or-miss for me than usual. Also, since the selections proceed chronologically (one story from each volume in the anthology's history), the structure is a little off-balance: I agree that the novella is one of the strongest forms of the horror story, but having two or three of them in a row sometimes made for some very odd pacing. That aside, I do keep buying these for a reason. My favorites in this collection were Ramsey Campbell's classic "The Same in Any Language," with its eerie setting and gruesomely perfect punchline; Neil Gaiman's unsettling poem "Queen of Knives"; the beautifully written post-Dracula look at Mina in Caitlin R. Kiernan's "Emptiness Spoke Eloquent"; Peter Straub's "Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff," a funny and disturbing Bartleby-reimaigning that saddles a chilly, controlled businessman with two hired murderers who attach peculiar significance to their work; the atmospheric and exquisitely well-characterized "Devil's Smile," by Glen Hirshberg; Joe Hill's lyrical "20th Century Ghost," about the fears of the living and the dead alike; and Simon Kurt Unsworth's "The Church on the Island," a spectacular example of religious horror, where what you have to do to repel the darkness is almost as terrifying as the darkness itself. Also, Elizabeth Hand's "Cleopatra Brimstone." I don't really know how to describe it. It is wonderful, though. So, as you can see, this was hardly a miss--most of the stories that I left off the "best of" list were still ones that I liked. But I wouldn't recommend this overarching collection as the best place to start reading the series, since Jones's normal anthology structure--not being hemmed in by the year-format--is much more careful and likely to produce a smoother reading experience. Nevertheless, it does make a good recap for the last two decades of horror.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Skuli Saeland

    Sennilega eitt besta hryllings smásagnasafn sem ég hef lesið. Varla feilpúst ólíkt flestum smásagnasöfnum þar sem sögurnar eru af mismunandi gæðum. Reyndar er safnið úr smiðju Stephen Jones sem dregur saman "best of best" úr áratugalangri útgáfu sinni. Það sem gerir hryllingssafn hans þó svo skemmtilegt er að hann reynir að hafa fjölbreytileikan í fyrirrúmi og þarna má finna klassískan gotneskan hrylling innan um nútíma horror þar sem höfundarnir reyna á mörk skynjunar og daglegs lífs til að dra Sennilega eitt besta hryllings smásagnasafn sem ég hef lesið. Varla feilpúst ólíkt flestum smásagnasöfnum þar sem sögurnar eru af mismunandi gæðum. Reyndar er safnið úr smiðju Stephen Jones sem dregur saman "best of best" úr áratugalangri útgáfu sinni. Það sem gerir hryllingssafn hans þó svo skemmtilegt er að hann reynir að hafa fjölbreytileikan í fyrirrúmi og þarna má finna klassískan gotneskan hrylling innan um nútíma horror þar sem höfundarnir reyna á mörk skynjunar og daglegs lífs til að draga fram óþægindahnútinn í maganum.

  8. 4 out of 5

    amanda

    a lot of these stories were great and they’re in my head to this day and introduced me to new authors which i’m forever grateful for. but the majority were lackluster and put me to sleep lol. hit or miss mainly.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    Hard to review a book I've had in progress for 8 years. A good mix of stories with some big names but the stories I enjoyed the most were by authors I hadn't yet read. A nice way to discover some less mainstream authors. Hard to review a book I've had in progress for 8 years. A good mix of stories with some big names but the stories I enjoyed the most were by authors I hadn't yet read. A nice way to discover some less mainstream authors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Clare Rhoden

    Excellent selection of horror stories across a span of 20 years. Hours of enjoyment between these covers!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Almost all great stories :)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dmitry

    Рассказы, которые не стыдно рекомендовать: "Белый"(Тим Леббон), "Мефистофель в Ониксе"(Харлан Эллисон) и "Улыбка дьявола"(Глен Хиршберг), остальное разной степени банальности. Он умер. Бу! Рассказы, которые не стыдно рекомендовать: "Белый"(Тим Леббон), "Мефистофель в Ониксе"(Харлан Эллисон) и "Улыбка дьявола"(Глен Хиршберг), остальное разной степени банальности. Он умер. Бу!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mulberry Street Library

    This book is a placeholder for the Mulberry Street Library Book Discussion Group, Tuesday, November 10, 2020! This will be an Open Genre Book Discussion with the theme of Horror. The discussion will take place ONLINE between 6-7:00pm. Please register through the event listing on the Mulberry Street Library page at the NYPL website. We will then be able to send you a link to the discussion about one day before it happens. The Mulberry Street Library is now open for "Grab and Go" service only. You ma This book is a placeholder for the Mulberry Street Library Book Discussion Group, Tuesday, November 10, 2020! This will be an Open Genre Book Discussion with the theme of Horror. The discussion will take place ONLINE between 6-7:00pm. Please register through the event listing on the Mulberry Street Library page at the NYPL website. We will then be able to send you a link to the discussion about one day before it happens. The Mulberry Street Library is now open for "Grab and Go" service only. You may be able to reserve and check out a copy of the book at Mulberry Street and some other branches. However, the Mulberry Street Library staff recommends that you search the online catalog for an e-book or e-audiobook version.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    I like to read Horror books any time of the year, but right now, close to Halloween is the best time. These twenty short horror stories were the best of the Mammoth book of best new horror. Out of the twenty stories, I only really liked five of them. The rest were just OK, in my opinion. The ones I liked were: White by Tim Lebbon (It was an intriguing story...started out with some gruesome-ness right away. Even though we don't find out exactly what the beings were in this story, it was still a goo I like to read Horror books any time of the year, but right now, close to Halloween is the best time. These twenty short horror stories were the best of the Mammoth book of best new horror. Out of the twenty stories, I only really liked five of them. The rest were just OK, in my opinion. The ones I liked were: White by Tim Lebbon (It was an intriguing story...started out with some gruesome-ness right away. Even though we don't find out exactly what the beings were in this story, it was still a good, fast read. I actually think the mystery to it makes it creepier.) 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (I had read this story before in a different anthology of the same title. I liked it then and I like now. Who doesn't love a good ghost story anyway? Obviously, Joe Hill received the gift of writing from his dad, Stephen King {for those of you who don't know that already}. The White Hands by Mark Samuels (This one was more of a back-in-the-day gothic horror and I enjoyed it. It takes place near Highgate Cemetery in London. The main character is compelled by something supernatural and ends up in the looney bin because of it.) Haeckel's Tale by Clive Barker (Wow, this story! It was my favorite of the five that I really liked. I have to admit, this is the first piece of work I have ever read by Clive Barker and I wasn't, at all, disappointed. I kind of knew I wouldn't be because I like his movies, Hellraiser and Nightbreed, among others. I am interested in reading more of his books now!) The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates by Stephen King (Another ghostly tale in which Stephen King just jumps right in at the beginning. Which made this short story complete without feeling like anything was missing.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Well, okay, I didn't actually read it because I'm going to start working my backwards through the various MBOBNH, slowly, no doubt, after I finish this year's. I did all of Wagner's Year's Best Horror (save one, still waiting in the pile), so why read the stories here when I'll read them there? So I didn't read it or even buy it, I got a (battered) copy from I.L.L. What I did do was read everything else. It's all very interesting. The battles over tacky covers, the battles over censorship, the va Well, okay, I didn't actually read it because I'm going to start working my backwards through the various MBOBNH, slowly, no doubt, after I finish this year's. I did all of Wagner's Year's Best Horror (save one, still waiting in the pile), so why read the stories here when I'll read them there? So I didn't read it or even buy it, I got a (battered) copy from I.L.L. What I did do was read everything else. It's all very interesting. The battles over tacky covers, the battles over censorship, the vague hints about other issues (so, anyone know who the author was that got two stories into one volume by submitting under a pseudonym?). I like that Jones' outlined the various issues he began to tackle in earnest at the end of each year's "Year In" section. And I appreciated finally getting some clarification of just what the intention of BEST NEW HORROR is - not that the explication is remarkably clear (it's not the absolute BEST NEW HORROR on offer every year, just his picks for the BEST examples of VARIETY of NEW HORROR - oh, I see....) but I did kind of get it after musing a bit. And who knew that you could actually submit previously published stories from that year for consideration? I assumed they (and honestly, I assume it is a "they", no way is Jones reading all those synopsized novels run-down in the "Year In" section) just trawled through the major markets themselves. Interesting. So, obviously, I can't rate this book as I didn't properly read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Breanna

    This collection contains 20 short stories (from 1989 to 2008) 1 story for each year, and a different author for each tale. Overall, I would say this book is worth a read if you're a fan of horrors and thrillers. But there were quite a few stories that were let downs for me, I didn't find them enjoyable in the least. Then there were others that were a little better (but still not very scary). And then there were a few gems that I found to be brilliant. But don't let my semi-harsh critique of this This collection contains 20 short stories (from 1989 to 2008) 1 story for each year, and a different author for each tale. Overall, I would say this book is worth a read if you're a fan of horrors and thrillers. But there were quite a few stories that were let downs for me, I didn't find them enjoyable in the least. Then there were others that were a little better (but still not very scary). And then there were a few gems that I found to be brilliant. But don't let my semi-harsh critique of this collection of short stories stop you from reading it. I have no doubt that some stories I detested will be highly enjoyable to someone else (that's the beauty of literature isn't it?)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    An interesting anthology where a few tales fare better than others. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Clive Braker are (as expected) the highlights of the book. "Mephisto in Onix" and "20th Century Ghosts" made me very interested in checking other stuff from Harlan Ellison and Joe Hill. Truly great stuff. However, a few weak stories ("No Sharks in the Med" is like a sub-par slasher flick and "White"'s plot has been done better by other authors) scattered throughout the book and the sense that most o An interesting anthology where a few tales fare better than others. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Clive Braker are (as expected) the highlights of the book. "Mephisto in Onix" and "20th Century Ghosts" made me very interested in checking other stuff from Harlan Ellison and Joe Hill. Truly great stuff. However, a few weak stories ("No Sharks in the Med" is like a sub-par slasher flick and "White"'s plot has been done better by other authors) scattered throughout the book and the sense that most of them can barely be considered horror seriously hurts this compilation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kerrie Woods

    This is a good holiday book - lots of little stories, some better than others. Highlights include a good re-working of Bartleby the Scrivener for any Melville fans; as well as a long poem / story by Neil Gaiman, which is refreshingly different, unexpected and puzzling (swoon! We love Gaiman, he's a ledge). I'm home from Barca now and can't be bothered to finish it,so it is destined for the shelf for now. This is a good holiday book - lots of little stories, some better than others. Highlights include a good re-working of Bartleby the Scrivener for any Melville fans; as well as a long poem / story by Neil Gaiman, which is refreshingly different, unexpected and puzzling (swoon! We love Gaiman, he's a ledge). I'm home from Barca now and can't be bothered to finish it,so it is destined for the shelf for now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Honestly, if these are the best stories that Best New Horror could come up with, then I'd really hate to see the other stories in the volumes. It's fairly clear that most of the authors were saving up their good work for things they would actually want to be published. Even authors I really liked, really wrote bad stories in this. Honestly, if these are the best stories that Best New Horror could come up with, then I'd really hate to see the other stories in the volumes. It's fairly clear that most of the authors were saving up their good work for things they would actually want to be published. Even authors I really liked, really wrote bad stories in this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dmitry Verkhoturov

    Большой сборник с разноплановыми и разножанровыми, но держащими одинаково высокую планку рассказами. Рекомендую хорошую рецензию в Горьком. Большой сборник с разноплановыми и разножанровыми, но держащими одинаково высокую планку рассказами. Рекомендую хорошую рецензию в Горьком.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Jennings

    This collection contains some interesting and often some clever stories. If you expect modern (commercial) horror then you may be disappointed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Darren Phasey

    Great book. A culmination of the best twenty stories from each volume from the past twenty years. Something here for every horror fan.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Excellent collection of stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elena

  25. 5 out of 5

    Raomer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nate

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