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Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 1 Paperback – October 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Best Horror of the Year (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597801615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801614
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. After 22 years of pulling the horror content for the now-discontinued Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series, Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound) goes solo with this stellar start to a new best of annual. As in the past, her picks confirm that horror is a storytelling approach with endlessly inventive possibilities. In E. Michael Lewis's Cargo, a haunting Twilight Zone–type tale, an airplane picks up something otherworldly as part of its latest transport. Euan Harvey's creepy Harry and the Monkey turns an urban legend into reality. R.B. Russell's Loup-garou is a highly original shape-shifter story with a subtle psychological twist, and Daniel LeMoal's Beach Head a bracing conte cruel with a Lord of the Flies cast. In addition to the richly varied stories, Datlow provides her usual comprehensive coverage of the year in horror in an introduction that's indispensable reading for horror aficionados. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

During a prolific editorial career, Datlow has published many colorful thematic collections of horror. Until now, though, she has never put her stamp on a best-of-the-year horror anthology. True to her expansive vision, this inaugural volume of a projected annual series casts a wide net over the genre’s many outlets, from magazines and single-author collections to webzines and literary journals. It opens with Datlow’s own comprehensive overview of genre highlights and trends, then offers a smorgasbord of creative voices in 21 tales and poems. E. Michael Lewis’ unsettling “Cargo” eavesdrops on the duties of a military cargo plane’s loadmaster as he chaperones the restless coffins being shipped from Jonestown after the infamous mass suicide. Steve Duffy’s “The Clay Party” provides outstanding period detail in a pioneer woman’s account of a werewolf-plagued wagon train in 1846. There are stories about strange finds in a book depository, a Wisconsin town besieged by a legendary monster, and a grown-up Hansel returning to the witch’s house. Datlow delivers the gold again with a first rate compilation. --Carl Hays

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Customer Reviews

They don't even go for the easy grossout.
jonathan briggs
If this is the year's best horror, I guess it wasn't a very good year.
The others are lame, boring, poorly written, and just not good.
Kevin E. Ham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Polson on October 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third year I've picked up Ellen Datlow's Best of the Year--the first year in which the book is solely dedicated to dark fiction (and soley edited by Datlow--previous incarnations split 50/50 fantasy and horror). As with any anthology, some pieces didn't work for me. I didn't finish "If Angels Fight" by Richard Bowes. Not my style, a little slow. But there is variety in this collection, truly a "year's best" with no outright clunkers.

Some of my favorites include:

"Beach Head" by Daniel LeMoal--the first piece since god-knows-when that inspired a physical fear response from page one. The set up: three smugglers with hands tied are buried to their neck on a sandy beach. It only goes creepier from there. While the prose isn't always razor sharp, the effect is. I felt like I was suffocating while I read.

"The Hodag" by Trent Hergenrader affected me in a different, more nostalgic way. It is a tale that spans decades, and the narrator's chilling realization in the final paragraphs is more frightening than the Hodag itself. "The Hodag" is the kind of story I would write if I could write better. It's a goal.

"The Lagerstatte" by Laird, I hope to write 1/10th as well as Mr. Barron some day. The premise of "The Lagerstatte" is a little familiar, but his skill with language paints said premise with a deftness rivaling any short fiction author today.

As a reader, this is the type of horror literature I like to see: high quality, thoughtful prose, solid character development, and dark without leaning on schlock and gore. As a fledgling author, the stories in this book provide a model, a goal for my own work. "Here's how you do it." Best Horror of the Year is smart writing, regardless of genre.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's important to start with what this volume is not. It's not a collection of a particular type of horror story; Datlow's taste, while tending toward the subtle over the blatant, is wide-ranging, and includes stories traditional and modern (to the extent that these labels are useful), long and short, serious and comic. Some are closer to dark fantasy than "horror" as some readers narrowly define it. This book is also not necessarily cued to your specific tastes. Datlow has not magically reached into your head and selected nineteen stories and two poems that you are guaranteed to love. Cover copy notwithstanding, Ellen Datlow does not know what scares you personally. To say that a book is "not for everyone" is often a form of back-handed criticism, but here it's just a fact.

With that out of the way, I can say what this book is: a collection of fine stories displaying the scope of the modern horror story. I can't say that I unreservedly admired all of the stories here, but I respected each one's craft. A new anthology edited by Datlow is a guaranteed purchase for me, and the reason I keep coming back is that I never find a story whose appeal utterly baffles me. Sometimes I don't find them as successful as they might be, but I never think "What the heck was ~that~ doing in this book?"

I'll highlight a few stories I particularly admired. Margaret Ronald's "When the Gentlemen Go By" is a brief, chilling story about a small town and the price it pays for its happiness. Again, traditional-sounding stuff, but the story's structure allows it to build to maximum effect, and there are a number of chilling moments along the way. It's also an interesting contrast with "The Hodag," a very different but equally effective small-town horror story elsewhere in the volume.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jonathan briggs on July 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Indie outfit Night Shade Books swooped to the rescue after bigger publisher St. Martin's scuttled Ellen Datlow's long-running annual anthology of the best horror fiction. Although it's good to have the venerable editor still at work culling the good stuff, the inaugural volume of this series reboot is wobbly on its newborn feet. It's not that the stories are particularly objectionable. But for the most part, they're not exceptional either. What makes them the "best" horror of 2008? They're not scary or unsettling. They're not thought-provoking. They don't push boundaries. They don't even go for the easy grossout. I suppose "Adequate Horror of the Year" wouldn't sell very well, but it would be a more accurate title.

Datlow starts the book with her traditional summary of the previous year. Kudos to her for doing it with far less whining and far fewer typos than her fellow editor Gardner Dozois in his science fiction "best of" annuals.

The Table of Contents features a list of mostly unfamiliar names. The most prominent participant is probably Joe Lansdale who turns in a two-page scrap, a piffle, likely one of his "popcorn dreams" (Lansdale transcribes the nightmares he always has after eating popcorn). Even among that goofy company, "It Washed Up" is lightweight, and I suspect it was included more for marquee value than merit.

Among the rest of the crew: Richard Bowes writes his standard dreary story of how gay and haunted he is. Steve Duffy's "The Clay Party" adds a few twists to that wheezy cliche of the predator stalking the helpless woman only to find out in the shocking twist ending that she's really a vampire/werewolf/insert theme-anthology monster here. And guess what? It's still a wheezy cliche.
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