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The Best Horror of the Year Volume 4 Paperback – May 1, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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About the Author

ELLEN DATLOW is a winner of nine World Fantasy Awards, two Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, five Hugo Awards, and four Locus Awards. She has been the fiction editor of Omni and Scifi.com and has edited many successful anthologies, including The DarkThe Coyote RoadInferno, and The Year&s Best Horror. Datlow has also coedited Haunted Legends, The Year&s Best Fantasy and Horror series, The Faery ReelA Wolf at the Door, and Swan Sister, among many others. She lives in Manhattan.


Product Details

  • Series: Best Horror of the Year (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; 4 edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597803995
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597803991
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Book Info: Genre: Anthology: Horror Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free eGalley - eBook uncorrected proof/ARC - in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: The first three volumes of The Best Horror of the Year from Nightshade books have been widely praised for their quality, variety, and comprehensiveness.

Now, for the fourth consecutive year, editor Ellen Datlow, winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, has explored the entirety of the diverse horror market, distilling it into the fourth anthology in the series and providing an overview of the year in terror. With tales from Laird Barron, Stephen King, John Langan, Peter Straub, and many others, and featuring Datlow's comprehensive overview of the year in horror, now, more than ever, The Best Horror of the Year provides the petrifying horror fiction readers have come to expect-and enjoy.

Fear is the oldest human emotion. The most primal. We like to think we're civilized. We tell ourselves we're not afraid. And every year, we skim our fingers across nightmares, desperately pitting our courage against shivering dread.

A paraplegic millionaire hires a priest to exorcise his pain; a failing marriage is put to the ultimate test; hunters become the hunted as a small group of men ventures deep into a forest; a psychic struggles for her life on national television; a soldier strikes a grisly bargain with his sister's killer; ravens answer a child's wish for magic; two mercenaries accept a strangely simplistic assignment; a desperate woman in an occupied land makes a terrible choice...

What scares you? What frightens you? Horror wears new faces in these carefully selected stories. The details may change. But the fear remains.
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This is Ellen Datlow's fourth time editing Best Horror of the Year for Night Shade Books. This edition is the best so far, combining potent, ambitious longer works by genre stars with a varied sampler of up and coming names. Eighteen stories (including several novellas) follow Datlow's lengthy introduction, a wide-ranging summary of the genre year touching on noteworthy novels, anthologies, collections, periodicals, awards and events. If the tasting menu of the year's finest short fiction weren't enough to make the volume an essential overview of all things noteworthy in the horror genre, this overview tips the balance. This makes an excellent introduction to talented new writers, as well as others more established who may yet be unfamiliar to a given reader.

For example, I knew David Nickel and Brian Hodge by name, but hadn't read their works, which turned out to constitute pleasant revelations. In Nickle's "Looker," a drunk man at a party finds a woman whose qualities go beyond the merely eye-pleasing. In "Roots and All," Hodge's character revisits a town where important childhood events occurred, some of which still echo in the present. Both stories exemplify Datlow's preference for character-driven horror, more haunting mood and troubling memory than blood and shrieking monsters. There are several more standouts:

"Blackwood's Baby," like many Laird Barron stories, takes place in rural Washington state, and expands upon Barron's personal, regional mythos. This novella tracks a 1930s expedition of diverse hunters seeking a beast of legend more dangerous than any of them anticipate. It's as powerful as any previous work by Barron, who lately can be counted upon to contribute at least one rich and potent tale to each year's best.
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Ellen Datlow accused me of being overly snarky the last time I reviewed one of these things, so this year, I'm starting off by saying something nice: It's good to see that Datlow's back. Small presses have a reputation for unsteadiness, and last year, there were ominous Internet rumblings and grumblings about Night Shade Books. But Night Shade is still publishing, the books are still rolling out, and Datlow is still performing her invaluable service to horror fans. Though my notion of "best" may run contrary to hers at times, Datlow captures a snapshot every year of where the genre is at and where it might be headed, making her annuals required reading for those in their fright minds.

Datlow went big name hunting in 2011 and bagged two titans for her bookends. Volume 4 kicks off with horror's most popular author and ends with arguably its best.

As bad as he can be, Stephen King is a difficult author to consign to the Dean Koontz Memorial Slagheap of Authors I Used to Give a Crap About. Despite his flirtations with lazy, going-through-the-motions hackery, King has left himself open to an inspiration that strikes less often these days, but when it does, he becomes fully engaged and tackles that idea like the pre-jillionaire hungry young author who became such a phenomenon. That's why I keep buying Stephen King books: That young man is still lurking somewhere in the shadows of the brand name, and he's the one I come to see. The inspiration for "The Little Green God of Agony," King's first "Best Horror" entry, may have come from his personal experiences with a broken body and knitting bones. The sixth-richest man in the world is looking for a shortcut through the pain of physical rehab to recovery from a plane crash that left him shattered. He summons the Rev.
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