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Year's Best Hardcore Horror Volume 3 Paperback – May 4, 2018
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The Maw - by Nathan Ballingrud, master of atmosphere and emotion.
West of Matamoros, North of Hell - by Brian Hodge, who paints the darkest picture.
Foreign Bodies - by Adam Howe, who puts humor in all the right places.
The Dogs - by Scott Smith. If you go home with someone and they have dogs, make a dash for the night table. Trust me.
The stories are not only unique, but also very vivid. The authors have done an outstanding job at painting horrors with their words. From the burning of skin and breaking of bones, to the human monstrosity in "Til Death,” everything is so clear you can actually see it. I'll admit that there were some parts in this book so horrid, I skimmed over the text as if to look away!
Though they are all incredible stories, my personal favorites have to be the letter stories, particularly "Bernadette.” The fact that these stories are written as letters make them so much spookier. Reading "Bernadette" felt like reading something that was actually written in medieval Spain. It left me wondering whatever happened to the priest, his brother, and Bernadette.
As with most collections, there are some here that I liked more than others, but the hit to miss ratio in this entire series is extremely high.
I will never tell you which ones I didn’t care for because everybody’s tastes are different, but I will tell you that my favorites in Volume 3 were the animal themed “Foreign Bodies” by Adam Howe and “The Dogs” by Scott Smith.
Now, go get you some Year’s Best Hardcore Horror. You can’t go wrong with any of the series so far.
There are some standout stories I'm glad this book introduced me to. I really can't say enough about The Better Part of Drowning by Octavia Cade. I'm a sucker for horror by the sea, decaying cities, underground societies and this had it all plus sugar crabs.
So Sings the Siren shows how you can do a lot with a very little, with word count, plot and POV. It's only a few pages and unlike some of the more explicit oferings, a lot of the horror comes from what you and the main character aren't allowed to see.
Overall my favorite thing about this book is the consistent and wonderful sense of place each of the stories has. The apocalyptic stories like Ballingrud's The Maw and Waggoner's Til Death (both excellent!) laid out the end of the world in sick and vivid ways I've never seen before, the fantastic city of The Better Part of Drowning was fresh and strange, and even the stories that took place in a so-called ordinary, everyday world had a really physical presence and all the everyday places that horror can hide.
If Amazon did half stars I might take off half of one just because there were a couple entries that were surprisingly flat and dull in light of the terrifying imagination of the others. Letter From Hell was predictable and a little flat, and while a lot of the writing in Reprising Her Role was great the whole thing was rushed to the point where it didn't immerse me the way the others did.
And, of course, every single one was "hardcore" - body horror, cannibalism, rape, torture, sadism, poverty, puke, snuff, zombies, it's all here!