Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Four, edited by Ellen Datlow. Night Shade Books, 2012

This is as good a collection of horror as you’re going to get. The book starts with Stephen King and ends with Peter Straub, and the authors in between are no slouches, either. There was only one story I didn’t like (Straub’s ‘The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine’) and that’s not because it’s a bad story; it’s just not a style I care for.

The stories are all over the map in terms of style; Margo Lanagan’s ‘Mulberry Boys’ is set in a sort of alternate world, a sort of fantasy/horror cross; Littlewood’s ‘Black Feathers’ rather reminded me of Bradbury; Laird Barron’s story put me in mind of Algernon Blackwood and I don’t think that was just because the name of the story is ‘Blackwood’s Baby’. Some are set in cities; some in the remote woods. This collection shows us horror in every setting. The one that I found the most unsettling was ‘The Moraine’ by Simon Bestwick, where a husband and wife get trapped on a mountainside by heavy fog, only to discover that it’s not just the exposure to cold they need to worry about. The horror in that one comes from a direction that one would never think of and, yes, we do have areas of moraine on the hill on the back of the property…

It’s not often I find an anthology that is so even in quality all the way through. I highly recommend this one! 

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