free hit counter code The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six

Availability: Ready to download

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —H. P. Lovecraft This statement was true when H. P. Lovecraft first wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains true at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The only thing that has changed is what is unknown. With each passing y “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —H. P. Lovecraft This statement was true when H. P. Lovecraft first wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains true at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The only thing that has changed is what is unknown. With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this “light” creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow, chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness, as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers. The best horror writers of today do the same thing that horror writers of a hundred years ago did. They tell good stories—stories that scare us. And when these writers tell really good stories that really scare us, Ellen Datlow notices. She’s been noticing for more than a quarter century. For twenty-one years, she coedited The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and for the last six years, she’s edited this series. In addition to this monumental cataloging of the best, she has edited hundreds of other horror anthologies and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards. More than any other editor or critic, Ellen Datlow has charted the shadowy abyss of horror fiction. Join her on this journey into the dark parts of the human heart . . . either for the first time . . . or once again. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.


Compare
Ads Banner

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —H. P. Lovecraft This statement was true when H. P. Lovecraft first wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains true at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The only thing that has changed is what is unknown. With each passing y “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —H. P. Lovecraft This statement was true when H. P. Lovecraft first wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains true at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The only thing that has changed is what is unknown. With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this “light” creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow, chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness, as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers. The best horror writers of today do the same thing that horror writers of a hundred years ago did. They tell good stories—stories that scare us. And when these writers tell really good stories that really scare us, Ellen Datlow notices. She’s been noticing for more than a quarter century. For twenty-one years, she coedited The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and for the last six years, she’s edited this series. In addition to this monumental cataloging of the best, she has edited hundreds of other horror anthologies and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards. More than any other editor or critic, Ellen Datlow has charted the shadowy abyss of horror fiction. Join her on this journey into the dark parts of the human heart . . . either for the first time . . . or once again. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    Well, I'm rapidly approaching the end of my previous reading list and will soon be plunging into my next one (newly retooled with expanded categories) which should, by a rough estimation, take me about 2 years or a bit longer to cycle through. So here I am mopping up the most recent of the big two "year's best" - having just finished Best New Horror: Volume 25, here's the complimentary volume in the annual publishing ritual.... Experientially, I enjoyed this more than Jones' volume (some side com Well, I'm rapidly approaching the end of my previous reading list and will soon be plunging into my next one (newly retooled with expanded categories) which should, by a rough estimation, take me about 2 years or a bit longer to cycle through. So here I am mopping up the most recent of the big two "year's best" - having just finished Best New Horror: Volume 25, here's the complimentary volume in the annual publishing ritual.... Experientially, I enjoyed this more than Jones' volume (some side comments in Datlow's opening "Summation" lead me to believe we may share some more subtle definitions of genre), but toting up the "grades", it ends up at about the same place, when all's said and done. Repeat after me - anthologies, editor's tastes, varied quality, subjectivity... etc. And, my usual statement of structure for this and all anthology reviews: least engaging to most engaging. As is my wont, I skipped the poetry so no comment from me on "Introduction To The Body In Fairy Tales" by Jeannine Hall Gailey. This volume shares a story with Jone's collection - a story I didn't like then and didn't reread now, so here's a re-purposing of my previous review of "Stemming The Tide" by Simon Strantzas, which I found thuddingly obvious (more so because the main character actually voices the metaphorical implications of the story's scenario in which the dead periodically rise from the sea for no good reason except to be a metaphor - and even more so because there's not much, if any, actual story told through which the metaphor could naturally flow). Honestly, at most there's an image and a setting/scenario standing in for a full story. Eh. Much like the short Clive Barker piece in the Jones' volume, here we get a slim trifle from Neil Gaiman - "Down To A Sunless Sea" - and, you can quote Coleridge in the title all you want but that doesn't mean this barely developed scene featuring a mother distraught over the fate of her castaway son (cannibalism on the open ocean) is actually a developed story - I have no doubt that, like the Barker piece mentioned, it was included simply to cash in on the author's audience. I started "The Soul In The Bell Jar" by KJ Kabza but didn't finish it due to an admitted personal bias. The piece starts fine as a ripe piece of Victorian-era Gothic, a daughter abandoned by her parents arriving at the gloomy, sprawling mansion of her notorious crazed mad-scientist uncle but, sadly, the story takes place in some steampunkish alternate reality where "souls"can be surgically stitched back onto corpses, or even different corpses, to enable a form of revivification - and this is not some mad-science breakthrough of the Uncle's but an accepted scientific art (although the Uncle is pushing the limits) in a world with a decidedly different religious history. Sorry, but that's just not my bag - too far from reality for me to suspend disbelief - and I threw in the towel after the effective start suddenly lurched into overdrive to begin rushing towards the ending. YMMV. Steve Rasnic Tem's work has never really clicked with me, and his piece here - "The Monster Makers" - is a similarly abstracted (if solidly written) piece in which a Grandfather attempts to reign in his two monstrous grandchildren who have the power to distort reality on a whim... or something like that. It didn't really hang together for me as a story. Finally, in the "okay" category, we have "The Tin House" by Simon Clark - one of those stories that's perfectly fine for what it is, a run of the mill horror story, but perplexes when it shows up in a "Year's Best" collection. A cop investigating a disappearance from the titular location discovers an old evil within the walls. The central concept is the usual bog-standard "sins of the past revisited" (in this case, slavery) embodied in one of those gruesomely physical ways that seems more like something from a horror comic book that anything from real life and I guess that fits because the ending is all TALES FROM THE CRYPT retribution. Now, I have room for that kind of stuff when done well (and by that I *don't* mean the lazy cliche of "reinvented in an interesting way") but this was just the usual, wrapped up in some fine but also clunky and inelegant writing. Disappointingly old-school (and, again, I say that as someone who *likes* old school). Next up are the stories that mostly work but have some kind of flaw or mitigating factor in their success. "The House On Cobb Street" by Lynda E. Rucker is an interesting haunted house tale, assembled from blog posts, newspaper reports and a first person narrative from a now vanished occupant. This is well-written and the idea is fairly well-handled although I wish the author could have been more deft in getting the inventive concept (how the haunting "works") across to the reader without blatantly stating it. Steve Toase's "Call Out" is a simple monster story in which a rural veterinarian is lured into a trap involving a folkloric beast. Well-written and suspenseful but a detail in the ending kind of rankled, considering the situation was based on the character being trapped. "Bones Of Crow" by Ray Cluley is another monster story, this one in an urban setting as a defeated young woman, tending to her dying father in his dismal tower-block apartment, encounters monstrous birds on the building's roof. The added element to make it something more of a story is psychological, which works partly but the ending felt a bit easy. Similarly, Jane Jakeman's "Majorlena" - a short monster story set during the Iraq war featuring ambushed soldiers being preyed on by something awful - works because of its stripped down nature - but with little added element all you get is an okay monster story. I was quite digging the echoes of de Maupassant's interrogation of fetishism in Priya Sharma's "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" - in which a hand fetishist's dreams are fulfilled - until the story reached the (seeing a pattern yet?) bit too "on the money"/ "lurid horror story" ending, which undid some of the delicate build-up. "The Withering" by Tim Casson has a lot going for it - a historical setting (America in the 1890s) and good understanding of the characteristics and mores of the time, just to name two - but its story of a female scientist using her father's invention to speak to the dead and solve crimes has an oddly self-cancelling quality to it, as failure is the only achievement, and that feels doubly odd as it seems intended to set-up a series character. Oddly unsatisfying. Similarly, Laird Barron's "The Jaws Of Saturn" has a great set-up, as a tough-guy bodyguard decides to rough-up an aging hypnotist/magician who's been spending time with his girl, only to discover the magician is the real deal. There's some very effective cosmic horror here as the main character plunges into well-described, maddening hallucinations - and Barron excels at sketching real world, lived-in characters and settings with efficient gestures - but the downward spiral trajectory of the plot - while true to the genre - ultimately felt unsatisfying. Next up are the solidly "good" stories by my estimation. Stephen Bacon's "Apports" has a man intent on revenge track down a suicide survivor (who killed in innocent in his attempt) to find him living in squalor and tortured by ghostly phenomena. What starts as a nasty ghost story with no actual incident ends as a story of damnation and redemption. "Fine In The Fire" by Lee Thomas has a younger brother discover the dark secret that his older brother has endured over the years in service of their father's need for conformity. Such awful things still happen every day, sadly and this piece of quasi-psychological horror, while perhaps the slightest bit too long relative to the payoff, does an excellent job illustrating what some people endure in the name of all that is good and right and Christian. Linda Nagata's "Halfway Home" starts with a passenger jet ditching in the Pacific Ocean but what starts as a survival horror tale develops into a story about greater responsibilities to the whole of mankind as an athletic, proactive young woman rescues two of her fellow passengers only to find them all doomed for a worse fate. An efficient, cruel little thriller. I liked Derek Kunsken's story "The Dog's Paw" (when it passed through my submissions process last year) so much that I bought it for the Pseudopod broadcast (it can be heard here) and was happy to see it here, getting the recognition it deserves. A diplomatic functionary in an Arabic country has to deal with a minor, transformative miracle while also attending to the aftermath of an honor killing. Good stuff. "The Good Husband" by Nathan Ballingrud starts on a grim note as a husband, exhausted by his depressed wife's unending suicide attempts, finally decides to let her succeed - only to have her turn up the next morning at the breakfast table - although not unscathed. What follows is a tale of love and necrophilia and I appreciated that this well-written, well-thought-out story took a thoroughly *human* approach to its characters. Some male writers would have made the focus the husband's grief, exhaustion and stress at the wife's pre-story actions. Some female writers would have focused on the wife's transformation and the husband's choice as displaying the deep-seated sexist roots of their relationship in which she was only an object that he owned. Instead, we get a thoroughly *human* author who maturely treats both characters with understanding and honesty, allowing us to experience the various aspects that the plot uncovers on our own, not led by an agended hand. The wife's slow-motion devolution into passive death puts to shame much modern zombie writing, it should be said (and here without many of the violent crutches of that subgenre). Brian Hodge, in "The Same Deep Waters As You" has a tv-star "animal whisperer"/animal communications expert (more of a preternatural "gift" than a skill) drafted by Homeland Security to help them attend to a long-lived problem kept deeply secret for decades. It seems they've been warehousing a population on a prison island, a colony of the degenerate inhabitants of a New England seaport town that was raided by the FBI back in the twenties. This population doesn't age and, now, seems to be evidencing some renewed vigor after years of torpor. While it's the usual modern take on Lovecraftian themes and not particularly profound or ambitious in its treatment of the material, the story is still solid and well-told. "That Tiny Flutter Of The Heart I Used To Call Love" by Robert Shearman is a powerful and disturbing portrait of psychological horror - of an obsessive and quasi-incestuous ritual between siblings that manifests itself in the execution of dolls, and the imprinting of this habit as it affects the girl into her adulthood and marriage. Not only a deft portrait of the mental imbalance of the idle rich, this also features some nicely subtle commentary on the damaging normalization of the costs of war in western culture. Dale Bailey's "Mr. Splitfoot" treats us to the deathbed reminiscing of Maggie Fox (one of the two girls who began the Spiritualism craze of the 1800s with her toe-cracking abilities) as she reflects on a life of fraud and fame and regret - and the awful supernatural truth that she and her sister experienced behind the facade. This reminded me a bit of Joyce Carol Oates "The Night-Side". Finally, the three best stories in the collection, by my tastes. "The Only Ending We Have" by Kim Newman is much in the vein of the author's previous "Illimitable Dominion" (which posited an alternate world in which Roger Corman/Hollywood's mass-mediuming of Edgar Allan Poe's worldview to the AIP/Beach Movie crowd changed history) - that is to say, a deliberate interrogation of horror's resonance through pop-culture. Here, we're given a scenario in which a body-double actress (having just completed filming of a famous scene in a now well-known horror film) flees the set in disgust and frustration with her domineering director, taking along the only copy of that pivotal scene. Her theft puts her on the run, plunging into a rain-soaked road journey through suspense and darkness that ends at a collapsing seaside motel run by a lonely, strange young man and his hated mother.... At this point, one could write a tidy monograph on short horror fiction based on the actors, directors and general cultural influence of horror films (see my recent review of "Whitstable" by Stephen Volk in Best New Horror: Volume 25, or Joe Hill's non-genre, non-horror "Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead" from his 20th Century Ghosts for just two examples, there are many more) and I generally feel trepidation when starting such a story for two reasons: one is my worry that we'll be treated to either a hagiography or a hatchet job - or perhaps just a clumsy reduction - of real people who lived in the real world and were all more complex than any short form can encompass. Secondly is my growing awareness that meta-horror fiction's secret trap is the author forgetting to actually make it a horror story while being all smug and referential - and this seems even more likely for a story anchored in the real world (which arguably limits the fictional options somewhat). But here, Newman cannily and inventively composes a story not so much around PSYCHO itself but instead exploring the whole mid-50s Hitchockian milieu, brimming with all the signifiers. Perhaps the slightest bit ripe in spots (you get the expected playful placing of film titles and resonant iconography into the text), this also features some very deep-level Hitchcockian references (AHP episode details) and, most enjoyably, a wonderfully paranoid expansion of the "Hitchcock cameo" conceit into suspenseful noir/stalking territory. More impressive still is Newman's conjuring of the whole seedy/paranoid/homicidal worldview of Hitchock/Noir at the time - everyone and everything is potentially corrupt and suspect, exploiter or exploited, every object a weapon, every setting a trap - suffusing the atmosphere that permeates the piece. The seedy aspect is accentuated through an unflinching presentation of the psychological, psychosexual and misogynistic drives underpinning the films and the era, manifest in language and jokes and career options. An impressive story. "The Fox" by Conrad Williams features a family camping excursion in the late-autumn gone wrong as the father senses something amiss with the appearance of dead chickens and dead foxes in the snow. Nature as malignant background is well-deployed here to generate suspense, with some very sharp attention to real-world detail and slowly creeping atmosphere, spiced with psychological insight, that builds to a very Daphne du Maurier-like ending. Excellent work. Finally, "The Tiger" by Nina Allan confidently uses one of the genres most slippery and dangerous tools, ambiguity, to greatly impressive effect. An ex-convict (who may or may not have raped and murdered a girl - he's not sure himself) finds adjusting to life in the real world extremely difficult. There are many ways to use ambiguity in horror and the approach chosen here - ambiguity of character - is extremely well-considered, playing on our feelings of empathy and suspicion through use of stressful detail or off-kilter, oddly turned phrases and thoughts. A haunting piece. And that is, as they say... it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    When it comes to the annual 'Best of' anthologies, Jonathan Strahan may be the editorial King (especially in recent years) of sci-fi and fantasy, but Ellen Datlow is the undisputed Queen of horror. That brings us to The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 6, which is scheduled to hit the shelves early next month. The anthology begins with her usual summation on selection, awards, and notable novels, magazines, stories, anthologies, collections, and more. If you ever wondered just what an editor has t When it comes to the annual 'Best of' anthologies, Jonathan Strahan may be the editorial King (especially in recent years) of sci-fi and fantasy, but Ellen Datlow is the undisputed Queen of horror. That brings us to The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 6, which is scheduled to hit the shelves early next month. The anthology begins with her usual summation on selection, awards, and notable novels, magazines, stories, anthologies, collections, and more. If you ever wondered just what an editor has to go through to put together an anthology like this, or wondered just how much reading they might have to do, then gaze in awe and wonder at the wealth of material she had to read to get to this point. It's staggering. With 24 pieces from different authors clocking in at anywhere from 1,100 to 15,800 words, there's a lot to read here. My approach to these kinds of anthologies tends to be layered, with a first pass at stories by authors I recognize, a second at the titles that intrigue me the most, and a final pass as the rest of the collection. It's an approach that I find interesting because it allows me consider the individual merits of the stories, as opposed to how they compare to the bigger names in the collection. As for those recognized names I hit on my first pass, Simon Clark's The Tin House is a different sort of haunted house tale, one populated by memories (particularly the guilty) ones of those who passed in cruelty, while Steve Rasnic Tem's The Monster Makers takes an awkward, uncomfortable look at the cruelty of children - children who are neither as innocent nor as blameless as we might like to think. Kim Newman's The Only Ending We Have was my second-favorite of the collection, a Hitchcock tribute about a young woman on-set for Psycho that I had to read twice - once for the story, and a second time to catch all the references. Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman will likely garner a lot of attention, but as much as I liked its surreal sort of dreamy quality, I was left wanting something more. The final story in the anthology, Brian Hodge's The Same Deep Waters as You was the one story to beat out Newman for my favorite entry, with a fantastic tale of Lovecraftian monsters versus Homeland Security. Of those I encountered on my subsequent passes, Stephen Bacon's Apports was a great tale of a vengeful poltergeist; Steve Toase's Call Out involved a twisted sort of human sacrifice that I quite enjoyed; and Lynda E. Rucker's The House on Cobb Street was an amazingly constructed story that I can't find a way to describe without spoiling the tale. The Fox by Conrad Williams was a great campfire horror story (literally) that does a nice job of building the suspense to a never feverish intensity, while Tim Casson's The Withering was a solid period piece about a young woman who can hear the voices of the dead, and who is called upon to determine a question of guilt. Overall, a solid collection of atmospheric, subtle sort of horror stories that unnerve and creep rather than outright horrify. With a focus more on emotion than gore, Datlow has taken what seems a very 'classic' sort of approach to The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 6, and I suspect that will really appeal to many readers. Check it out, even if just for Newman & Hodge - they're worth the price of admission alone. Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    The first thing I do after pulling Volume Six of "The Best Horror of the Year" out of the Amazon box is flip to the copyright page to see who did that cover. Nice job, Pierre Droal! I'm not sure what's going on there, but I'm intrigued. The second thing I do is check the Table of Contents. A couple of name brands. A couple of personal favorites. But mostly a lot of unknowns. This was a bad thing last year. Volume Five was loaded with newbies who needed a lot more time practicing their craft befo The first thing I do after pulling Volume Six of "The Best Horror of the Year" out of the Amazon box is flip to the copyright page to see who did that cover. Nice job, Pierre Droal! I'm not sure what's going on there, but I'm intrigued. The second thing I do is check the Table of Contents. A couple of name brands. A couple of personal favorites. But mostly a lot of unknowns. This was a bad thing last year. Volume Five was loaded with newbies who needed a lot more time practicing their craft before graduating to a collection of the "best" in genre writing. But unfamiliar names carry the potential of an exciting discovery. Laird Barron was a nobody not too long ago. So let's keep an open mind, and see what editor Ellen Datlow has unearthed from the crypt for us this year. Volume Six is off with a plod in "Apports," which begins as a child abuse revenge story, the kind of thing Andrew Vachss can crank out a half-dozen at a time, then veers into suggestions of the supernatural. Stephen Bacon lays down some good seedy scene-setting amid the British projects, but his characters blow the mood when they start making stilted, overly obvious declarations: "That's no excuse for what you did, but I think you're suffering in your own hell." In "Mr. Splitfoot," an aging, ailing spiritualist drifts closer to an afterlife significantly darker and colder than the Elysian ideal she's sold her followers. Dale Bailey specializes in a horror-lite, the kind of polite, inoffensive fiction that fills up the stodgy genre digests. As "Mr. Splitfoot" starts to build up a head of scream (I'm sorry, these reviews bring out the Crypt Keeper in me), Bailey backs off to deliver a softer, gentler ending. In all fairness, perhaps he was constrained by historical record, but I often get the feeling Bailey is suppressing a nasty streak that I wish he'd indulge (in print, I mean; I don't want him to track me down and sock me in the mouth or anything). In "The Good Husband," a man walks in on his wife's fourth and most successful suicide attempt and finds himself too worn out to save her. "She will never be happy," he realizes, and a repeat of previous rescue routines "would just be welcoming her back to hell." If she wants to die ... he'll live with it. Til death do us part? Well, not exactly. "The Good Husband" is a record of despair and the literal decay of a marriage haunted by "the ghost of a feeling." It's only the second Nathan Ballingrud story I've read, but already I'm realizing my inexcusable tardiness in getting a copy of his collection, "North American Lake Monsters." In Nina Allan's "The Tiger," an ex-con moves into an apartment above a pub where he ponders his innocence. Dennis Croft's conviction in a child's murder was overturned, but after 10 years of being treated like a criminal in prison, he's not entirely cleared of the crime in his head. Like Bacon's opening story, "The Tiger" slinks amid the murk between horror and the British crime story, but Allan is more subtle and crafty in the way she doles out information, thereby upping the tension and unease. It's a shame that she breaks the mood by interrupting the story to namecheck its influences before punking out on the ending, but she almost had me. "The Soul in the Bell Jar" reads like an extended Gahan Wilson cartoon. KJ Kabza applies a touch of the New Weird to the old, dark house in an oddball story honoring the traditions of the mad scientist, the child in danger, the coach ride through the haunted forest. And zombies ... of a sort. I couldn't decide whether to read this story in Universal black and white or garish Corman color. "Bones of Crow," Ray Cluley's story of giant, man-eating birds in the projects (What's the British term for the projects?), began promisingly as kind of a twisted spin on Ken Loach's "Kes." But as the story got progressively goofier, it put me more in mind of "The Giant Claw," the '50s turkey that featured a turkey, a giant marionette goonybird that knocked toy planes from the sky and gobbled up parachutists. You'll remember it if you've seen it. "Crow," like "Claw," is worth a larf, but I'm not sure that was quite the effect Cluley intended. In my day job, I got involved in a debate with a fellow editor about the word "meanwhile." It's a useless word, an authorial clearing of the throat onto the page. Skip the preamble, and write your sentence. I told my colleague that the only places I regularly encountered "meanwhile" were at work when I was deleting it and in comic books from the '60s. That night, I came home and read "The Tin House" and found it haunted by the ghost of "meanwhile," along with more malignant forces. Simon Clark was a mainstay during the Leisure cheezer days when that paperback publisher allowed authors to thrive without having to worry much about fussy copy editors. Clark was better than many, but his "meanwhiles," "try ands" and dialog that's "shrieked," "screamed," "bellowed," "gaped"(?) but seldom simply "said" mark him as a first-draft-and-done kind of pulpster. It's juvenile, sloppy, flabby and not exactly to my taste, but lots of readers like their horror quick and brainless, and it can be fun sometimes. I'm something of an amateur expert on pop culture, and I know my horror history. But all must bow in awe before the body of knowledge regularly drawn from by Kim Newman, who has somehow managed to see every movie and read every book in the horror/SF genres while prolifically adding his own seminal works to the canon. All this, and he's a snappy dresser, too (I can grow a better mustache tho). Newman often brings this encyclopedic expertise to his fiction, drafting figures from history or characters from other people's novels to deploy them for his own evil purposes. Alfred Hitchcock gets repurposed in "The Only Ending We Have," a clever alternate cut of "Psycho," starring Janet Leigh's put-upon body double. (Is this Newman's tribute to Brian De Palma's tribute to Hitchcock?) In addition to incorporating winking references to most of Hitchcock's major works, Newman, ever the dapper gent, makes sure to give a proper nod to terror royalty -- Norman Bates' true creator, Robert Bloch. Writers who define themselves by agendas run the risk of boring and irritating an audience that knows before the story even starts that it's going to bang on that agenda like a revivalist thumps his favorite Bible. So goes "Fine in the Fire." Within its opening pages, I knew what Lee Thomas was up to: what demons plagued all-star sports jock beloved golden boy character Toby and what his religious father was doing to "cure" him. But Thomas drags his story out for an unconscionable time before dropping his shocker of a denouement, exhausting my patience with his mix of predictability and preposterousness. "Fine in the Fire" follows Derek Kunsken's "The Dog's Paw," a "Twilight Zone"-type twist on Islamic extremism. Purveyors of this kind of preachiness, who try to use the genre as a tool to enlighten us poor benighted readers, often come off as tools themselves. "Dream within a dream. ... Nothing mysterious or creepy about that," says the tough guy protagonist of Laird Barron's "Jaws of Saturn." As the oft-unsettled owner of an overactive unconscious myself, I must disagree. It might just be a matter of concurrently reading a Best of anthology from the '90s by Ellen Datlow's chief competitor as horror's most venerable editor, but "Jaws of Saturn" reminded me of the kind of stories Karl Edward Wagner was writing before he died: sexually explicit nightmares bleeding and blurring into the waking world. Another classic genre tradition Barron enlivens is that of "apartment horror." This is the second Barron story I know of about The Broadsword building. "Almost a century old, and enormous, its caretakers kept alive certain elements and traditions not often present in its modern counterparts." Grammatical flub aside, that sentence hints at caretakers somewhat more ominous than the landlady banging on the door to demand the rent, and in The Broadsword, neighborly disputes take on higher stakes than how late it's reasonable to crank Zeppelin on the stereo. Barron is perhaps setting up his own mini-mythos, similar to Roman Polanski's loose trilogy of urban dweller unrest. A plane crash at sea would be harrowing enough, but Linda Nagata takes the worst-case scenario further in "Halfway Home." She spoils her ending early-on by mentioning biohazards and a passenger wearing a thick coat of makeup, but the story's a thrill for most of its duration, and it should make its more well-traveled readers rethink their frequent flier miles. Neil Gaiman also turns in a maritime disaster in the slight but finely sliced "Down to a Sunless Sea." Best for last, right? Ellen Datlow often saves something special for the final slot in her annuals, and Brian Hodge gets the honored position this year with his novella "The Same Deep Waters As You." Kerry Larimer, an "animal whisperer," is recruited by Homeland Security to utilize her insight at "an older version of Guantanamo Bay. ... It's the home of the most long-term enemy combatants ever held in US custody." Kerry has been summoned to try to communicate with the inmates, 63 travesties of nature captured in the 1920s from a blighted little town called Innsmouth. After decades in slimy saltwater captivity, the prisoners sense the imminence of an event inconceivably apocalyptic, and the U.S. military would like a sneak peek. Too many Mythos acolytes cluster in their foetid little klatches to regale each other with the same old stories using the same old set of monsters described by the same old set of adjectives. (Look no further than the first volume of the anthology series Hodge's story was taken from.) The unspeakable, unfathomable cosmic unknown has become the toothless, tentacled, comfortable familiar. Hodge doesn't do comfortable, and if he's going to swim Lovecraft's fishman-infested waters, "full of secrets and unintended tombs," he's going to leave a singular ring around that tub. (That probably doesn't sound like a compliment.) I get downright irate that Brian Hodge isn't wildly popular and disgustingly successful. We all have our favorite obscure cult artists, but come on, people, he's way past due! This isn't an entirely altruistic wish. I just want my fair shot at getting a copy of his books before they go out of print. Despite a batch of stories centering on the great oceanic unknown, "The Best Horror of the Year Volume Six" doesn't reach the series' high-water mark of Volume Four, but it's a league or two above last year's bottom feeder. Although there are few stories so exceptional that they warrant the appellation "best," there's a uniform solidity to the selections this year. The copy editing was more attentive (still leaving room for improvement), and even the worst tale of the bunch is quite readable and well-constructed. Datlow's picks may be overly safe -- shocks and shivers are in short supply. But they're solid. And there's particularly fine work from Nathan Ballingrud, Kim Newman and Brian Hodge.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    These anthologies are always a crap shoot, and it's impossible to please everyone with every story - there are twenty-three stories and one poem in this book, so while there's probably something for everyone here, the question is really how many out of the twenty-four. For me, sadly, I don't think the ratio favored this book. Since twenty-four stories/poems are just too many to review (and, frankly, the only thing I might have to say about some of them would be "Ugh." or "How did this get publis These anthologies are always a crap shoot, and it's impossible to please everyone with every story - there are twenty-three stories and one poem in this book, so while there's probably something for everyone here, the question is really how many out of the twenty-four. For me, sadly, I don't think the ratio favored this book. Since twenty-four stories/poems are just too many to review (and, frankly, the only thing I might have to say about some of them would be "Ugh." or "How did this get published?" and that's just not nice), I'll simply list the ones I thought were decent to okay (there wasn't even one that I really loved, and therein lies the two star rating, since with twenty-four options, the odds are that I should have really liked ONE of them, right?): "The House on Cobb Street" by Lynda E. Rucker - liked, but didn't love the story, but did enjoy the acknowledgment that should ALWAYS be made in haunted house stories...the answer to the question, "Um, why don't you just leave, then?" Rucker's reply, "Countless storytellers worked themselves into contortions and employed ludicrous plot contrivances to keep their protagonists captive, and yet the answer, Vivian learned, was so much simpler: You stayed because you gave up. You succumbed to a kind of learned helplessness that convinced you that the veil between worlds had been pulled back and you could not escape; wherever you went, you would always be haunted. You entered into an abusive relationship with a haunted house." - I'll buy that. "Call Out" by Steve Toase - Country vet called out on a livestock birth - interesting concept and well written. Nice sense of dread. "The Fox" by Conrad Williams - Family camping trip. Moral: don't fuck with nature. It will always get it's own back, and you probably deserve it. "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" by Priya Sharma - Great title for a story with an ending I didn't see coming, always a pleasant surprise. "The Dog's Paw" by Derek Kunsken - This wasn't a GREAT story, but brutal and had some nice touches (two stories in the collection touch on honor killings), I think it was the unusual setting that I enjoyed - brought to mind the excellent Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. "Fine in the Fire" by Lee Thomas - You'll see where this is going right away, but you understand why the protagonist doesn't not, and I enjoyed the style. "Halfway Home" by Linda Nagata - Terror at twenty-thousand feet. Would have been my favorite of the collection but for the disappointing ending. "The Same Deep Waters As You" by Brian Hodge - Animal behavior expert brought in by Homeland Security - but why? Another candidate for my favorite but for a rather nothingish ending. So, there you go. I do enjoy reading these books, hoping I can find some new favorites, and I very much appreciated the effort taken by Datlow to talk about notable publications during the year - I'm adding several of those to my Mount TBR.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Kaufmann

    Calling anything the best of the year is a tricky proposition. Taste is subjective; one person's trash is another person's treasure. However, I've never read an Ellen Datlow anthology that I didn't think was top-notch, so I've come to trust her taste implicitly. While there were a small handful of stories in this volume that didn't resonate with me the way they clearly must have for Datlow, overall this is a very strong sampling of short-form horror fiction from 2013. Among the standouts for me Calling anything the best of the year is a tricky proposition. Taste is subjective; one person's trash is another person's treasure. However, I've never read an Ellen Datlow anthology that I didn't think was top-notch, so I've come to trust her taste implicitly. While there were a small handful of stories in this volume that didn't resonate with me the way they clearly must have for Datlow, overall this is a very strong sampling of short-form horror fiction from 2013. Among the standouts for me were "The Good Husband" by Nathan Ballingrud, which might be my favorite story of the bunch, "The Soul in the Bell Jar" by KJ Kabza, "That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love" by Robert Shearman, "The Monster Makers" by Steve Rasnic Tem, "The Only Ending We Have" by Kim Newman, "Fine In the Fire" by Lee Thomas, which is another favorite, and "Jaws of Saturn" by Laird Barron. This is my first time reading a volume of THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR but it certainly won't be the last. Recommended for fans of horror, and also for writers interested in learning how great short-form horror fiction works.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Overall an impressive collection of short stories, although I feel many do not necessarily fit within the horror genre. I have provided an overall review of the book as a whole followed by individual summary reviews of each story. You may need to pop some popcorn before you start this review – it may take a while to get through! Disclaimer: the following is strictly a reflection of my own personal (unconventional?) tastes and may or may not reflect the views of others. In other words, if you don’ Overall an impressive collection of short stories, although I feel many do not necessarily fit within the horror genre. I have provided an overall review of the book as a whole followed by individual summary reviews of each story. You may need to pop some popcorn before you start this review – it may take a while to get through! Disclaimer: the following is strictly a reflection of my own personal (unconventional?) tastes and may or may not reflect the views of others. In other words, if you don’t agree with my opinions, that’s cool! That’s what makes us all unique – it’s a beautiful thing. This e-book begins with a lengthy summation of the year’s most notable horror contributions that were reviewed by the editor in preparation of this collection. I admittedly skipped over this section as it was of little interest to me. Simply put, I was unabashedly eager to get to the meaty carnage of the horror as quickly as possible. So, I settled down in my comfy chair, wrapped myself in a fleecy blanket and prepared to be scared. I had never read any of the five previous The Best Horror of the Year volumes, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Actually, I’ll take that back – I fully expected a bone-chilling fear-fest, but that’s not exactly what I got. I would classify only a handful of these stories as horror – the majority would be better categorized as paranormal, sci-fi and/or fantasy. In order for me to be satisfied when reading or watching horror, I need it to scare the living bejesus out of me, or at the very least leave me with a serious feeling of the heebie-jeebies for the remainder of the night. Most of these stories just didn’t do it for me. For those reasons, I immediately deducted one star from my rating right off the top. Having done that, I based the remainder of my rating on the overall quality and likeability of the individual stories themselves, regardless of what genre I felt they fit in to. Overall, this was a respectable assortment of 24 short stories (including one poem), although, as previously mentioned, most did not satisfy my entirely subjective definition of horror. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not a hater of paranormal or science fiction. While my go-to preference is horror, I do also enjoy paranormal or sci-fi offerings that are well-written and compelling. But when I read horror, I need it dark and dirty, raw and gritty – the scarier, gorier and more disturbing the better. If I were to use an analogy to describe this collection, I would call it a sheep in wolf’s clothing – advertised as a formidable work of horror (the year’s best??) but lacking the fangs to back it up. If you tend to gravitate more towards science fiction, supernatural or even mild horror, then you will undoubtedly enjoy the majority of this collection. However, if you’re like me and consider yourself more a fan of the Jack Ketchum or Stephen King novels, or you can’t get enough of the Saw, Hostel or Hannibal Lecter gore-fests on the big screen, then you may be left desperately wishing for more. **SPOILER ALERT** Following are short summaries and individual ratings of each story (out of 5 stars) which may contain spoilers. Skip this section if you want to maintain an element of surprise. The Good Husband (by Nathan Ballingrud): This story was my favorite out of the entire collection. A woman commits suicide in the bathtub while her husband, who has watched her battle depression for many years, stands by and does nothing to help her. The woman, apparently not realizing she’s dead, then continues to exist in the house with her husband as she slowly deteriorates both physically and mentally. Is this zombie-state in retaliation for her husband’s callous disregard for his wife in her hour of need? Appropriately creepy and unsettling. [4.5 stars] Fine in the Fire (by Lee Thomas): Although this was not a tale of horror in the fictional sense, the horrific type of treatment depicted in this story was prevalent in the U.S. from the 1940s through the early 1970s. Set in modern day but with flashbacks to the 1950s, this story illustrates just how far a devoted and religious father is willing to go in order to “cure” his eldest son of what he considers a significant yet treatable mental disorder. Exceptionally well-written and poignant. [4.5 stars] Halfway Home (by Linda Nagata): A chilling and captivating read. A strong, confident woman on a flight home from the Philippines to L.A. boasts to the chatty yet mysterious woman next to her about her willingness to do whatever it takes to overcome life’s challenges. Halfway to its destination, the plane suddenly crashes into the Pacific near a small uninhabited island. As the only survivors, the two women and one small child make it safely to land. There are some incredibly dark forces at play here as one of these women is not what she seems. Faced with a cataclysmic decision, and with rescue in sight, the L.A. woman must now demonstrate if she indeed has what it takes to overcome this final catastrophe. [4.5 stars] The Anatomist’s Mnemonic (by Priya Sharma): A stimulating tale with a shocking ending. A middle-aged, single man with a robust hand fetish goes on a seemingly innocent search for the perfect woman who must, of course, have flawless hands. He soon finds himself visiting the home of two sisters – one with a captivating personality but imperfect hands and the other with a less intriguing persona but impeccable hands. Which sister does he choose to woo and how does he persuade her to openly welcome his advances? [4 stars] The Fox (by Conrad Williams): Mysterious and frighteningly compelling – a real page-turner. A happily-married couple takes their two small children to a rural English farm for a cold-weather camping vacation. (Why they chose to go camping in winter is beyond me, but I digress.) In the morning, the family checks the chicken coop for eggs only to discover missing (and presumably dead) chickens. Later in the day, tensions mount as they come across a deceased fox (…or is it??). We soon learn of a despicable act that the husband, as a teenager, perpetrated on a mother fox and her kits decades prior. Is the fox finally exacting her revenge after all these years? [4 stars] Call Out (by Steve Toase): A small-town veterinarian is lured under false pretenses to a bucolic horse barn where he becomes trapped inside with an evil and hungry barghest (a terrifying wolf-goblin hybrid creature). The writing style of this story was disturbingly convincing – it just ended much too abruptly. [3.5 stars] The Dog’s Paw (by Derek Kunsken): This story reminds me of the old Twilight Zone series from the 1960s, when many of the episodes ended with some sort of profound message for the greater good of humanity. Set in an Arabic nation, a young girl brings shame on her family by being seen in the company of an unrelated man. This disgrace manifests itself by turning her father’s arm into a dog’s paw. The only way he can rectify this aberration is through the honor killing of his beloved daughter. With strong outside forces intervening, will he decide to uphold his family’s honor and reverse his disfigurement or will he choose to save the life of his only daughter? A compelling and sinister morality check. [3.5 stars] The Same Deep Waters as You (by Brian Hodge): In this gripping novella, a popular TV “animal whisperer” has been recruited by U.S. Homeland Security as a consultant on a top-secret mission. She reluctantly travels to an undisclosed island off the Pacific Northwest coast in order to attempt communication with mysterious sea-like creatures who were once human. These beings have been held captive on the island in an outdated GITMO-like facility since the 1920s. The mission is one of urgency as these creatures seem to be suddenly mobilizing toward some unseen force somewhere in the ocean depths. The author’s imagery and descriptive writing style really held my attention throughout, and the happenings on the very last page truly shocked me. [3.5 stars] Apports (by Stephen Bacon): In this supernatural tale, the main protagonist searches for, with the intent of executing, the despicable man who years earlier had killed his own young son in a botched murder-suicide attempt. He finally locates the man – who claims he is being viciously terrorized by the ghost of his son – now living in the British equivalent of the “projects”. He almost immediately realizes that the man’s current miserable and pathetic existence might just be a more satisfying revenge than actually ending his life. Although the outcome was quite predictable, it was still an enjoyable, descriptive read. [3 stars] The House on Cobb Street (by Lynda E. Rucker): A young couple moves to Georgia and begins renovations on a large, ramshackle house that they quickly realize is haunted by evil spirits. Apparently driven mad by the spirits, the husband soon commits suicide in the back yard. The woman, following the predictable course of your standard haunted house story, continues to live in the home and eventually determines that the house “makes people disappear”. This story jumps back and forth between published news articles describing various supernatural occurrences at the house over the years (apparently to provide a semblance of realism) and the real time accounts of the young wife. Although it didn’t have any type of good “gotcha” moment at the end, it was still a well-written, fairly interesting ghost story. [3 stars] Stemming the Tide (by Simon Strantzas): A well-written albeit somewhat perplexing zombie tale. A couple takes a touristy day-trip to a very specific location in Eastern Canada to watch the tide roll in, as it does punctually every 6 hours and 13 minutes. After the rest of the onlookers have long since departed the beach, the couple remains as if they are waiting for something more to occur. Although I’m still unclear how they knew what was coming on that particular day, or why they wanted to witness it to begin with, the incoming tide brings with it scores of the undead who attempt to break through the surrounding gates designed to contain the evil. [3 stars] The Monster Makers (by Steve Rasnic Tem): Young siblings with a special “gift” of mind-control carry out horrific acts of violence on random strangers, simply for their own malicious entertainment. A metaphorical take on the harsh level of cruelty that a child can inflict, regardless of whether or not the child intends to be cruel or if he even fully comprehends the potential consequences of his actions. [3 stars] Majorlena (by Jane Jakeman): A handful of U.S. soldiers narrowly surviving an ambush of their convoy in Iraq come across an unfamiliar survivor among the wreckage – Major Lena – a female officer who outranks the other members of the small group. While taking cover from enemy snipers, members of their clan begin to mysteriously die one by one. Is the seemingly honorable Major something more sinister than what she seems? [3 stars] The Tin House (by Simon Clark): An isolated, beachfront house made of tin holds an appalling secret instilled many decades earlier by its original builders who were heavily involved in the African slave trade. Can the vengeful spirits that inhabit this house finally be vindicated? The paranormal storyline was compelling enough if you could look past the somewhat unimaginative writing style. [3 stars] The Withering (by Tom Casson): Set in the late 19th century, a young college-educated woman continues her dead father’s commitment to bring justice to those who have been wrongly accused. In this tale of necromancy, deceased victims of unsolved homicides can be reanimated for short periods of time in order to name their killers or detail the manners in which they died. Can an innocent young man falsely imprisoned for a gruesome murder be freed and the real killer brought to justice before it is too late? [3 stars] Bones of Crow (by Ray Cluley): A vile, chain-smoking woman finds a nest containing gigantic eggs on the rooftop balcony of her apartment building. Unable to contain her curiosity she touches one of the eggs, causing the baby bird inside to die. Needless to say, the momma bird is none too happy and eventually takes her revenge on the woman. Is the woman’s violent demise symbolic of her dismal existence during life? Although the storyline had potential, it reminded me of one of those ‘B’ horror movies from the 1950s and 60s – utterly ridiculous plot and weak script but you can’t stop watching nevertheless. [3 stars] That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love (by Robert Shearman): This is an overly disturbing tale about the abnormally close relationship between a young girl and her older brother whom she allows to brutally “execute” her beloved dolls so that he doesn’t have to compete for her love and affection. I would describe this as a pseudo-horror blue-plate special with a side order of incest. To say this creepy story left me feeling “icky” pretty much sums it up. [3 stars] Down to a Sunless Sea (by Neil Gaiman): An elderly, forlorn English woman, still grieving decades later over the loss of her sailor son who was cannibalized by the surviving members of their capsized sailing vessel, carries an eerie memento on a chain around her neck. An interesting and descriptive tale, but much too short (even for a short story); this could easily have been teased out a few more pages for an even more dramatic ending. [3 stars] The Tiger (by Nina Allan): A recently released ex-convict who was wrongly imprisoned for a child’s murder moves into an apartment over a small tavern that’s owned by a family with a young son. Trying to make a fresh start for himself after 10 years of captivity, he befriends a peculiar group of people who claim they want to help him get re-acclimated into society. He soon learns that these people may have other more dastardly ulterior motives. The choices made by the ex-con at the end of the story could have gone one of two ways – either dark and horrifying or sympathetic and considerate. For me, the author made the wrong decision by taking the moral high-road – not really what I’m looking for in a horror story. I would have given the story at least 3 stars had it not been for the disappointing ending. [2.5 stars] The Only Ending We Have (by Kim Newman): An homage to many of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic films. An actress working as a body-double for Janet Leigh on the Psycho movie set becomes disillusioned with the industry and is no longer able to cope with Hitchcock’s overtly sexual advances towards her. The author goes into great detail describing Hitchcock as a cruel and sexually deviant person – apparently alluding to The Birds star Tippi Hedren’s very public disclosure that Hitchcock was a “creepy old pervert who made [her] life a living hell”. I personally didn’t care much for this story. The main character had way too many first-person conversations with herself, which I found rather annoying. There were also a number of grammatical and spelling errors throughout. However, serious devotees of the Hitchcock films might find this story enjoyable. [2.5 stars] Jaws of Saturn (by Lair Barron): Living in a dilapidated hotel, a powerful, malevolent sorcerer poses as a struggling hypnotist to help an attractive female neighbor quit smoking. Filled with jealous rage, her hit-man boyfriend decides to put an end to their mysterious relationship, but encounters greater resistance than he bargained for upon confronting the hypnotist. The main thing that stood out for me was the sexually explicit nature of this story. I’m not a person who is easily offended by depictions of graphic sex or violence, but it seemed to be included simply for the purposes of shock and awe – it didn’t really add any context to the story and was basically just a distraction. Also, the ending was weirdly vague – I’m still not exactly sure of the actual outcome. [2.5 stars] The Soul in the Bell Jar (by KJ Kabza): In this fantasy/sci-fi story, a young girl visits the estate of her eccentric great-uncle, Dr. Dandridge, while her parents are on an extended trip around the world. The doctor is well-known for his work reanimating dead animals by physically stitching them together with their disembodied souls, a process known as vivification. The majority of this story was fairly well-written, but I felt the ending seemed hurried, anti-climactic and somewhat confusing. [2 stars] Mr. Splitfoot (by Dale Bailey): A tiresome, exceptionally un-scary paranormal tale about an aging 19th century medium and her odd, death-bed interactions with a ghostly spirit. [1 star] Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales (by Jeannine Hall Gailey): An extremely short, three-stanza poem that attempts to illustrate the human body through various fairy tale references. There isn’t even enough substance here for me to adequately provide a review. I’m not exactly sure why it was included in this collection – apparently the editor had an extra page and a half in her quota that needed filling. [0 stars]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    This copy is signed by Ellen Datlow.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jaime K

    I received a copy at Book Con in NYC and haven't read the other volumes. This is a good anthology. Apports by Stephen Bacon: Chilling story about a dead child's ghost and the apports the kid leaves his father...and almost step-father. Mr. Splitfoot by Dale Bailey: It was an odd story that I didn't enjoy about girls in the 1800s raising a spirit. The Good Husband by Nathan Ballingrud: Gross (but not horribly so) story about a wife who committed suicide, but comes back (scaring her husband) until she I received a copy at Book Con in NYC and haven't read the other volumes. This is a good anthology. Apports by Stephen Bacon: Chilling story about a dead child's ghost and the apports the kid leaves his father...and almost step-father. Mr. Splitfoot by Dale Bailey: It was an odd story that I didn't enjoy about girls in the 1800s raising a spirit. The Good Husband by Nathan Ballingrud: Gross (but not horribly so) story about a wife who committed suicide, but comes back (scaring her husband) until she rots away. The Tiger by Nina Allan: An accused murderer was (and becomes) possibly possessed and homicidal. It gave me goosebumps. The House on Cobb Street by Lynda E. Rucker: A woman (and her husband) enters "an abusive relationship with a haunted house." Some Lit stories I read in high school ('Rose for Emily' and 'Yellow Wallpaper') were mentioned and were relevant to the story. It wasn't all that bad. The Soul in the Bell Jar by KJ Kabza: A very creepy adult-like "Series of Unfortunate Events" story of vivified animals and a doctor who extracts and restitches souls. Call Out by Steve Toase: Malcolm, a Vetrinarian, witnesses a bargest (huge black dog, the Grim in 'Harry Potter') come to life. That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love by Robert Shearman: A young girl loves her brother so much that when she comes to love the dolls her father brings back from his trips, the siblings go out and kill the dolls. When her brother dies, Karen's heart is so full of love she can't fully love her husband until they kill her current dolls. It was CREEPY. Bones of Crow by Ray Cluley: A woman finds huge eggs left by a crow and touches one. The baby dies in the egg, and the mother has grotesque revenge. I didn't personally enjoy it, but it is perfect for the anthology. Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales by Jeannine Hall Gailey: That was a pointless pice of random writing and had no reason to be in here. The Tin House by Simon Clark: A tin house by the ocean holds an extremely chilling secret leading back to the days of slaves. The Fox by Conrad Williams: On a mountain farm, a man and his family notices dead chickens and then a dead fox. The fox exacts revenge on the man from a mistake made many years prior. Stemming the Tide by Simon Strantzas: It was weird, but it worked; zombies roll in with the tide and are unleashed on the world. The Anatomist's Mnemonic by Priya Sharma: This was reminiscent of Stephen King. I was able to predict the ending of an interesting story of a man with a hand fetish, and needs to find the perfect pair to find his soul mate. The Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem: This was weird and I wish was fleshed out more. A family's mind creates monsters of people…but only sometimes. The Only Ending We Have by Kim Newman: A Hitchcock actress learns the limits and strengths of hate. The Dog's Paw by Derek Künsken: A man is penalized by the gods for his daughter's misbehaviour by growing the paws of a dog. It was odd. Fine in the Fire by Lee Thomas: This was a slightly eerie story of a country man trying to shock his son's gay away. Majorlena by Jane Jakeman: Soldiers in Iraq randomly meet Major Lena, who has a freaking creepy secret. The Withering by Tom Casson: I enjoyed the necromancy of this. The dead can be recalled for a brief period of time to name a killer or explain the method of their death. Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman: I felt this was an incomplete story of a boy who joins sailors and is ended up eaten to his bones after an accident. Jaws of Saturn by Lair Barron: A sorcerer acts as a hypnotist for a woman who is trying to quit smoking. Yet he has a more sinister plan, where nightmares become reality. It'd be interesting to see this more fleshed out. Halfway Home by Linda Nagata: Not a real "horror" story in the eerie/supernatural sense, but horrific in a 'the onset of a bioterroristic plague' way. There was also a plane crash, which is frightening in itself. The Same Deep Waters As You by Brian Hodge: This involves an older version of Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners from 1925 are still alive. A woman named Kerry, who can speak with animals, can attune to the non-humans' thoughts to determine why there is a near-uprising at hand.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Volume six of The Best Horror of the Year is a welcome return to the edgy and diverse selection of stories this series presented in its first two volumes; recent volumes have been a little bland, presenting stories that are fairly similar in tone and style. This year's volume contains several stories that provide food for thought as well as a few scares. From the first story on throughout the collection, there are morally complex tales in which the protagonist finds himself in a hopeless situati Volume six of The Best Horror of the Year is a welcome return to the edgy and diverse selection of stories this series presented in its first two volumes; recent volumes have been a little bland, presenting stories that are fairly similar in tone and style. This year's volume contains several stories that provide food for thought as well as a few scares. From the first story on throughout the collection, there are morally complex tales in which the protagonist finds himself in a hopeless situation from which the story's horror derives. More often than not, the inaction of the protagonist is the most horrific aspect of the story. The stories deal with suicide, neo-colonialism, repressed homosexuality, terrorism, honor killings, and other difficult subjects. Most of the stories with a moral imperative have an innovative plot structure or narration, including an effective use of second-person narration by Neil Gaiman and the demi-epistolary "The House on Cobb Street" by Lynda E. Ruckner. Scattered throughout the edgy stories with a statement to make are straightforward narratives whose plots would be right at home on Night Gallery or in an EC comic. Among these "choke, gasp" stories are: "Call Out" by Steve Toase; "The Tin House" by Simon Clark; and "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" by Priya Sharma. I tend to like this type of story a little less only because there are so many horror anthologies that traffic in only this type of monster story, and not the more psychological fare described above. There are also subgenre stories, such as the steampunky "Soul in the Bell Jar" and the Lovecraft mythos story "The Same Deep Waters as You" by Brian Hodge. The latter is the final story of the collection, and it is a weak ending to the volume. It's not a bad story, I suppose, but we have seen the monsters countless times, and this seems like a flat note to end what is otherwise an engaging and original collection. Well worth the read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Where to start? Why 2 stars? It's because out of 23 stories (one is a poem), only 3 were actually entertaining, and only one was scary (The Good Husband). Neil Gaiman's teensy story was a good "gotcha!" moment, but still not horror. The last is almost a novella, and it's an update on Lovecraft's Innsmouth story. Still wasn't scary. This whole volume read as more of a strange tales collection, rather than any sort of horror. If they did hint at the horror genre or anything vaguely horrifying, the Where to start? Why 2 stars? It's because out of 23 stories (one is a poem), only 3 were actually entertaining, and only one was scary (The Good Husband). Neil Gaiman's teensy story was a good "gotcha!" moment, but still not horror. The last is almost a novella, and it's an update on Lovecraft's Innsmouth story. Still wasn't scary. This whole volume read as more of a strange tales collection, rather than any sort of horror. If they did hint at the horror genre or anything vaguely horrifying, the stories would veer off into safer territory, or just end suddenly. If you would like to actually read something scary, I highly recommend The Lovecraft ezine, anything by Junji Ito, or The New Gothic. I've written reviews for these as well. Maybe I just have too high standards, but I expect certain things from the genre: (1) to be grossed out, (2) get goosebumps, (3) have the potential for nightmares, (4) explore a new, unseen world, or (5) to experience a story from the antagonist's or antihero's POV.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer

    When a reader must stop in the middle of a story in order to wait for daylight before continuing, and when a tale leaves the reader shivering even at the memory, that is a sign of a Horror Anthology well worth the reading. This is very true of this volume, which effectively proves that Horror can be subtle, not splatter.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Stuart

    Just started but I really enjoyed The good husband so far.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    My favorites from this collection: Stephen Bacon: "Apports" 3.5 stars Nathan Ballingrud: "The Good Husband" 4.5 stars Lynda E. Rucker: "The House on Cobb Street" 3 stars Jane Jakeman: "Majorlena" 3 stars Laird Barron: "Jaws of Saturn" 4.5 stars Brian Hodge: "The Same Deep Waters as You" 5 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Bellamy

    I won't say I'm losing faith in Ellen Datlow. I'm not. But this volume is one of the weaker anthologies I've read in the past year. Maybe the horrors in the actual world are simply stealing the stuff of nightmare slipped into the seams of things, and the urge to face them have lessened, I don't know. I still love the look of this series, and I always like Datlow's long summation at the beginning. People don't talk enough about how a book looks these days... these volumes are well made with a gre I won't say I'm losing faith in Ellen Datlow. I'm not. But this volume is one of the weaker anthologies I've read in the past year. Maybe the horrors in the actual world are simply stealing the stuff of nightmare slipped into the seams of things, and the urge to face them have lessened, I don't know. I still love the look of this series, and I always like Datlow's long summation at the beginning. People don't talk enough about how a book looks these days... these volumes are well made with a great type face, easy to read, and look great on the shelf. And usually the stories are pretty good too. This volume isn't bad, it just isn't good. Almost every story fell into that 'pretty good' category for me. Standouts were "The Good Husband" by Nathan Balingrud, "Call Out' by Steve Toase, "The Only Ending We Have" by Kim Newman was probably my favorite, with "The Same Deep Waters as You" by Brian Hodge a close second. Laird Barron's "Jaws of Saturn" kind of goes without saying. A decent way to pass the time while the blood drains out of your latest victim.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Ward

    Another superior collection from editor Ellen Datlow. (I'd give it a 4.5, but the system won't let me.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scot Parker

    This anthology contains 23 stories and one poem - most of these were mediocre in my opinion; they were unable to conjure up a sense of dread or horror or were only able to provoke a moderate sense of the same. There were, however, a few stand-outs and a few more that I felt had good premises and just failed in the execution. "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gaiman, "The Fox" by Conrad Williams, "The House on Cobb Street" by Lynda Rucker, "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" by Priya Sharma, and "Halfway Hom This anthology contains 23 stories and one poem - most of these were mediocre in my opinion; they were unable to conjure up a sense of dread or horror or were only able to provoke a moderate sense of the same. There were, however, a few stand-outs and a few more that I felt had good premises and just failed in the execution. "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gaiman, "The Fox" by Conrad Williams, "The House on Cobb Street" by Lynda Rucker, "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" by Priya Sharma, and "Halfway Home" by Linda Nagata I thought were excellent and I recommend these stories highly. Rucker's story is a novel take on the haunted house trope. "Halfway Home" is chilling in its take on human nature. Gaiman's story is almost more sad than terrifying but quite well done. "The Fox" is a great horror story based on the premise that nature will sometimes fight back and exact its pound of flesh. Sharma's story is an excellent tale concerning the depths to which an obsession can drive a person, with a hell of an ending. I thought "The Soul in the Bell Jar" by K. J. Kabza, "The Good Husband" by Nathan Ballingrud, and "The Dog's Paw" by Derek Kunsken had interesting premises, but somewhat failed in the execution - I still consider these worth reading. The bulk of the book isn't truly awful but certainly falls short of what I would consider good and of the standards that I seek out for myself when reading fiction. There were a couple of what I consider "book chuckers" in here though - stories that make you want to throw the book against the wall. "The Tin House" required altogether too great a suspension of disbelief for me. "Majorlena" was just silly. "The Same Deep Waters as You" tried so hard to mimic Lovecraft's work but I felt it fell flat and was too unbelievable. The bottom line - there are a few stories in here that are definitely worth reading, but the anthology as a whole I consider fairly weak.

  17. 5 out of 5

    An Redman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This collection was very enjoyable. As another revieerw pointed out, these anthologies are always a crap shoot. While a significant portion of the stories were meh or underwhelming for me personally, I was pleased to see a lot of stories in the sweet spot of 18-25 pages long. The arrangement of the stories wasn't conducive to binge reading though... Too many similar stories stacked up next to each other. The 2/3 mark in the book was off-putting. Apports by Stephen Bacon - 2.5 rating - I found my This collection was very enjoyable. As another revieerw pointed out, these anthologies are always a crap shoot. While a significant portion of the stories were meh or underwhelming for me personally, I was pleased to see a lot of stories in the sweet spot of 18-25 pages long. The arrangement of the stories wasn't conducive to binge reading though... Too many similar stories stacked up next to each other. The 2/3 mark in the book was off-putting. Apports by Stephen Bacon - 2.5 rating - I found my eyes slicked off the character names and glazed over large portions of text. Couldn't get into the story for the life of me. A lot of setting and build up that fell flat at the end. Mr. Splitfoot - Dale Bailey - 2 rating - promising premise about spiritual mediums. Story chased it's tail, was like pulling teeth to progress and not enough pay off at the end. Great for research, not so much for entertainment. The Good Husband - Nathan Ballingrud - 5 rating - what enthralling story-telling chops this fella has. Horribly beautiful tale. Felt unscripted, raw and natural somehow. The Tiger - Nina Allan - 2 rating - another story where my eyes slicked off the character names and glazed over text. The atmosphere was delivered but the plot, characters and tiger element was weak. The House on Cobb Street - Lynda E Rucker - 5 rating - complex, engaging main character and a great riff on a House of Leaves premise. A stark and well crafted story, I'd read an entire book about this one. The Soul in the Bell Jar - KJ Kabza - 2 rating - the premise was slapdash and the horror element unconvincing. Having too many directions and room/corridor/stairwell cues in a short story generally ticks me off. Call Out - Steve Toase - 5 rating - love love love when an author brings a relatively unknown mythological beastie to the forefront. Tight story with believable rural elements and creepiness. That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love - Robert Shearman - 4 rating - I don't think I could get through a Shearman anthology... His lilting, quirky stories are great in small batches, obnoxious in hefty quantities. This particular story is wonderfully unnerving and follows an unconventional track I couldn't predict. Read this Shearman tale. Bones of Crow - Ray Cluley - 1 rating - meh... I was underwhelmed with Cluley's anthology 'Probably Monsters' and this was one of the weaker stories. Unsuccessful at building a main character, generating mystery or interest and the end felt tacked on because he remembered he was intending to write a horror story. Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales - Jeannine Hall Gailey - 4 rating - I typically don't read poetry (shame on me) but this shorty was gripping. The Tin House - Simon Clark - 4 rating - I thought the twist of the house was predictable, however, the characters were cracking and the description of the horrific climax was among the most vivid in the book. The Fox - Conrad Williams - 1 rating - for some reason I couldn't abide this story. Most likely a fault in myself. It was supposed to be a nature-karma-bites-you-in-the-ass story but it doesn't jive on a fundamental level. Stemming the Tide - Simon Strantzas - 2 rating - by the time I'd gotten to the end of this anthology I'd forgotten about this story completely. Skimming through it again it appears to be well written, however, devoid of interesting plot or enjoyable characters. The Anatomist's Mnemonic - Priya Sharma - 4 rating - enjoyed the thoughtful approach to the inception of a fetish. Main character was squirrelly from the get go but really delivers at the end. Definitely appreciate something as tricky/icky as a fetish being elevated in this manner. The Monster Makers - Steve Rasnic Tem - 1 rating - love me some Tem stories, this one was running in the complete opposite direction of what I enjoy reading. Just rubbed me the wrong way. Sucks, because I usually enjoy stories featuring geriatric characters. The Only Ending We Have - Kim Newman - 4 rating - took me a few passes at the first handful of pages to process what was going on. Hitchcock story with wonderful finesse and layering that should be jarring, but ultimately sucks in the reader and keeps you hanging until the end. However, the end was weak. The Dog's Paw - Derek Künsken - 3 rating - how I have longed for stories outside of North American and the UK! The speculative element was incidental but the true horror element is very unsettling because this shit happens. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I hoped for a stronger spec angle to cushion the blow. Fine in the Fire - Lee Thomas - 4 rating - like the previous story, I was braced by the this-shit-happened-for-real element of the tale. Even though it's easy to see where the story is going I enjoyed the writing and the sick feeling as it unfolded. Aversion therapy can be the absolute worst. Majorlena - Jane Jakeman - 1 rating - the story was dating in using an Iraq backdrop but I found the villain to be unsatisfying and the story itself didn't take any real chances. The Withering - Tim Casson - 2 rating - some of the writing was inspired, but the dialogue and plot felt unnatural and overly scripted. The surrogate was a prop, not a well constructed mcguffin, and the conclusion of the story was unsatisfying. Felt like a slapdash set of paranormal characters from a draw out series. Down to a Sunless Sea - Neil Gaiman - 2 rating - story was brief and operated on an ever-growing series of three examples per analogy or description. Not enough story to warrant so much stagnant reiteration. Jaws of Saturn - Laird Barron - 1 rating - love me some Barron, his spooky, resonating words fester in your brain long after reading. But this is not a particularly powerful story, it's not even his best story about The Broadsword Hotel. (What is with this guy and 'limn' and 'mould'? In every story, really?) Halfway Home - Linda Nagata - 4 rating - once I got over the Lost vibe, I was fully committed to the story. Due to world news from the past couple months, the description of the plane crashed was gut-wrenching and mesmerizing. Nice hook at the end. The Same Deep Waters as You - Brian Hodge - 3.5 rating - nice riff on the contractor-the-military-brings-in premise. While I found half of the writing inspired, half the time I thought it was clunky and overly simplified by the author. I enjoy Lovecraft and novella lengths, but this story missed the mark slightly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Horror anthologies run the spectrum from totally unreadable to bliss, and while many of the tales in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six were forgettable, the lack of any truly terrible stories and the presence of a few standouts pushes this collection to four stars. While each story is unrelated, there are strong themes of transformation and grief throughout this particular collection, examined from various supernatural and realistic horror scenes. As mentioned above, I would say about sixt Horror anthologies run the spectrum from totally unreadable to bliss, and while many of the tales in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six were forgettable, the lack of any truly terrible stories and the presence of a few standouts pushes this collection to four stars. While each story is unrelated, there are strong themes of transformation and grief throughout this particular collection, examined from various supernatural and realistic horror scenes. As mentioned above, I would say about sixty percent of the anthology is firmly in the "not bad, not memorable" category. However, the few standouts in this collection make the book worth reading. Of particular note: The Soul in the Bell Jar by KJ Kabza - In a few pages builds an immersive world and tells a tale of innovation gone awry. This was one of the most enjoyable short stories I've read this year, let alone in this volume. The Same Deep Waters As You by Brian Hodge - The final story and another strong contender for a favorite. Familiar Lovecraftian names and concepts from an interesting point of view and some beautiful wordcraft. The House on Cobb Street by Lynda E. Kucker - I have a soft spot for existential horror, and The House on Cobb Street scratches that itch nicely. While I'll likely never reread the full collection, I've bookmarked a few of the stories to return to on days when I'm looking for a short, engrossing narrative. Definitely worth picking up should you see the kindle edition on sale.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Skillfully Written, but Rarely Horror The unifying theme between these stories generally seems to be as a rule an attempt at creating artistic character studies with some paranormal bent almost as an afterthought. Little , if anything, really happens in these stories and one gets the sense of pandering that you are in the universally slow slice of life dramas parading through the Oscars each year. Some of them escape this or have intriguing concepts and are universally well written with rich desc Skillfully Written, but Rarely Horror The unifying theme between these stories generally seems to be as a rule an attempt at creating artistic character studies with some paranormal bent almost as an afterthought. Little , if anything, really happens in these stories and one gets the sense of pandering that you are in the universally slow slice of life dramas parading through the Oscars each year. Some of them escape this or have intriguing concepts and are universally well written with rich description. This heavily layered prose and inward looking focus to the character's thoughts and feelings comes at the expense of actual horror which tends to get lost in the shuffle. Traditional horror fans would likely be better served by the Black Book of Horror series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Theo

    It's hard to rate these types of collections, because so many of the stories in them just aren't good. There are a couple in this which I found to be exceptionally good horror tales The Anatomist's Mnemonic - Priya Sharma: Best story in this collection. Definitely going to look for more of her work. The Same Deep Waters as You - Brian Hodge: Outstanding Lovecraftian tale and were it not for "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" being so darn good, this would have been the best in the collection. Apports - Ste It's hard to rate these types of collections, because so many of the stories in them just aren't good. There are a couple in this which I found to be exceptionally good horror tales The Anatomist's Mnemonic - Priya Sharma: Best story in this collection. Definitely going to look for more of her work. The Same Deep Waters as You - Brian Hodge: Outstanding Lovecraftian tale and were it not for "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" being so darn good, this would have been the best in the collection. Apports - Stephen Bacon: Quick paced, Poe like story. Enjoyed this one. Then we have some good stories The House on Cobb Street - Lynda E. Bucker The Withering - Tim Casson Down to a Sunless Sea - Neil Gaiman (shoot me for not calling a Gaiman story great). Jaws of Saturn - Laird Barron Halfway Home - Linda Nagata The rest just weren't that good with nothing actually significant being the outcome for the protagonists other than they saw something in many. While 2 others are just repetitive drudgery (The Good Husband - Nathan Ballingrud; Mr. Splitfoot - Dale Bailey)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Malissa Wolsleger

    This anthology was really hit or miss. A few of the stories were really great and I didn't want them to end. Others, not so much. Overall, this book is worthy of 3 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josh Towzey

    Favorites: The Same Deep Waters as You The Good Husband Jaws of Saturn Call Out The House on Cobb Street

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna Welch

    The last story is amazing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Horror fans rejoice! The latest installment of the Best Horror of the Year is out now. From haunted houses and weird science to old fashioned revenge with a twist, The Best Horror of the Year, v 6 features an all new and unique collection of horror shorts sure to satisfy fans of every facet of the genre! I don't envy editor Ellen Datlow's task in putting together this collection. Sure it must be a fantastic job having to comb through oodles and oodles of genre shorts but I'd imagine narrowing it Horror fans rejoice! The latest installment of the Best Horror of the Year is out now. From haunted houses and weird science to old fashioned revenge with a twist, The Best Horror of the Year, v 6 features an all new and unique collection of horror shorts sure to satisfy fans of every facet of the genre! I don't envy editor Ellen Datlow's task in putting together this collection. Sure it must be a fantastic job having to comb through oodles and oodles of genre shorts but I'd imagine narrowing it down to a workable collection must be quite difficult. And yet she has managed to do so, producing a collection that highlights original shorts published throughout 2013. Here's a full list of the stories and a very, very brief nutshell description for you: "Apports" by Stephen Bacon, a revenge tale with a supernatural twist "Mr. Splitfoot" by Dale Bailey, two Spiritualist sisters and one unspeakable crime "The Good Husband" by Nathan Ballingrud, a husband who will do anything for his wife "The Tiger" by Nina Allan, a man recently freed from prison comes face to face with a new evil. "The House on Cobb Street" by Lynda E. Rucker, an eerie twist on the haunted house tale "The Soul in the Bell Jar" by KJ Kabza, a tale of mad science "Call Out" by Steve Toase, a vet is faced with a creature he's only heard about in legends "The Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love" by Robert Shearman, a bizarre tale of love and punishment "Bones of Crow" by Ray Cluley, an incredibly bizarre tale of discovery and loss "Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales" by Jeannine Hall Gailey, a poem "The Fox" by Conrad Williams, in which a family vacation takes a dark turn "The Tin House" by Simon Clark, the crimes of a family's past are never forgotten "Stemming the Tide" by Simon Stranzas, a chilling tale about what lives beneath the surface of still waters "The Anatomist's Mnemonic" by Priya Sharma, a fetish becomes an obsession "The Monster Makers" by Steve Rasnic Tem, a family with an odd talent "The Only Ending We Have" by Kim Newman, a strange tale featuring a "cameo" by Hitchcock himself "The Dog's Paw" by Derek Künsken, a story in which shame has become a very visible punishment "Fine in the Fire" by Lee Thomas, a brother's past suffering becomes a present day horror "Majorlena" by Jane Jakeman, military horror! "The Withering" by Tim Casson, a Victorian ghost story - of a kind "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gaiman, Gaiman's twist on a classic Grimm tale "Jaws of Saturn" by Laird Barron, the stuff of nightmares "Halfway Home" by Linda Nagata "The Same Deep Waters as You" by Brian Hodge, Innsmouth! Some of my favorites include: Brian Hodge's tale - love, love, loved this one. Hodge, by the way, is an author I've only really just discovered (through anthologies!) and I have to say I am incredibly impressed by his work; "The Soul in the Bell Jar" by KJ Kabza was a fabulously creepy story with more than just a little hint of gothic undertone; Lynda E. Rucker's "The House on Cobb Street" because I love a good haunted house story and THIS is a good haunted house story; and "Jaws of Saturn" which is completely weird and probably NOT the best story to read at bedtime - also my first time reading Barron but I already have the collection this story originally appeared in in my TBR.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    "The body is a place of violence. Wolf teeth, amputated hands. Cover yourself with a cloak of leaves, a coat of a thousand furs, a paper dress. The dark forest has a code. The witch sometimes dispenses advice, sometimes eats you for dinner, sometimes turns your brother to stone." So writes Jeannine Hall Gailey, in her prose poem, "Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales," one of the may fine selections in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six, edited by Ellen Datlow. That passage is very repres "The body is a place of violence. Wolf teeth, amputated hands. Cover yourself with a cloak of leaves, a coat of a thousand furs, a paper dress. The dark forest has a code. The witch sometimes dispenses advice, sometimes eats you for dinner, sometimes turns your brother to stone." So writes Jeannine Hall Gailey, in her prose poem, "Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales," one of the may fine selections in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six, edited by Ellen Datlow. That passage is very representative of the work displayed here, much of which displays a simmering evil beneath the surface. What's scary is not so much what it detailed, but what is left out. I suppose you could call this creepy, but it's also a presentation of craft. I think of "The Good Husband," by Nathan Ballingrad, about a man who keeps his wife "alive," even while she is decomposing. Or "The Dog's Paw," by Derek Kunsken, about a village of Africans who are gaining canine limbs. Or "The Anatomist's Mnemonic," by Priya Sharma, about a man who has a thing for hands. As I flip through the book, almost all of the 23 stories have something good to offer. I think the strongest ones are the longer, almost novella length ones. "Jaws of Saturn," by Laird Barron, has a great opening line: "'The other night I dreamt about this lowlife I used to screw," Carol said." Later, he manages to describe the lighting of a cigarette in a way I've never seen before: "Franco flipped open his lighter and set fire to a cigarette." The story concerns a mob tough guy who goes head to head with a warlock, and loses badly. I was captivated by the first half of the story, but it gets far too disorienting by the end. "That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love" fulfills the creepy quotient. It's about a young girl who executes her dolls, by her brother's insistence. In a different vein is "The Only Ending We Have," which takes a (fictional) look at the body double used in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, who happens to be driving alone on a rainy night when she comes across a spooky motel. There's three stories that I think really stand out. One is a sequel of sorts to H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," titled "The Same Deep Waters as You," by Brian Hodge. This story finds a host of a TV animal show called upon to try to communicate with some creatures that are being held by the government. If you know Lovecraft, you know these creatures are very strange looking. It's even more creepy when you realize they were once human. I also commend Tim Casson's "The Withering," in which a cynical reporter tags along as a kind of necromancer, carrying around the dehydrated husk of a small child, attempts to contact a murder victim to clear the name of her alleged killer. The writing here is fast-paced, but the spookiness is intact. Finally, there's "The Soul in the Bell Jar," by KJ Kabza, about a young girl who is sent to live in her great-uncle's house. He's some kind of scientist, and what she finds in his rambling old house, well, let's just say that the title is literal. All in all, Datlow has assembled an excellent collection.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    A 3.75 rounded up. I have to say that imho, this is the best of Ms. Datlow's Best Horror of the Year collections so far. Sure, there are some stories that didn't work for me, but that's to be expected in an anthology. Recommended for readers of horror who prefer to be frightened cerebrally rather than by gore splattered all over the pages. My favorite in this book: "The House on Cobb Street", by Lynda E. Rucker. Listed below is the table of contents; I've given an overview at my reading journal' A 3.75 rounded up. I have to say that imho, this is the best of Ms. Datlow's Best Horror of the Year collections so far. Sure, there are some stories that didn't work for me, but that's to be expected in an anthology. Recommended for readers of horror who prefer to be frightened cerebrally rather than by gore splattered all over the pages. My favorite in this book: "The House on Cobb Street", by Lynda E. Rucker. Listed below is the table of contents; I've given an overview at my reading journal's weird fiction/horror page so if you want the long version, feel free to click through. “Apports” by Stephen Bacon “Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey “The Good Husband” by Nathan Ballingrud “The Tiger” by Nina Allan “The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker “The Soul in the Bell Jar” by K.J. Kabza “Call Out” by Stephen Toase “That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman “Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley “Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales” by Jeannine Hall Gailey “The Fox” by Conrad Williams “The Tin House” by Simon Clark “Stemming the Tide” by Simon Strantzas “The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” by Priya Sharma “The Monster Makers” by Steve Rasnic Tem “The Only Ending We Have” by Kim Newman “The Dog’s Paw” by Derek Künsken “Fine in the Fire” by Lee Thomas “Majorlena” by Jane Jakeman “The Withering” by Tim Casson “Down to a Sunless Sea” by Neil Gaiman “Jaws of Saturn” by Laird Barron “Halfway Home” by Linda Nagata and “The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge

  27. 5 out of 5

    The rockabilly werewolf from Mars

    As expected for this series, most of the stories are quite good. There are stories by two of my favourite writers (Newman and Gaiman), but unfortunately, there was also one story which I strongly disliked. The Fox is that story. I don't like stories that center around animal cruelty, and since foxes are my favourite animals, this one was doubly unpleasant for me. A good thing about the anthology (and the whole series) is that most of the stories are more atmosphere driven than action driven, whi As expected for this series, most of the stories are quite good. There are stories by two of my favourite writers (Newman and Gaiman), but unfortunately, there was also one story which I strongly disliked. The Fox is that story. I don't like stories that center around animal cruelty, and since foxes are my favourite animals, this one was doubly unpleasant for me. A good thing about the anthology (and the whole series) is that most of the stories are more atmosphere driven than action driven, which gives credence to my argument that extreme horror is effectively dead. I, for one, don't miss it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    Ellen Datlow is a remarkable name in fiction. To my knowledge, I’ve never read a single piece of fiction by her (I don’t know that she’s written any) but all I have to do is see “Edited by Ellen Datlow” on a cover of an anthology, and I will buy it on the spot, sight-unseen. There are many amazing editors in the world, but in my humble opinion, she tops them all. I doubt I’d get much argument on this point. Her eye for horror fiction is particularly astute (it links up to my own tastes very well Ellen Datlow is a remarkable name in fiction. To my knowledge, I’ve never read a single piece of fiction by her (I don’t know that she’s written any) but all I have to do is see “Edited by Ellen Datlow” on a cover of an anthology, and I will buy it on the spot, sight-unseen. There are many amazing editors in the world, but in my humble opinion, she tops them all. I doubt I’d get much argument on this point. Her eye for horror fiction is particularly astute (it links up to my own tastes very well), and this year it’s as razor sharp as ever. Best Horror of the Year 6 contains stories by people like Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, Nina Allan and Brian Hodge, and every story is excellent. They vary from each other, they are deep and intelligent and very definitely horror. Her record for editing staggering anthologies continues unabated. This is well worth your time. On a personal note, my copy was given to me by the Book Rioters who descended on the Book Expo America last year (Book Rioters are the best people in the world. You know this.) It is signed and personalized to me. I cannot convey how I geeked out about that. I’ve been a fan of Ellen Datlow since I was 15 or so. This anthology is a thing I will grab if the house catches on fire. -Peter Damien From Best Books of 2014: http://bookriot.com/2014/12/02/riot-r...

  29. 4 out of 5

    C McDaniel

    I usually enjoy the anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow, and (as another reviewer mentioned) these "Best of the Year" collections are a bit of a crap-shoot in general. In the past, though, I've always found two or three stories that saved the volume for me. I can't say that with this one. The selections were just so boring--and I don't say that lightly/flippantly. I think I have a great deal of patience with Horror Fiction since a lot of the Weird Fiction I'm drawn to in that genre relies on atmo I usually enjoy the anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow, and (as another reviewer mentioned) these "Best of the Year" collections are a bit of a crap-shoot in general. In the past, though, I've always found two or three stories that saved the volume for me. I can't say that with this one. The selections were just so boring--and I don't say that lightly/flippantly. I think I have a great deal of patience with Horror Fiction since a lot of the Weird Fiction I'm drawn to in that genre relies on atmosphere and description/details for its effect. My patience wore thin quickly with these stories, sadly. Maybe it was their ordering that threw off the pacing for me (?); I'm not sure. Whatever the case, it was difficult to finish. As for positives, I have a soft spot, of course, for Brian Hodge's Mythos story; it's included in another of Datlow's collections, "Lovecraft's Monsters," a much, much better set of tales. "The Fox" by William Conrad is well-structured and created a nice bit of tension up until the end, and I have a "thing" for nature-revenge anyway. While the rest (individually) weren't "terrible" by any stretch of the imagination, they simply didn't appeal to me at all when lined-up together this way. Check out some of the earlier "Best of the Year" anthologies; there are quite a few with some excellent content.

  30. 5 out of 5

    B. Barron

    Some really, REALLY good stories toward the end of the book, but overall I was a bit underwhelmed. Overall it gets a 3.25 which I am rounding down. Apports (Stephen Bacon): ** Mr. Splitfoot (Dale Bailey): ** The Good Husband (Nathan Ballingrud): *** The Tiger (Nina Allan): ** The House on Cobb Street (Lynda E. Rucker): ***½ The Soul in the Bell Jar (KJ Kabza): *** [I would love to have it as a Fantasy Setting] Call Out (Steve Toase): *** That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love (Robert Shearm Some really, REALLY good stories toward the end of the book, but overall I was a bit underwhelmed. Overall it gets a 3.25 which I am rounding down. Apports (Stephen Bacon): ** Mr. Splitfoot (Dale Bailey): ** The Good Husband (Nathan Ballingrud): *** The Tiger (Nina Allan): ** The House on Cobb Street (Lynda E. Rucker): ***½ The Soul in the Bell Jar (KJ Kabza): *** [I would love to have it as a Fantasy Setting] Call Out (Steve Toase): *** That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love (Robert Shearman): ** Bones of Crow (Ray Cluley): ** Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales (Jeannine Hall Gailey): *** The Tin House (Simon Clark): ***½ The Fox (Conrad Williams): ** Stemming the Tide (Simon Strantzas): **½ The Anatomist's Mnemonic (Priya Sharma): **** The Monster Makers (Steve Rasnic Tem): ***½ The Only Ending We Have (Kim Newman): *** The Dog's Paw (Derek Künsken): *** Fine in the Fire (Lee Thomas): ***** Majorlena by Jane Jakeman: **** The Withering (Tom Casson): ***** Down to a Sunless Sea (Neil Gaiman): ****½ Jaws of Saturn (Lair Barron): ****½ Halfway Home (Linda Nagata): **** The Same Deep Waters As You (Brian Hodge): ****

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.