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This collection features the most comprehensive yearly overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations, an impressively researched necrology, and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated reader and budding writer alike. This is the very best of new short stories and novellas by today's masters of the macabre. Contributors include such names a This collection features the most comprehensive yearly overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations, an impressively researched necrology, and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated reader and budding writer alike. This is the very best of new short stories and novellas by today's masters of the macabre. Contributors include such names as Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Brian Keene, Michael Marshall Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, Elizabeth Massie, Glen Hirshberg, Peter Atkins, and Tanith Lee. This is required reading for any fan of ghoulish fiction.


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This collection features the most comprehensive yearly overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations, an impressively researched necrology, and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated reader and budding writer alike. This is the very best of new short stories and novellas by today's masters of the macabre. Contributors include such names a This collection features the most comprehensive yearly overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations, an impressively researched necrology, and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated reader and budding writer alike. This is the very best of new short stories and novellas by today's masters of the macabre. Contributors include such names as Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Brian Keene, Michael Marshall Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, Elizabeth Massie, Glen Hirshberg, Peter Atkins, and Tanith Lee. This is required reading for any fan of ghoulish fiction.

30 review for Best New Horror 19

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    So, another great honking annual anthology. Which is a wonderful tradition, even if any particular one is a mixed bag. Let's look inside, shall we? This is a big book, it may take a while... Firstly - this is the first time I've really appreciated what the thorough (some would say too thorough) "Year In..." section is for. Yes, if you don't care, it can seem a bit like being rooked by having to skip past (in this case) 80 pages of material before starting the stories. But Jones is the only one of So, another great honking annual anthology. Which is a wonderful tradition, even if any particular one is a mixed bag. Let's look inside, shall we? This is a big book, it may take a while... Firstly - this is the first time I've really appreciated what the thorough (some would say too thorough) "Year In..." section is for. Yes, if you don't care, it can seem a bit like being rooked by having to skip past (in this case) 80 pages of material before starting the stories. But Jones is the only one offering this overview of the year that was and while actually *reading* it may be daunting (best dipped into in little bits), it does provide a nice way to find out if the stated plots of many, many horror novels (and comics, and movies, and TV, and plays) seem worth your time. Plus, it allows for the occasional stock-taking of trends (Jones' dismay over the blossoming "paranormal romance" subegenre, put into stark relief by how repetitious the plots sound when laid end to end, is appreciated). The same is true of the Necrology (which, with the "Useful Addresses" section, comprise another 60 pages at the end of the book) - it allows you to stop and consider all the ways creative people have touched your life, even as you realize they're gone. Still, I could easily see all 140 pages of this stuff eventually being relegated to "supplementary internet-only material" to save costs - but it *is* worthwhile. Secondly - in this age of instant access thanks to the internet, there are endless chances for artistic people to get into snits, spats, fights and feuds, and the horror genre is no different. I generally stay out of this stuff - there's nothing really to be gained besides general observations about how stylistic cliques and generations will always clash. I mention this simply because Jones' brings it up at the end of the "Year" segment and, although he talks around it, one of the arguments seems to be that his BEST NEW forum is cliqueish and doesn't represent the "best" of "new" horror writing, so much as it represents the best stories by writers he likes, in styles he likes and that, say, Ramsey Campbell is *always* going to get a slot in each year's book, even if he writes a few mediocre stories that year. Now, to some degree, this is really just the prerogative of the editor - he's worked hard and he has a sensibility like anyone else and he'll push that sensibility. It's why they race horses after all. But I bring this up also because, for the first time in a while, after reading this edition, I kind of agree with the complaint. And I say that as someone who *likes* Jones' sensibility, likes certain styles that other (mostly younger) horror readers find boring or underwhelming (quiet horror, psychological, etc.). But while there were only 2 stories here I felt were just mediocre, there were quite a number (almost half) that I felt were good but somewhat flawed - sometimes a little too wordy, sometimes a little familiar, sometimes a little too vague, sometimes a little too *little*. The two mediocre stories? "Pumpkin Night" by Gary McMahon has its creepy moments, but the story of the surviving member of a serial child-killing couple and his efforts to resurrect his significant other seemed a little thin. David A. Sutton's "The Fisherman" starts promisingly, as a newlywed couple vacation at an English village and sight the town looney, an aged fisherman who continually trawls the bay for his missing wife (who, rumor has it, he may have killed). There's some evocative imagery (the fisherman tussling in the moonlit surf with some strange "something" he's netted) and possibly some fruitful metaphor to be teased out about strained relationships and insecure love, but the climactic scene has such confused writing at crucial points that it fumbles the ball. Honestly, I'm left to wonder if there was a printing error, the character position change is so abrupt. Now we reach the good but flawed stories, where problems mostly arise in the endings. Michael Marshall Smith's well-written story of a canny survivalist, "The Things He Said", suffers only because three years on from this publication the "zombie apocalypse" has become a far-too well-worn plot point, and so has lost some punch. While on vacation (come to think about it, there's a lot of vacationing people in this anthology), a woman swims out to "The Church On The Island" and discovers its secret and how she fits into the plan. This story by Simon Kurt Unsworth is executed nicely and starts with a solid, Robert Aickman feel, although the final "reveal" is a bit familiar, reminding me of Walter de la Mare's story "All Hallows". Ray Bradbury's work initially seems to inform "The Twilight Express", with its transient circus setting, but Christopher Fowler's characters are older and more corrupt and in the end the story shakes out more like a Rod Serling morality play - solid but uninspiring. "The Other Village" by Simon Strantzas, in which bickering friends on vacation in Greece decide to visit an island for "something different", is another tale that starts with a Robert Aickman vibe but I found some of the writing clunky and repetitive at times and the ending, while nicely deployed in the specific, seemed a little easy. "13 O'Clock" by Mike O'Driscoll, in which a couple is concerned about their son's increasingly disturbing nightmares, which the father feels may be somehow related to his own past, is very compelling at points (including a hide-and-seek game that momentarily becomes tense and a well-written, dream-like ending) but still, I felt the sum total was a bit un-fulfilling given the build-up. I've liked previous stories by Joel Lane and the shortish "Still Water" begins with a nice feeling of urban decay as cops track a gang of jewel thieves to an abandoned row house abutting some swamps, only to find a single thief left, babbling about a woman who emerged from the walls. Quasi-disturbing, it still seemed to be missing some "oomph". A young couple visit some new friends they met in the park and suspect that things in the home might not be as they seem in Nicholas Royle's "Lancashire" - a short, tight piece with a hanging ending that is both kind of creepy and not very satisfying. "The Admiral's House" is, in some sense, a typical "revenge from beyond the grave for past wrongs" story - although author Marc Lecard's writing is very strong and I like how the guilt wreaks emotional, and not physical, damage. But still, a bit familiar. Mark Samuels takes a jaundiced look at overzealous H.P. Lovecraft fans in "A Gentleman From Mexico", as a horror story publisher is contacted by a washed-up cult writer who's looking to sell some short fiction from a mysterious third party. It's an odd story, with some juicy publishing gossip and a Lovecraft imitator who isn't - but again, the ending, eh. "Tight Wrappers" by Conrad Williams follows a Ramsey Campbell-esque blueprint: main character is socially maladjusted misfit with an obsession (in this case, book collecting) and we follow him on his rounds as something nasty in his psychological past (involving scaffolds) percolates in the background. Nicely observed character work but, again, the payoff needed just a little more. There were two oddities in the "kinda good" ranking. "This Rich Evil Sound" by Steven Erikson had some absolutely beautiful writing in its description of a trapper visiting his friend's isolated cabin in the Canadian wilderness. I just didn't feel that the "horror" was sold particularly strongly - it struck me as more of a morose modern lit piece (excellent for that, though). And then we have Neil Gaiman's entry - which is a chapter from The Graveyard Book (specifically the chapter titled "The Witch's Headstone"). Now, I'm not too big a fan of excerpts and chapters passed off as stories in their own right. Oh, I know that the argument will be made that everything's there for the reader to enjoy the segment on its own but, honestly, this felt like it was included simply to have something in the volume by "hot name" Gaiman. The piece is fine - a young ghost-boy (I assume) feels he owes a debt to the ghost of a witch and endeavors to get her a headstone (which she lacks, having been buried in the unconsecrated ground section of the graveyard). There's Gaiman's usual bright, sharp writing - although I've never been that big a fan outside of SANDMAN, which I bought off the stands. This is essentially quite nice and serviceable "dark fantasy" but just because it uses characters from horror (ghosts, witches, a vampire - I assume, guardian spirits) doesn't make it horror. Oh, there's a more palpable threat implied from the novel's actual bad guy for a few pages, but since that pays off in the rest of the book and not here, it doesn't count. The solidly good stories are as follows: The formula I described above for a typical Ramsey Campbell story is here utilized by the man himself in "Peep" - a distinct, prosaic psychological/personal dynamic (a grandfather struggles to prove to his daughter and disdainful son-in-law that he's capable of overseeing his grandchildren) foregrounded over creepy details of psychological trauma (the death of a controlling aunt in his youth who had undermined his self confidence) that gradually well-up and insinuate themselves into the main narrative. Well done, with a disturbing ending of impotent fear, failure and capitulation. Tim Pratt's "From Around Here" is more on the "Dark Fantasy" side of things, as it uses horror elements (which I won't reveal here - unlike the author himself in the introduction!) but isn't dedicated to invoking fear or disturbance so much as telling a story that touches on those elements. This is one of the few times I've read a "series character" story where I felt I'd actually like to read more stories with the character - although for a story/series concept that is consciously built on evoking a sense of place, I felt there needed to be a bit more attention paid to that aspect (again, to say more would be spoilery but a "sense of place" is more than a variety of populace). "Man, You Gotta See This!" by Tony Richards is a brief, engagingly pulpy piece in which two thieves discover a cache of oddly hypnotic paintings. Gets in, gets out, does the job. A young girl packed into the back of a station wagon with her brother for a long drive to their new home begins to suspect that the people driving are, somehow, no longer her parents in Glen Hirshberg's "Miss Ill-Kept Runt". Really well done, this is one of those stories that flips everything around in the end. Joe R. Lansdale turns in a nice, pulpy weird western tale in "Deadman's Road", in which a gunslinging, cynical preacher (feels like another serial character) and a young deputy take on a ghoulish monster in old Texas. It's an enjoyable, colorful yarn that gives you exactly what you're expecting. "Loss" by Tom Piccirilli is, stylistically, something like a mix of hardboiled noir and David Lynch. A failed writer works as a handyman at an old New York City apartment building with a strange history and many odd tenants. The top floor penthouse is owned by the handyman's estranged friend and fellow writer, now a successful novelist. It's a compelling, interesting piece with a strong voice as the narrator seems to crack under multiple pressures. Different but fun. Finally, although I love Kim Newman's non-fiction (his Nightmare Movies: A Critical Guide to Contemporary Horror Films is hands down the best book ever written on modern horror films), I was a little wary of his long (pretty much a novella) piece here, "Cold Snap", as the introduction provided all kinds of footnotes to the multiple series characters (from a variety of Newman's books including Mysteries of the Diogenes Club, The Man from the Diogenes Club,The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, etc.) that featured here, then the story itself had a similar introductory key, then there were references to all these previous occult investigator adventures "in story" as well. Yes, it all comes off as a bit fanboy/comic booky/LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN-ish, as seemingly every character from every book Newman's written is name-checked in a big pulp/occult/superhero mash-up adventure in the "Newman-verse". And, honestly, I'd also call this fantasy adventure, even with the deaths and black magic and threats to the world. But, having said all that, this was better than I was expecting - a fun romp with a ton of characters. I don't indulge myself in this kind of stuff lightly anymore (too much to read, too little time) but I'm glad someone is doing it with such aplomb. So that leaves the absolutely aces stories, of which there are five. "Behind The Clouds: In Front Of The Sun" by Christopher Harman is a tale that starts in Ramsey Campbell urban dread mode, as a man buys a strange, decorated lamp globe that eventually "hatches out" something awful, at which point the story rapidly moves into full-on cataclysmic horror. There's an especially effective story turn (not really a twist, exactly) right near the end that does a marvelous job cementing the feeling of unnatural apocalypse. Very well done. Rising star Joe Hill gives us "Thumbprint" in which a female MP, late out of service from Abu Graib prison, adjusts (or not) to life at home. But someone is leaving pictures of thumbprints for her to find. There's great psychological writing here, with realistic characters motivated by dubious moral underpinnings. Very dark stuff, expertly told. "The Children Of Monte Rosa" by Reggie Oliver feels both old-fashioned and new in different ways, both to the better for the reader. While on holiday in Portugal, a boy's parents befriend some rather eccentric expats who own a large, isolated villa. As the boy explores the grounds he runs into a strange lad and, later, witnesses a weird tableau of taxidermied animals in glass cases. A load of creepy details make this one a solid chiller. In Joel Knight's "Calico Black, Calico Blue", a man finds a strange doll on the doorstep of his apartment and then spends an evening with the doll's owner, an even stranger Estonian woman and downstairs tenant of the same building. The dialogue and sense of mood really sell this tale, a solid addition to horror's "creepy doll" sub-genre. Finally, there's the amazing "The Ape's Wife" by Caitlín R. Kiernan. I could argue that, like some other stories above, this was more dark fantasy than horror, but I enjoyed reading it so much that it doesn't matter to me. With a tone and deft touch for the potent symbols that underlie fantasy, something like Angela Carter, Kiernan here weaves a beautiful, troubling, grand story about Ann Darrow, King Kong's reluctant love, seemingly unstuck in time and reality, wandering through a myriad of possible outcomes to the epic narrative of the doomed giant ape. Simply stunning, it helped remind me why I love to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    Normally when I get my copy of Stephen Jones’s annual collection, I dip in and out depending on mood and opportunity. This year I actually read it cover to cover. The ratio of stories I liked to those I didn’t was certainly better than half, but since I don’t want to laboriously go through each tale pointing out merits or flaws, I thought I’d just pick out the ten I’d particularly recommend. That way, if you’re like me in previous years, you won’t be completely in the dark when it comes to which Normally when I get my copy of Stephen Jones’s annual collection, I dip in and out depending on mood and opportunity. This year I actually read it cover to cover. The ratio of stories I liked to those I didn’t was certainly better than half, but since I don’t want to laboriously go through each tale pointing out merits or flaws, I thought I’d just pick out the ten I’d particularly recommend. That way, if you’re like me in previous years, you won’t be completely in the dark when it comes to which tale to read next: The Church on the Island – Simon Kurt Johnson A spooky story of loneliness and fate, with a fantastic Mediterranean backdrop. The way everything just moves on when the protagonist accepts her destiny is a beautifully horrifying touch. Peep – Ramsey Campbell No one can deny that Campbell is a fine writer of the supernatural, I can’t help feeling though that the family depicted in Peep are more terrifying than any of the supernatural elements. From Around Here – Tim Pratt A supernatural visitor comes to town with the intention to right wrongs. If I had to pick out a flaw I’d say that I wished it was longer – and that’s not a bad criticism to have of a short story. Thumbprint – Joe Hill Nifty yarn spun out of the Abu Ghraib scandal. The ending turned in a different direction to that which I’d expected, but it didn’t betray what had gone before. Hill evokes beer-stained lives going nowhere with great skill Lancashire – Nicholas Royle A shorter piece, but one with a fantastic final twist that makes it the most shocking in the collection. The Children of Monte Rosa – Reggie Oliver The setting of Portugal in the 60s is brilliantly evoked, and does serve to differentiate it from its present day companions. Not sure it held together as well as some of the others, but still worth reading for the description of the animal tableaus. This Rich Evil Sound – Steven Erikson Literary horror at its best. You are at the last lines before you can fully comprehend what it’s actually about. Deadman’s Road – Joe R. Lansdale Excellent western horror narrative, which is certainly the most cinematic piece in this collection. Loss – Tom Piccirilli A superb opening line (“The last time I saw the great, secret unrequited love of my life, Gabriella Corben, was the day the talking monkey moved into the Stark House and the guy who lied about inventing aluminium foil took an ice-pick through the frontal lobe.”) leads into a witty and original haunted house story. One of the best in this book. The Ape’s Wife – Caitlín R. Kiernan Dream-like spin on King Kong. Beautifully written, but quite capable of making you wince.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg Kerestan

    I had to put this title down for a while due to a busy life, but like the rest of the "Best New Horror" series, it contains an interesting mixture of gems, oddities and slight disappointments. "Loss," a somewhat surreal story of writers, madness and a talking monkey, is a highlight, as is the unnerving "Calico Blue, Calico Black." Recommended, as usual. (One caveat: apparently the ebook version contains less stories than the paper version; doesn't the usual publishing convention go the other way I had to put this title down for a while due to a busy life, but like the rest of the "Best New Horror" series, it contains an interesting mixture of gems, oddities and slight disappointments. "Loss," a somewhat surreal story of writers, madness and a talking monkey, is a highlight, as is the unnerving "Calico Blue, Calico Black." Recommended, as usual. (One caveat: apparently the ebook version contains less stories than the paper version; doesn't the usual publishing convention go the other way?)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    When I was seven or eight years old, I bought a copy of Best New Horror 3 off a street merchant for a buck or so. The cover depicted the meanest werewolf I’d ever seen, pitch black, fur flying in every direction, with red glowing eyes and shining white fangs, and I had to have the book, even if most of the stories were well beyond my reading level. It wasn’t until a decade later when I finally opened the anthology, expecting some cheap campy schlock that wouldn’t work my brain too hard. Instead, When I was seven or eight years old, I bought a copy of Best New Horror 3 off a street merchant for a buck or so. The cover depicted the meanest werewolf I’d ever seen, pitch black, fur flying in every direction, with red glowing eyes and shining white fangs, and I had to have the book, even if most of the stories were well beyond my reading level. It wasn’t until a decade later when I finally opened the anthology, expecting some cheap campy schlock that wouldn’t work my brain too hard. Instead, true to its title, Best New Horror 3 turned out to be some of the best horror I had ever read. Although some of the stories missed their mark, almost every last story was wildly inventive and original in ways which I had not known possible in literature, having mostly read classics and mass-market paperbacks at that point in my life. I never knew literature could be as disturbing as Grant Morrison’s The Braille Encyclopedia, nor did I know that the very form of writing could be used as masterfully as it was in Michael Marshall Smith’s The Dark Land, where the style of the writing itself was used to simulate the surreal feel of a dream. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 (covering 2007) is a bit of a disappointment compared to that previous edition. To be fair, this edition has a better batting average than that previous installment – there’s really only one story in the entire volume that misses the mark – but most of the stories are rather lackluster and mediocre, and that unwavering originality that made even the worst stories in Best New Horror 3 stand out is missing from this volume. Most of the stories are good but forgettable, a little frightening but still predictable. Christopher Harman’s Behind the Clouds: In Front of the Sun is the only complete miss in the book, but what a miss it is. It took me almost as long to read this one story as it did the rest of the anthology. With its overabundance of flowery language, extreme hyperbole and unsubtly (seriously, the collector’s name is “Proffit”?), the writing seems really amateurish and is a slog to get through. The flowery obtuseness of the writing, where a simple action like waking up is awkwardly put forth as “The computer’s querulous hums voiced Proffit’s reluctance to face the day”, seems to be a deliberate attempt to capture the frenetic bombast of the squalid city setting and otherworldly events therein, but it just makes the story unreadable. The rest of the stories fare better, most of them satisfyingly creepy but forgettable, most pretty sedate in terms of content and treading familiar ground. Fittingly, a lot of the stories in this volume follow a Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt formula, where a series of seemingly normal events build up to a creepy if predictable twist that reveals things are far more sinister than they appear. The Church on the Island and The Other Side both feature vacations gone awry and have endings which pack a real punch, but it’s a punch you can see coming. Same goes for The Things He Said, a post-apocalyptic zombie tale which would be a lot more shocking with a less revealing title. Man, You Gotta See This doesn’t resemble a Twilight Zone episode so much as it does a cheesy d-grade knockoff like Tales from the Darkside, with its cheesy tale of paintings infused with an infectious evil. Pumpkin Night is only a few pages long and still manages to be predictable, but has the distinction of being the only real nasty story in the bunch and uses the topic of child murder to skeeve the reader out. Its blunt and unsubtle, but it gets the job done. Still, nothing can beat Lacashire, which exchanges the violent nastiness of Pumpkin Night for a more disturbing cerebral horror, one that will hit close to home for anyone with loved ones. Lacashire is without a doubt the best story in the bunch here, and although there may not be much to it, it strikes the perfect balance between mystery and plausibility to be truly disturbing. A couple old hoary clichés show up throughout several of the stories, the worst of which is the “special” protagonist who just knows something is wrong despite everything seeming fine. A woman on her honeymoon in The Fisherman seems to have this special intuitiveness concerning the titular fisherman who trolls the bay, but the cliché reaches its pinnacle in 13 O’Clock, where a dad goes crazy and almost ruins his marriage because his young son starts having nightmares. Of course the dad is right in the end and there is something more sinister afoot, as well as an explanation for his zany behavior, but that doesn’t make any of it seem any less absurd. Several of the stories adhere to an “urban legend” formula, where characters recount chilling events that happened to them, most involving ghosts. There’s nothing wrong with Still Water or The Admiral’s House, but they are essentially more bloated remixes of old campfire ghost stories. Despite the pedestrian nature of much of this volume, there are several truly original albeit flawed stories. Both The Ape’s Wife and A Gentleman From Mexico are interesting odes to the authors’ influences, King Kong and H.P Lovecraft respectively, and while the former is too experimental to work as an effective story and the latter a little too silly, I appreciate what they were attempting. The Children of Monte Rosa, Calico Black Calico Blue, and Cold Snap are all fairly formulaic in structure, but have enough chilling oddities and inventiveness within to be very intriguing reads, being about a strange xenophobic couple with creepy dioramas, a seductive doll-obsessed lady, and a group of magical talents battling ancient entities and evil snowmen, respectively. The Children of Monte Rosa, in particular, unnerved me despite, or in spite of, me not knowing what quite happened. From Around Here has a great concept, centering on a God who takes human-form to track down and destroy malevolent demons, but it felt a little too stunted for its epic subject matter and would probably work better as a novel. Loss is the most oddly intriguing of the stories in Best New Horror 19, featuring a feud between two old friends which involves an assortment of colorful characters and a talking monkey, although the ending left me feeling confused and let down. It might have just been over my head. Most of the other stories are good, even great, if nothing exceptional. I’m not the biggest fan of Joe Hill, having found most of his work kind of amateurish and half-baked, but Thumbprint is an effective chiller, a little more generic than typical of his work, but more effective for it. He deftly mines the real-life horror of Abu Ghraib to craft a chilling tale with a social conscience. Joe R. Lansdale’s Deadman’s Road is pure pulp, following a messenger of God who must dispatch of ancient evil in the Old West. Lansdale infuses the snappy dialogue and hard-boiled leading man of a Dashiell Hammet novel with a horror sensibility and Western movie trappings, and the result is a lot of fun. This Rich Evil Sound can barely be constituted as horror, but what a great piece of work it is, one which isn’t apparent to its very last devastating line. Overall, Best New Horror 19 is a great anthology, although it pales in comparison to the precedent set by the previous installment I’ve read. There are fewer misses, but the hits are less interesting and not one of the stories in this volume has lingered with me to the same effect that Ma Qui or The Braille Encyclopedia have from Best New Horror 3. This volume feels kind of soft. GREAT: Lacashire, Deadman’s Road, Pumpkin Night, The Children of Monte Rosa, Loss GOOD: From Around Here, The Other Village, Thumbprint, Calico Black Calico Blue, This Rich Evil Sound, Miss Ill-Kept Runt, Cold Snap. DECENT: The Things He Said, The Church on the Island, Peep, Still Water, The Admiral’s House, The Witche’s Headstone, The Ape’s Wife, Tight Wrappers POOR: The Twilight Express, 13 O’Clock, Man You Gotta See This, The Fisherman, A Gentleman from Mexico, BAD: Behind the Clouds: In Front of the Sun

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vrinda Pendred

    I've had this on the shelf for over 10 years and finally took it down to read. I skipped the introduction and went straight to the stories - I prefer to read introductions after I've read the book, and this introduction was LONG. The stories got off to a fun start, but after enjoying the first two, the others I read followed the same frustrating pattern as nearly all short stories I've read, if they were written after maybe the 1980s: they just didn't seem to go anywhere. I don't know why, but i I've had this on the shelf for over 10 years and finally took it down to read. I skipped the introduction and went straight to the stories - I prefer to read introductions after I've read the book, and this introduction was LONG. The stories got off to a fun start, but after enjoying the first two, the others I read followed the same frustrating pattern as nearly all short stories I've read, if they were written after maybe the 1980s: they just didn't seem to go anywhere. I don't know why, but it seems that after a certain point in time, the publishing industry decided stories don't need resolution or a point. It's like watching 'Lost' over and over and over again. Also frustrating to me was that for at least the first 120 pages of stories, every writer was from the UK (apart from one Canadian) - and Ramsey Campbell was described as the world's most famous horror writer. Really?? Is that why when I go into any bookstore (and I'm in the UK, so this isn't a cultural thing), the horror section is virtually barren apart from Stephen King? I have never seen Campbell in a bookstore in my life. Clearly, he's known to avid horror fans, but he has NEVER been the world's most famous horror writer. Also, someone tell me where all the female writers are - not in here! So much bias in this collection. It seems there's a Joe Hill story in there, after the point I quit, which I'll check out. Otherwise, I'm done with these anthologies. With all of that in mind, below are my thoughts on what I read before I decided life is too short and I could be reading better things. There are spoilers from this point onward. ...................................... The Things He Said by Michael Marshall Smith - darkly hilarious, great final line, drew itself out really nicely. The Church on the Island by Simon Kurt Unsworth - I predicted the ending as soon as the old man started showing her around, but I didn't guess the pit of darkness - made me smile at the idea and how Lovecraftian it was in description and concept. The Twilight Express by Christopher Fowler - it's okay. I liked the ending line, summing up the point. It was a good metaphor. I just found the story terribly sad from start to finish. Peep by Ramsey Campbell - didn't entirely understand it, yet it was deeply unsettling on a human level and very sad. From Around Here by Tim Pratt - interesting idea, although a bit eh to read. Sad. I did wonder if Oswald was like Osiris (underworld god, cut into pieces)...but it wasn't particularly exciting in execution. Pumpkin Night by Gary McMahon - awful, sick and unnecessary. This was the point I nearly put down the book, but then I carried on through two more pointless stories. I don't know why I bothered. If this story was one of the anthologist's favourite horror stories of the year, it tells me something about the anthologist - namely, that I don't trust his taste at all. I don't want this story in my house - bad, bad energy, I guess you could say. The Other Village by Simon Strantzas - vague and pointless. The author is quoted as saying the way the ending wrote itself still gives him shivers - why??? Nothing really happens. 13 O'clock - Mike O'Driscoll - creepy but then went nowhere, made little sense with so much left unexplained, and the end was not nearly as interesting as the one I thought up for it early on. I might write that one myself, someday.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 “The Things He Said” by Michael Marshall Smith A man recounts his daily schedule from living in the wilderness, how his father’s teachings have influenced him to adjust and make the best of his life despite his gruesome means. 3/5 “The Church on the Island” by Simon Kurt Unsworth A woman vacationing with her husband in Greece explores a Church on an island only to discover what she was destined for and a life she must leave behind. 3/5 “The Twilight Express” by The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 “The Things He Said” by Michael Marshall Smith A man recounts his daily schedule from living in the wilderness, how his father’s teachings have influenced him to adjust and make the best of his life despite his gruesome means. 3/5 “The Church on the Island” by Simon Kurt Unsworth A woman vacationing with her husband in Greece explores a Church on an island only to discover what she was destined for and a life she must leave behind. 3/5 “The Twilight Express” by Christopher Fowler A young man tries to escape his small town and girlfriend by working at a carnival with a ghost train, only to lose sight of the future he wanted. I liked the character’s struggles for change and loss. 4/5 “Peep” by Ramsey Campbell A grandfather gets a visit from his daughter and grandkids, and brings back a childhood game called Peep, but under the grandfather’s conflict with his family, there lurks a childhood memory he hasn’t recovered from. It was okay, but I am getting underwhelmed by Campbell and expecting more. 3/5 “From Around Here” by Tim Pratt Set in an Oakland neighborhood, a drifter named Reva searches for something dark underlying the community while finding a place to stay and interacting with the locales. I found this story engaging and original, enjoyed the supernatural element, the world building, and Reva’s character. 5/5 “Pumpkin Night” by Gary McMahon A man carries on his dead wife’s Halloween tradition while hiding her secrets. 3/5 “The Other Village” by Simon Strantzas Two friends go on a trip to an island with two villages, identical, though one is abandoned. 3/5 “13 O’Clock” by Mike O’Driscoll A father worries about his son with whom he shares a recurring nightmare with. I enjoyed this one, I find dreams engaging, and it was creepy, emotional, and sad with a fitting ending. 5/5 “Still Water” by Joel Lane A supernatural cop story, one in the Black Country series, about missing jewel thieves and madman. 3/5 “Thumbprint” by Joe Hill A soldier’s experience in Iraq has changed her, and the past returns when she starts receiving papers with thumbprints. Joe Hill didn’t disappoint. The protagonist Mal was well-characterized, and the story to be disturbing and creepy in both her recollections of Iraq and of her present life. 5/5 “Lancashire” by Nicholas Royle A family visits some friends, though they hardly know them and something isn’t as it seems when their children go missing. This reminded me of a classic ghost story. 4/5 “The Admiral’s House” by Marc Lecard A widowed man returns home and meets an old friend who discloses a tale of ghostly revenge and guilt. This was my kind of story: ghosts, guilt and loss. 5/5 “Man, You Gotta See This!” by Tony Richards Two friends stumble upon a dead painter’s paintings and share them with everyone only to create a post-apocalyptic world. It was interesting. 4/5 “The Fisherman” by David A. Sutton A married couple stays in a seaside cottage where a fisherman scours the sea in search of his lost wife. I enjoyed the atmosphere. 4/5 “The Children of Monte Rosa” by Reggie Oliver A family vacationing in Portugal meet another English couple who live in a villa in Monte Rosa. I thought it was interesting, but not too notable. 3/5 “The Witch’s Headstone” by Neil Gaiman A boy helps the ghost of a witch to get her a headstone. This is an excerpt from Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book and more on the fantasy side. 3/5 “Calico Black, Calico Blue” by Joel Knight When a doll is left on his door, a man meets its owner, a strange woman who invites her to her apartment full of dolls. This was gripping, bizarre, and creepy. 5/5 “This Rich Evil Sound” by Seven Erikson A young man sets off to stay in the woods during the winter and visits a friend. As Erikson says in the intro, I’m not sure what to make of this story, but the exploding trees fit the theme which I interpreted to mean the fragility of life. 4/5 “Miss Ill-Kept Runt” by Glen Hirshberg A family move away, but Chloe thinks something isn’t right with her parents. In the end, the family is torn apart. I found this a bit difficult to follow. 2/5 “Deadman’s Road” by Joe R. Lansdale Jubil the Reverand travels through Deadman’s Road to ward off the evil that haunts it. This was an interesting supernatural Western I found entertaining. 4/5 “A Gentleman from Mexico” by Mark Samuels In Mexico City, an editor discovers an author’s work which resembles H.P. Lovecraft and appears to be more than mere imitation. I’m not a fan of Lovecraft, but I liked the concept of a dead author returning. 4/5 “Loss” by Tom Piccirilli A story about loneliness, jealousy and self-pity take place in a house with haunted people and murder. All of these elements plus a writer as a protagonist and my interest is engaged. This story delivered. 5/5 “Behind the Clouds: In Front of the Sun” by Christopher Harman Man, some globe, apocalyptic situation, I found it dry and it was my second least favorite story. 1/5 “The Ape’s Wife” by Caitlin R. Kiernan Kiernan’s take on the aftermath of King Kong concerning Ann Darrow is a dream-ridden struggle to find a place she belongs. This story wasn’t for me, but Kiernan’s prose is always a nice read. 2/5 “Tight Wrappers” by Conrad Williams A story about a book collector and scaffolding, though the book collecting is obsession and the scaffolding is haunting. 3/5 “Cold Snap” by Kim Newman The Cold strikes the world and a group of people with supernatural abilities seek to stop it. I couldn’t get into this at all and this was my least favorite (and of all things had to be the novella). 1/5 Like other Jones’s anthologies, I skimmed the Introduction and Necrology. There are 26 stories in total. I’d say this was a consistent anthology with an abundance of average and compelling stories to override the duds. It started off average, got stronger and the weakest were saved for last. 3.5/5

  7. 5 out of 5

    Samuli

    Some of the stories were almost five-star (M.M. Smith's opening story and R. Campbell's haunting piece). Some were OK or even better than OK. There was plenty of mediocre (or worse) pieces in the collection as well. What I really dislike, though, is taking parts of longer stories and masquerading them as short stories (Gaiman's). Also, I usually don't like that half of the short story is just a list of characters and origin stories from other works. A short story should be a complete world in it Some of the stories were almost five-star (M.M. Smith's opening story and R. Campbell's haunting piece). Some were OK or even better than OK. There was plenty of mediocre (or worse) pieces in the collection as well. What I really dislike, though, is taking parts of longer stories and masquerading them as short stories (Gaiman's). Also, I usually don't like that half of the short story is just a list of characters and origin stories from other works. A short story should be a complete world in its own. It doesn't matter, if some characters appear in multiple stories, but if the point of the story (K. Newman's) seems to revolve around the idea of a series, then it loses its independence. Anyway, worth reading, for sure.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    Some stories were good. Some confusing. Two I skipped. I’m tired of looking at it. I read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Teipu

    This was one of the weaker volumes in the Best New Horror series (I've read 4 other volumes so far). Most stories were not particularly scary or creepy, about a quarter were not even Horror, but more like Fantasy or Dark Fantasy. It had some really nice stories though. My Highlights: ~ Peep by Ramsey Campbell (creepy!) ~ From Around Here by Tim Pratt (nice fantasy, I would like to read more about the main character - an island god who lots his island and travels around) ~ Thumbprint by Joe Hill (gru This was one of the weaker volumes in the Best New Horror series (I've read 4 other volumes so far). Most stories were not particularly scary or creepy, about a quarter were not even Horror, but more like Fantasy or Dark Fantasy. It had some really nice stories though. My Highlights: ~ Peep by Ramsey Campbell (creepy!) ~ From Around Here by Tim Pratt (nice fantasy, I would like to read more about the main character - an island god who lots his island and travels around) ~ Thumbprint by Joe Hill (gruesome) ~ The Ape's Wife by Caitlin R. Kiernan And Honorable Mentions: ~ The Other Village by Simon Strantzas ~ Lancashire by Nicholas Royle ~ The Children of Monte Rosa by Reggie Oliver because the three of them felt like the Geisterschocker Horror comics I used to read in elementary school. The ending of most stories were disappointing though. Often anti-climatic, unsatisfying or just an easy way out. I was disappointed that the Neil Gaiman story (The Witch's Headstone) was just a chapter from his The Graveyard Book. I don't want to read excerpts from books, I want to read original short stories (even some of the stories in this collection were published before anyway...) Sometimes it's good to know when to stop. I DNFed the last story (Cold Snap by Kim Newman), but still I'm still shelfing it read, because I read all the other stories. It was a short story based on Newman's Diogenes Club series and as I haven't read any of his other stories I had no idea who all the characters were or what their background is. No fun...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie Cat Books

    This is the fourth or fifth Mammoth book from Stephen Jones that I have read and like the rest, it delivers. Pacing: As with the other Mammoth books, this is filled with many short and long stories, so you get a good variety of action and thrills. One thing to note is that many of the longer stories are subdivided into chapters, so you can read and put it down at your convenience. Characters: These stories run the gambit of ordinary Joes, ex-military characters, and even the superhero variety. So This is the fourth or fifth Mammoth book from Stephen Jones that I have read and like the rest, it delivers. Pacing: As with the other Mammoth books, this is filled with many short and long stories, so you get a good variety of action and thrills. One thing to note is that many of the longer stories are subdivided into chapters, so you can read and put it down at your convenience. Characters: These stories run the gambit of ordinary Joes, ex-military characters, and even the superhero variety. Something for everyone and every taste with a bit if cross-genre thrown in for flavor. Language: Thrilling! I wouldn't describe these stories as gory or bloody, they are more of the thrilling variety. Frame: Most of the stories take place on present day Earth (usually USA or England), though some take place in the past or a bit more sci-fi/fantasy present. Of the stories in the collection I particularly enjoyed Peep (Ramsey Campbell). The "horror in 2007" and "necrology 2007" are always interesting additions to each annual collection. I don't think you can go wrong with a Mammoth Book and this one does not fail to deliver. Fans of Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman will enjoy their contributions to the collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    As ever, a veritable treasure trove of fiction, yearly news round-up and necrology that continues the strong tradition the series has gathered for itself. Also, as ever, some of the fiction appeals and some of it doesn’t. Particular stand-outs for me were “Man, You Gotta See This!” by Tony Richards and “Lancashire” by Nicholas Royle which is so beautifully simple, it’s hard to believe that no-one has done it before. Gary McMahon, Conrad Williams, Tom Pic and Michael Marshall Smith acquit themsel As ever, a veritable treasure trove of fiction, yearly news round-up and necrology that continues the strong tradition the series has gathered for itself. Also, as ever, some of the fiction appeals and some of it doesn’t. Particular stand-outs for me were “Man, You Gotta See This!” by Tony Richards and “Lancashire” by Nicholas Royle which is so beautifully simple, it’s hard to believe that no-one has done it before. Gary McMahon, Conrad Williams, Tom Pic and Michael Marshall Smith acquit themselves well - as do several of the ‘newcomers’ - I didn’t under the Ramsey Campbell (but enjoyed the storytelling) and who, really, needs any more Caitlin Kiernan in their lives? A good volume, maintaining the series quality - roll on number 20!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris McGrath

    I read this specifically to check out Thumbprint by Joe Hill; it was decent, but not as good as some of his other short stories. Not a single 5-star story in this collection for me, though there were a number of 4's, with Michael Marshall Smith's and Joel Knight's sticking out for me as the best of them (Tim Pratt, Neil Gaiman, Glen Hirshberg, Joe R. Lansdale, and Mark Samuels all had good stories as well). Far too many stories I just plain didn't like, however, to get more than 2 stars out of me I read this specifically to check out Thumbprint by Joe Hill; it was decent, but not as good as some of his other short stories. Not a single 5-star story in this collection for me, though there were a number of 4's, with Michael Marshall Smith's and Joel Knight's sticking out for me as the best of them (Tim Pratt, Neil Gaiman, Glen Hirshberg, Joe R. Lansdale, and Mark Samuels all had good stories as well). Far too many stories I just plain didn't like, however, to get more than 2 stars out of me for the collection. I could not bring myself to finish the novella at the end of the book, which did not interest me enough to commit to. Took me more than a year, on and off, to slog through this collection; glad to finally be done with it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I am a great fan of the Mammoth book of best new horror. Of those I have read to date this is one of the weaker offering, I really struggled through the last 150 pages. The final batch of short stories being extremely poor and obscure. Kim Newman finishes of with novella which in no ways I would classify as horror. of a Harry potter teenie story which had absolutely no place here. I must however state that the book is still well worth picking up since the majority of the works are great.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sabella Daiabczenko

    I love short story collections because I like to read a story or two at night before I go to bed - and if I am reading a novel, quite often I will become engrossed in it and stay up much too late. So...anthologies to the rescue! This was an amazing collection of stories. Usually I am happy to find one, possibly two, truly well-written and original stories, but in this collection they were the norm, not the exception. I even found a few new writers to look into. Wow! Highly, highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    Love this collection. My lovely sister-in-law picked it up for me at a school fair, and I was so excited to see that it includes a Ramsey Campbell story that I hadn't yet read! That story, "Peep", was probably my favorite, but I was impressed by most of the stories, and there are many! I love the writing of British horror authors for some reason, so this collection was great for me. Now I just have to track down the other volumes!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    A mixed bag, as one might expect from a collection. Some really very good, others just confusing and/or rather boring. My personal favourites were: 'Peep' by Ramsey Campbell 'Pumpkin Night' by Gary McMahon '13 O'Clock' by Mike O'Driscoll 'Thumbprint' by Joe Hill 'Man, You Gotta See This!' by Tony Richards 'The Witch's Headstone' by Neil Gaiman and 'Tight Wrappers' by Conrad Williams.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Isidore

    Another worthy round-up by Jones, with particularly fine contributions by Piccirilli, Kiernan, Pratt, and Hirshberg (no real surprises there, I suppose); Simon Kurt Unsworth is my pick of the newcomers. The only unreadable item is Kim Newman's lengthy contribution.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    While some of the stories were sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seat, there were quite a few at the end that I skipped through. The very last story I couldn't even follow and felt like I was reading gibberish. Those stories I did read, were excellent.

  19. 4 out of 5

    bluetyson

    The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 (Mammoth Book of Best New Horror) by Steve Jones (2008)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    57th book for 2009! I skipped several of the last short stories, which I found boring. Hence, the meh review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    For the most part, really enjoyed these short stories. Last three were difficult to get through

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barry J.

    A great collection of horror stories from many different types of authour

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eileen G.

    Very effective stories by Mark Samuels, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Tom Piccirilli.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    The kind of Anthology with majority great stories and tiny minority boring ones.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tasha Mahoney

  26. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Thompson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Titus

  29. 4 out of 5

    WooWooSpooky❥

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tarl

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