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Darkness surrounds us. We can find darkness anywhere: in a strange green stone etched with mysterious symbols; at a small town's annual picnic; in a ghostly house that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave; behind the dumpster in the alley where a harpy lives; in The Nowhere, a place where car keys, toys, people disappear to; among Polar explorers; and, most definitely Darkness surrounds us. We can find darkness anywhere: in a strange green stone etched with mysterious symbols; at a small town's annual picnic; in a ghostly house that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave; behind the dumpster in the alley where a harpy lives; in The Nowhere, a place where car keys, toys, people disappear to; among Polar explorers; and, most definitely, within ourselves. Darkness flies from mysterious crates; surrounds children whose nightlights have vanished; and flickers between us at the movie theater. Darkness crawls from the past and is waiting in our future; and there's always a chance that Halloween really is a door opening directly into endless shadow. Welcome to the dark. You may never want to leave. This inaugural volume of the year's best dark fantasy and horror features more than 500 pages of dark tales from some of today's finest writers of the fantastique. Chosen from a variety of sources, these stories are as eclectic and varied as the genre itself. Contents 9 • What the Hell Do You Mean By "Dark Fantasy and Horror?" • essay by Paula Guran 13 • The Horrid Glory of Its Wings • (2009) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bear 23 • Lowland Sea • (2009) • novelette by Suzy McKee Charnas 41 • Copping Squid • (2009) • novelette by Michael Shea 56 • Monsters • (2009) • novelette by Stewart O'Nan 73 • The Brink of Eternity • (2009) • shortstory by Barbara Roden 85 • Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre • (2009) • shortstory by Seth Fried 95 • Sea-Hearts • (2009) • novella by Margo Lanagan 138 • A Haunted House of Her Own • (2009) • shortfiction by Kelley Armstrong 153 • Headstone in Your Pocket • (2009) • shortstory by Paul G. Tremblay [as by Paul Tremblay ] 166 • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown • (2009) • novelette by Holly Black 182 • Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film • (2009) • shortstory by Gary McMahon 190 • A Delicate Architecture • (2009) • shortstory by Catherynne M. Valente 196 • The Mystery • (2009) • shortfiction by Peter Atkins 205 • Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld • (2009) • shortstory by Peter Straub 211 • The Wide, Carnivorous Sky • (2009) • shortfiction by John Langan 251 • Certain Death for a Known Person • (2009) • novelette by Steve Duffy 267 • The Ones Who Got Away • (2009) • shortfiction by Stephen Graham Jones 274 • Leng • (2009) • shortfiction by Marc Laidlaw 292 • Torn Away • (2009) • shortfiction by Joe R. Lansdale 301 • The Nowhere Man • (2009) • shortfiction by Sarah Pinborough 314 • The Bone's Prayer • (2009) • shortstory by Caitlín R. Kiernan 327 • The Water Tower • (2009) • shortstory by John Mantooth 337 • In the Porches of My Ears • (2009) • shortstory by Norman Prentiss 348 • The Cinderella Game • (2009) • shortstory by Kelly Link 355 • The Jacaranda Smile • (2009) • shortstory by Gemma Files 366 • The Other Box • (2009) • shortfiction by Gerard Houarner 388 • White Charles • [Kyle Murchison Booth] • (2009) • novelette by Sarah Monette 406 • Everything Dies, Baby • (2009) • shortstory by Nadia Bulkin 414 • Bruise for Bruise • (2009) • shortstory by Robert Davies 422 • Respects • (2009) • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell 433 • Diamond Shell • (2009) • shortstory by Deborah Biancotti 446 • Nub Hut • (2009) • shortstory by Kurt Dinan 452 • The Cabinet Child • (2009) • shortfiction by Steve Rasnic Tem 458 • Cherrystone & Shards of Ice • (2009) • shortstory by Ekaterina Sedia 469 • The Crevasse • (2009) • shortstory by Nathan Ballingrud and Dale Bailey 482 • Vic • (2009) • shortfiction by Maura McHugh 490 • Halloween Town • (2009) • novella by Lucius Shepard 543 • The Long, Cold Goodbye • (2009) • novelette by Holly Phillips 562 • What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night • (2009) • shortstory by Michael Marshall Smith


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Darkness surrounds us. We can find darkness anywhere: in a strange green stone etched with mysterious symbols; at a small town's annual picnic; in a ghostly house that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave; behind the dumpster in the alley where a harpy lives; in The Nowhere, a place where car keys, toys, people disappear to; among Polar explorers; and, most definitely Darkness surrounds us. We can find darkness anywhere: in a strange green stone etched with mysterious symbols; at a small town's annual picnic; in a ghostly house that is easy to enter but not so easy to leave; behind the dumpster in the alley where a harpy lives; in The Nowhere, a place where car keys, toys, people disappear to; among Polar explorers; and, most definitely, within ourselves. Darkness flies from mysterious crates; surrounds children whose nightlights have vanished; and flickers between us at the movie theater. Darkness crawls from the past and is waiting in our future; and there's always a chance that Halloween really is a door opening directly into endless shadow. Welcome to the dark. You may never want to leave. This inaugural volume of the year's best dark fantasy and horror features more than 500 pages of dark tales from some of today's finest writers of the fantastique. Chosen from a variety of sources, these stories are as eclectic and varied as the genre itself. Contents 9 • What the Hell Do You Mean By "Dark Fantasy and Horror?" • essay by Paula Guran 13 • The Horrid Glory of Its Wings • (2009) • shortstory by Elizabeth Bear 23 • Lowland Sea • (2009) • novelette by Suzy McKee Charnas 41 • Copping Squid • (2009) • novelette by Michael Shea 56 • Monsters • (2009) • novelette by Stewart O'Nan 73 • The Brink of Eternity • (2009) • shortstory by Barbara Roden 85 • Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre • (2009) • shortstory by Seth Fried 95 • Sea-Hearts • (2009) • novella by Margo Lanagan 138 • A Haunted House of Her Own • (2009) • shortfiction by Kelley Armstrong 153 • Headstone in Your Pocket • (2009) • shortstory by Paul G. Tremblay [as by Paul Tremblay ] 166 • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown • (2009) • novelette by Holly Black 182 • Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film • (2009) • shortstory by Gary McMahon 190 • A Delicate Architecture • (2009) • shortstory by Catherynne M. Valente 196 • The Mystery • (2009) • shortfiction by Peter Atkins 205 • Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld • (2009) • shortstory by Peter Straub 211 • The Wide, Carnivorous Sky • (2009) • shortfiction by John Langan 251 • Certain Death for a Known Person • (2009) • novelette by Steve Duffy 267 • The Ones Who Got Away • (2009) • shortfiction by Stephen Graham Jones 274 • Leng • (2009) • shortfiction by Marc Laidlaw 292 • Torn Away • (2009) • shortfiction by Joe R. Lansdale 301 • The Nowhere Man • (2009) • shortfiction by Sarah Pinborough 314 • The Bone's Prayer • (2009) • shortstory by Caitlín R. Kiernan 327 • The Water Tower • (2009) • shortstory by John Mantooth 337 • In the Porches of My Ears • (2009) • shortstory by Norman Prentiss 348 • The Cinderella Game • (2009) • shortstory by Kelly Link 355 • The Jacaranda Smile • (2009) • shortstory by Gemma Files 366 • The Other Box • (2009) • shortfiction by Gerard Houarner 388 • White Charles • [Kyle Murchison Booth] • (2009) • novelette by Sarah Monette 406 • Everything Dies, Baby • (2009) • shortstory by Nadia Bulkin 414 • Bruise for Bruise • (2009) • shortstory by Robert Davies 422 • Respects • (2009) • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell 433 • Diamond Shell • (2009) • shortstory by Deborah Biancotti 446 • Nub Hut • (2009) • shortstory by Kurt Dinan 452 • The Cabinet Child • (2009) • shortfiction by Steve Rasnic Tem 458 • Cherrystone & Shards of Ice • (2009) • shortstory by Ekaterina Sedia 469 • The Crevasse • (2009) • shortstory by Nathan Ballingrud and Dale Bailey 482 • Vic • (2009) • shortfiction by Maura McHugh 490 • Halloween Town • (2009) • novella by Lucius Shepard 543 • The Long, Cold Goodbye • (2009) • novelette by Holly Phillips 562 • What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night • (2009) • shortstory by Michael Marshall Smith

30 review for The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010

  1. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    Fine, solid stories - but kind of predictable. Maybe I'm getting better at predicting stories, but it felt like a lot of these were stories of a particular type without a lot of twist to it. I suspect I'm like, "But there are other anthology editors I especially love, and this is okay but doesn't scratch that itch," and that's all there is to it, and this is perfectly fine but I just can't love it. Any of the stories on their own would be fine...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This was the first volume of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and it is rather sturdy and consistent in its selection of stories. Almost all the stories are very good, but I didn't find anything risky inside. Like all anthologies, it has a couple extraordinary entries, as well as a clunker or two. I actually found one story subpar, but it may be that this story is the risky one and I just didn't get it. In which case, this entire paragraph is founded on false premises. The stories that I This was the first volume of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and it is rather sturdy and consistent in its selection of stories. Almost all the stories are very good, but I didn't find anything risky inside. Like all anthologies, it has a couple extraordinary entries, as well as a clunker or two. I actually found one story subpar, but it may be that this story is the risky one and I just didn't get it. In which case, this entire paragraph is founded on false premises. The stories that I thought stood head and shoulders above the others were: "Monsters" by Stuart O'Nan; "The Jacaranda Smile" by Gemma Files; and " The WaterTower" by John Mantooth. Each of these stories deals with childhood fears and vulnerabilities and none uses supernatural elements to forward its plot. These were the stories that have stayed with me the longest. The Joe R. Lansdale and Marc Laidlaw stories, "Torn Away" and "Leng" respectively, I thought were good enough, but seemed slightly-lesser efforts from these otherwise stellar authors. We also find Peter Straub deep in his "New Horror" stage with "Variations on a Theme from Sienfeld." There are a few stories that overlap other collections: "What Happens When You Wake Up at Night" by Michael Marshall Smith; "The Crevasse" by Dale Baily and Nathan Balingrud; and "In the Porches of My Ears" by Norman Prentiss. These would be collected in one or the other of the Mammoth (Stephen Jones) or Best New Horror (Ellen Datlow) anthologies for 2010. I don't have these books at hand, so I'm sorry for the lack of specificity. A good collection, but this series hits its stride with later editions. If you are a fan of the series, go for it; if you are new to the series or the genre, start with the 2012 or later editions. One final note: some of the stories have editorial problems, most notably among these was "Halloween Town" by Lucius Shepherd. I otherwise loved this story, but found the lack of copy editing infuriating. (The protagonist, Clyde, is referred to as "Cliff" at one point.) Still, this is a thick anthology, so a few mishaps are inevitable, I suppose.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    This is a solid collection with some stories that I loved and none that I hated (although some I liked less, for sure). It’s such a huge collection that I can’t imagine anyone who enjoys horror or fantasy wouldn’t find some stories they like—I now have quite a list of authors whose works I want to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I really expected to enjoy this a lot more than I actually did. I had hoped it would be a throwback to the now defunct "Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" that we all used to know and love... but honestly there were so many selections in here that made no sense that I cannot say that there is very much similarity in quality. I've read other Guran-edited volumes that were a lot more cohesive and engaging than this one, so I will not give up on her by any means. I thought "New Cthulhu: The Recent Weir I really expected to enjoy this a lot more than I actually did. I had hoped it would be a throwback to the now defunct "Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" that we all used to know and love... but honestly there were so many selections in here that made no sense that I cannot say that there is very much similarity in quality. I've read other Guran-edited volumes that were a lot more cohesive and engaging than this one, so I will not give up on her by any means. I thought "New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird" was a great read, for instance. In this book, I enjoyed these stories in particular - however, I must note that I had already read them in other collections, for the most part. Leng, by Mark Laidlaw What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night, Michael Marshall Smith The Wide, Carnivorous Sky by John Langan, which I've seen in quite a few collections at this point Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film, Gary McMahon - great atmosphere. Best story that I had not previously seen was Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan. This woman creates simply gorgeous prose and you should seek out her work immediately.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J

    I have to say, Paula Guran is now my new favorite editor. What a great assortment of stories. I liked most of them. The absolute best here are "Copping Squid", "Sea-Hearts", "The Mystery", "The Wide, Carnivorous Sky", "Leng", "The Nowhere Man", "The Other Box", "Halloween Town", and "What Happens When You Wake Up in the NIght". THE HORRID GLORY OF ITS WINGS, Elizabeth Bear - Depressing and moving seem to be Elizabeth Bear's specialties. A gritty urban locale, and a harpy that is almost as unbe I have to say, Paula Guran is now my new favorite editor. What a great assortment of stories. I liked most of them. The absolute best here are "Copping Squid", "Sea-Hearts", "The Mystery", "The Wide, Carnivorous Sky", "Leng", "The Nowhere Man", "The Other Box", "Halloween Town", and "What Happens When You Wake Up in the NIght". THE HORRID GLORY OF ITS WINGS, Elizabeth Bear - Depressing and moving seem to be Elizabeth Bear's specialties. A gritty urban locale, and a harpy that is almost as unbearable make for an interesting dichotomy to one miserable teenage girl. It reminded me of Charles deLint's darker works. LOWLAND SEA, Suzy McKee Charnas - A nice little slice of life at the end of civilization due to disease, as some rich people party their remaining time away; never suspecting their own greed could lead to their undoing. Somewhat typical revenge story; a reworking of Poe. It could be interpreted as a commentary on the rich and their view of the rest of us as merely expendable. COPPING SQUID, Michael Shea - Oh, I love me a good Cthulthu story and this is an exceptional one set in my native SF Bay Area. Wonderful characters and perfectly fits in with mythos lore. MONSTERS, Stewart O'Nan - Touching and poignant, this is atypical for a horror collection. It is a literate tale of an accident, a parent's nightmare as their child is injured and recovers, and one boy's intense guilt. It is the sort of horror that we feel at the worst moments of our lives, which is probably why it got included. Nothing overtly supernatural, merely a reminder of the awful feeling of feeling awful. THE BRINK OF ETERNITY, Barbara Roden - In a similar vein, this story of an Arctic explorer is all too believable, and I was certain the ending would include something out of the ordinary. The only thing that is horror is entirely psychological. Riveting and horrifying, for none of the reasons I expected. FROST MOUNTAIN PICNIC MASSACRE, Seth Fried - A very hard to classify Stephen King-esque story of a small American town unable to avoid unfortunate events. I notice many online didn't care for this story but I thought it was clever and darkly funny. There are curses and then there's this place. I liked how the running gag became more in depth and sinister as you go along. SEA-HEARTS, Margo Lanagan - Easily my favorite story from this collection. A mesmerizing, enchanting, and sad tale of an island of fishermen who have captured selkies for wives, and the aftermath it presents. Ultimately, there is a price to pay for subjugating women under the rule of men in any culture, and this story illustrates that feminist truth beautifully. A HAUNTED HOUSE OF HER OWN, Kelley Armstrong - A twisted little tale of obsession and betrayal as a couple tries to make a home for ghosts. Sometimes you get what's coming to you, ghosts and all. I liked the twist, personally. HEADSTONE IN MY POCKET, Paul Tremblay - Very well done magical realist story about a Southwest town, a pair of old friends, and a secret from their childhood. Good prose here, and a touching commentary on memory. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, Holly Black - Not so great vampire story. Vampires are in locked down ghettos and feed on humans. It's like Daybreakers lite. Notice I don't use light, there. Ha ha. STRANGE SCENES FROM AN UNFINISHED FILM, Gary McMahon - Sort of boring until the end. Which I did NOT see coming, I will give it that. Another story of obsession, this time of obscure horror films, leads to the unexpected. A DELICATE ARCHITECTURE, Catherynne M. Valente - Deliciously weaves a story of a dark fairy tale villain's origin. Lush prose, and a wonderful parable for man's inhumanity to man, or woman. Indifference to suffering and exploitation begets the worst outcome for everyone. THE MYSTERY, Peter Atkins - Short and extremely awesome ghost story. Breathtaking, crisp prose. VARIATIONS OF A THEME FROM SEINFELD, Peter Straub - Wonderfully scary alternate world fantasy story from the author of "The Talisman". The title is a rather hilarious reference, and ironic, considering. THE WIDE, CARNIVOROUS SKY, John Langan - It took me a while to get through this tale of military men in search of revenge against a flying space vampire. One of the best created monsters I have read in quite some time, with some all to real commentary on the state of veterans in the US. The story leads us to question which is worse, their daily lives and memories of war, or the haunting specter that follows them afterwards? Perhaps a bit of both. This would make a really good horror film. CERTAIN DEATH FOR A KNOWN PERSON, Steve Duffy - Psychologically, very frightening. Probably one of the most frightening stories in this volume with no real gore to speak of. Well done, if not a trope I've seen before many times, it was pulled off well so it stands on its own merit. THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY, Stephen Graham Jones - Dumb criminals mess up and get the wrong address and one of them gets tortured. Wheee great. Unimpressive. LENG, Marc Laidlaw - An even better Lovecraftian yarn from "Lovecraft Unbound", a collection I am going to read simply because of how awesome this story was. It ranks as my fave along with "Sea Hearts" and I could definitely see it being filmed as a Masters of Horror episode. A Tibetan fungi expert finds mischief afoot, you say? A true mycological mess! Horror at its best. TORN AWAY, Joe R. Lansdale - A fun, whimsical rural monster story relating to the shadow self concept. Jungian models never grow old, and this one had a nice flow to it. THE NOWHERE MAN, Sarah Pinborough - Completely terrifying story of a missing person, a potential madman, and nothing is quite as it seems. Bravo. THE BONE'S PRAYER, Caitlín R. Kiernan - Fairly unnerving story taking place near the sea as a pair of female lovers try to determine the nature of a little stone. I love Caitlin Kiernan's ability to take ordinary, small things and make them into wonderfully written nightmares. THE WATER TOWER, John Mantooth - This is one of those stories that has an ending that could be interpreted many ways. What happens after? It could be anything. It's horrifying in about a dozen different ways and all of them work. If you like small town horror stories with poverty at the center, and places no one should go... IN THE PORCHES OF MY EARS, Norman Prentiss - This story really didn't grip me at all until the very end, which changes the context of everything that comes before it. Nicely done. THE CINDERELLA GAME, Kelly Link - Link rarely writes stories I don't like. Very believable dialogue here, coupled with the realization that sometimes young kids should not be underestimated. THE JACARANDA SMILE, Gemma Files - Fiction within fiction, a deftly written story about the process of writing. Writers that attempt to write about writers often fail, but not here. As the editor notes, the tone of the story is objective rather than introspective. THE OTHER BOX, Gerard Houarner - Completely awesome story. I was riveted. It starts off as a run of the mill crime story and then vaults its way into madness, all the while we are asking whether or not madness is responsible for the motivations of the main character or someone she knows. The ending is incredible and I won't ruin it for you. Not to be confused with the horror movie "The Box" which is far more disjointed, to say the least. WHITE CHARLES, Sarah Monette - Probably the only comedic entry here, it has the uneven contrast of starting out the scariest and then winds up somewhat disappointing in the latter half. EVERYTHING DIES, BABY, Nadia Bulkin - Meh. Weird fiction only goes so far for me, I suppose. This was just not doing it for me. BRUISE FOR BRUISE, Robert Davies - Another weird fiction story. The prose was interesting but I felt like I was reading someone's bad acid trip. The religious imagery felt somewhat forced. It was weird for weirdness sake. It was like a cross between the show Jeremiah, parts of the Dark Tower series, and the movie Freaks. So yeah. Not great but not entirely without merit. There were some ideas that struck me as interesting, and certain visuals that really stood out but sometimes it just felt like words were assaulting me like so many insects on a summer's night... RESPECTS, Ramsey Campbell - Awful, trashy neighbors make an old woman feel scared. I like Campbell's work but his statement regarding what he viewed as a disgusting media complicity in mourning criminals who are shot while stealing things...struck me as a bit callous and classist. He's not just creating unlikeable characters, he is stating unequivocally that anyone who is even related to a criminal is almost inhuman and I get the feeling he very much looks down on the lower class. I didn't like the story but I liked it less when confronted with his rather conservative stereotypes. DIAMOND SHELL, Deborah Biancotti - Odd little Australian story about another disappearance (it seems to be a theme in this volume!). Not so original, but I liked the narration. NUB HUT, Kurt Dinan - Easily the worst story I read in this book. I don't think it has any redeemable value. Sorry. This gets my only F. THE CABINET CHILD, Steve Rasnic Tem - I avoid Tem's work after giving him multiple chances to woo me. The only one I didn't bother with. CHERRYSTONE AND SHARDS OF ICE, Ekaterina Sedia - A tale of a town divided between living and not so living. It had a different feel to it, most likely the enchanted little burb was flavored with a gritty urban vibe mixed with Russian folkore. Great mix between the two. THE CREVASSE, Dale Bailey and Nathan Balingrud - A little exploration happens to swing past the Mountains of Madness. A fine jaunt into Antarctic nightmare. VIC, Maura McHugh - A mysterious, sick little boy reveals something slowly to us through his memory and desires. HALLOWEEN TOWN, Lucius Shepard - It is really hard to describe this story. Essentially it takes place In our own reality. Our own United States. But the town in question is a fantasy world of immense scope, both geographically, and socially, that it betrays that reality. It tricks us, because it claims to be what it is not. I love fantasy like this, it gets under your skin by parading entirely all too real characters, characters that could easily exist in New York, or Detroit, or Miami, or somewhere, but instead they just happen to be dealing with Impossible Things. The story gave me Synecdoche, New York vibes and if you have seen that film it is close to what this story achieves, only Shepard's work is ultimately more accessible. Ultimately, what it says is that no place is perfect, and you can't just move your life to a new place to start anew and expect that. Everything has a cost and a price, apparently. THE LONG, COLD GOODBYE, Holly Phillips - You might read this and think, this story makes no sense. In context, it is thick with possible metaphor. I'm not sure, but the underlying moral of the story is what counts. Tell the people who mean the most to you what they mean. Don't let fear get in the way or a lifetime will end merely in regret. Fantastical images and sly clues lay hidden in this story like gems in the snow. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE NIGHT, Michael Marshall Smith - Entirely disturbing little Twilight Zone like story. I adore Michael Marshall Smith. Read any story of his you get a chance to, you won't be sorry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Banshee

    This novel was mostly filled with boring stories. There were a few exceptions but overall this novel was a huge disappointment. Also, a good chunk of the stories I wouldn't classify as Dark Fantasy or Horror so I wasn't sure why they were included. This novel really felt like all the dregs the authors had lying around, instead of their A or B or even C material. The only stories worth mentioning are A Haunted House Of Her Own by Kelley Armstrong, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, A De This novel was mostly filled with boring stories. There were a few exceptions but overall this novel was a huge disappointment. Also, a good chunk of the stories I wouldn't classify as Dark Fantasy or Horror so I wasn't sure why they were included. This novel really felt like all the dregs the authors had lying around, instead of their A or B or even C material. The only stories worth mentioning are A Haunted House Of Her Own by Kelley Armstrong, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valente and What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night by Michael Marshall Smith. Overall I'd avoid this novel as there wasn't enough good stories to make it worth the read. The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear - 2/5 Stars This story involves a teenage girl and a harpy. Only interesting part of the story was that the teenager had HIV, not a lot of MC are given that illness. Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas - 4/5 Stars This story follows a rich guy and his pack of followers as they try to survive a viral outbreak. The best parts were the hints of the cause of the outbreak (chocolate, pretty diabolical) and Miriam's revenge. Copping Squid by Michael Shea - 2/5 Stars Another Lovecraft story. Okay but I've never been a fan of Lovecraft or Lovecraft-like works. Monsters by Stewart O'Nan - 2/5 Stars Nothing scary or dark about this story. Not sure why it was included in this anthology. The Brink Of Eternity by Barbara Roden - 2/5 Stars This story details one man's dream that quickly became an all consuming obsession. Story is supposed to be a classic supernatural fiction (like Edgar Allen Poe) but I haven't read his work so I don't know. Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre by Seth Fried - 3/5 Stars Story follows a town that continually goes to a picnic every year even though dozens of people die. A good story with a nice dark element to it. Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan - DNF Story supposed to be about selkies (which normally interest me) but the writing style, grammar and plot felt too strange to enjoy or finish. A Haunted House Of Her Own by Kelley Armstrong - 5/5 Stars What turned out to be just a standard haunted house story had so much more. I loved loved loved the twist ending. One of my favorite stories in the anthology. Headstone In My Pocket by Paul Tremblay - 3/5 Stars This story takes place in a small town and follows a US border agent. Okay story, nothing really exciting or revolutionary. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - 5/5 Stars Really really good story about vampires and love. I was a little sad to see Matilda get so close to freedom just to give it up to save her ex. Strange Scenes From an Unfinished Film by Gary McMahon - 4/5 Stars Interesting story, reminds me of The Ring. Not scary but it is a little disturbing. A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valente - 5/5 Stars An interesting origin story to Hansel and Gretel, one of the better stories in the anthology. The Mystery by Peter Atkins - 4/5 Stars Took two readings to fully grasp and comprehend the story, probably because I read it too fast the first time. First reading I didn't really like it as I found it boring. Variations of a Theme from Seinfeld by Peter Straub - DNF Could have been an interesting story about a doppelganger but I didn't like the writing style. The Wide, Carnivorous Sky by John Langan - DNF Story could have been interesting but the action portions were too scarce and the backstory too frequent. Certain Death for a Known Person by Steve Duffy - 2/5 Stars I guess the story was supposed to be a thriller but I got no chills or fears from it, almost fell asleep while reading it. The Ones Who Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones - 3/5 Stars Story talks about a kidnapping gone wrong, I didn't like the writing story and found it repetitive. Leng by Marc Laidlaw - 2/5 Stars This story is about a terrifying creature in the arctic, the story is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft. The story would have been more interesting to see a part 2 were the explorers go back. Torn Away by Joe R. Lansdale - 3/5 Stars Interesting supernatural story. Short, easy to read and unique. The Nowhere Man by Sarah Pinborough - 3/5 Ben, a twelve year old boy, goes searching for his missing sister. Story felt like it ended too abruptly, would have liked to learn about the Nowhere. The Bone's Prayer by Caitlin R. Kiernan - 3/5 Stars Edith is a writer who is suffering from writer's block. She eventually meets a mermaid while trying to cure that writer's block. This story would have been much better if it focused more on the mermaid than how Edith and it met. The Water Tower by John Mantooth - 3/5 Stars Story felt more about the characters than the plot. Not a bad story but not exciting either. In the Porches of My Ears by Norman Prentiss - 3/5 Stars The story notes describes it as "another slice of life story". Story was okay but it doesn't belong in this anthology. The Cinderella Game by Kelly Link - 2/5 Stars Story is about two siblings playing Cinderella together while their parents are away. Felt like a vital piece to the story was missing. The Jacaranda Smile by Gemma Files - DNF The beginning had my interest but the plot got more boring as it continued. I wanted to read a story not read a story about writing a story. The Other Box by Gerard Houarner - DNF Wasn't bad but by this point in the novel I think I just stopped caring. White Charles by Sarah Monette - 2/5 Stars Story started out half decent but then it just dragged on and on and on. Everything Dies, Baby by Nadia Bulkin - 2/5 Weird story, interesting concept but execution was off. Bruise For Bruise by Robert Davies - 3.5/5 Stars Not really sure how to describe this story except it definitely belongs in this anthology as it's dark and weird. Respects by Ramsey Campbell - 2/5 Stars This story wasn't dark or scary so I have no idea why it was in this novel. Diamond Shell by Deborah Biancotti - 2/5 Stars This story is about a woman who is searching for her missing friend. Kind of boring as the majority of the story follows the missing friend before she went missing, just living her everyday boring and average life. Nub Hut by Kurt Dinan - 3/5 Stars I didn't understand the purpose of the story until I read the author's note and all I can say is that it's dark and twisty. Good story. The Cabinet Child by Steve Rasnic Tem - 2/5 Stars Story about a woman who desperately wants a child except her husband doesn't want one. Felt bad for the wife (forget her name) Cherrystone and Shards of Ice by Ekaterina Sedia - 3/5 Stars Story about deaders (dead people) brought to life and living people cohabiting together in the same town, although different areas. I think there was supposed to have hidden meanings but I didn't get those. The Crevasse by Dale Bailey and Nathan Balingrud - 4/5 Stars This story features a terrifying creature in the arctic that is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, would have been interesting to see a part two where the explorers go back. Vic by Maura McHugh - 2/5 Stars Okay story, reminded me of a mix of Frankenstein and the power of love. Wish the author's note stated more about the purpose or origin of the story, not just to reread it slower. Halloween Town by Lucius Shepard - 3/5 Stars This novella follows a guy who moves into a mysterious town with weird rules. I never really was sure where the story was going to lead me. The Long, Cold Goodbye by Holly Phillips - 2/5 I forget what this story was about, I think I sped through it trying just to get this novel done. What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night by Michael Marshall Smith - 5/5 Stars This story is creepy, makes grown adults rethink darkness or what happens when while your sleeping.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jaffa Kintigh

    This anthology of the macabre and unsettling started what has now become an annual almanac of horror. I really enjoyed The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015 . This predecessor includes a third more stories, but more is not always better. Two tales merit top marks. "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas spectacularly brings together modern day slavery and an apocalypse in a work of speculative fiction. The beauty of this piece is in capturing the unique narrative voice of Miriam who witnes This anthology of the macabre and unsettling started what has now become an annual almanac of horror. I really enjoyed The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015 . This predecessor includes a third more stories, but more is not always better. Two tales merit top marks. "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas spectacularly brings together modern day slavery and an apocalypse in a work of speculative fiction. The beauty of this piece is in capturing the unique narrative voice of Miriam who witnesses the apocalypse years after her own world has been upended by her enslavement. Norman Prentiss' "In the Porches of My Ears" is a double tale involving the same characters in all-too-real situations. The first tale embeds subtly if not uneasily before achieving a devastating paradigm shift with the second tale calling every detail of the first into question. It is the epitome of tragic without any elements of fantasy or speculation needed. No horrors other than what life is amply able to provide. I have many honorable mentions that earned 4-stars: Bear, Elizabeth--"The Horrid Glory of Its Wings" Black, Holly--"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" Duffy, Steve--"Certain Death for a Known Person" Laidlaw, Marc--"Leng" Langan, John--"The Wide, Carnivorous Sky" Mantooth, John--"The Water Tower" O'Nan, Stewart--"Monsters" Sedia, Ekaterina--"Cherrystone and Shards of Ice" Tem, Steve Rasnic--"The Cabinet Child" I've individually reviewed all of the included short stories and novellas. Also included are: Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud's --"The Crevasse"--3 stars Biancotti, Deborah--"Diamond Shell"--3 stars Campbell, Ramsey--"Respects"--3 stars Dinan, Kurt--"Nub Hut"--3 stars Fried, Seth--"Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre"--3 stars Kiernan, Caitlin R.--"The Bone's Prayer"--3 stars Lanagan, Margo--"Sea-Hearts"--3 stars Link, Kelly--"The Cinderella Game"--3 stars McHugh, Maura--"Vic"--3 stars Monette, Sarah--"White Charles"--3 stars Pinborough, Sarah--"The Nowhere Man"--3 stars Roden, Barbara--"The Brink of Eternity"--3 stars Shepard, Lucius-- Halloween Town --3 stars Smith, Michael Marshall--"What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night"--3 stars Straub, Peter--"Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld"--3 stars Tremblay, Paul--"Headstone in Your Pocket"--3 stars Valente, Catherynne M.--"A Delicate Architecture"--3 stars Armstrong, Kelley--"A Haunted House of Her Own"--2 stars Atkins, Peter--"The Mystery"--2 stars Bulkin, Nadia--"Everything Dies, Baby"--2 stars Davies, Robert--"Bruise for Bruise"--2 stars Files, Gemma--"The Jacaranda Smile"--2 stars Houarner, Gerard--"The Other Box"--2 stars Jones, Stephen Graham--"The Ones Who Got Away"--2 stars Lansdale, Joe R.--;"Torn Away"--2 stars McMahon, Gary--"Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film"--2 stars Phillips, Holly--"The Long, Cold Goodbye"--2 stars Shea, Michael--"Copping Squid"--2 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I’ve read a couple of these collections, and they are always mixed. There’s not a huge amount of actual horror here, mostly just weird and unsettling stories. There are the usual Cthulhu stories, of course, and overall I only found a few that I skipped all together.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Replogle

    Oh, yes. A very enjoyable read...if you like this kind of thing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Critter Reyome

    Holy smoke. Holy smoke! HOLY SMOKE! Okay, so maybe that's a bit of overkill, but be fair, this is the best anthology I've read in a long while, and it tops the 2011 edition EASILY. Yes, I know I read them out of order, sue me, I received them that way. Looks like this one will be an annual to keep on the Christmas list for many years to come. Horror purists will probably complain that there's not enough out-and-out scary stuff in these, but keep in mind, it's "Dark Fantasy and Horror" in the tit Holy smoke. Holy smoke! HOLY SMOKE! Okay, so maybe that's a bit of overkill, but be fair, this is the best anthology I've read in a long while, and it tops the 2011 edition EASILY. Yes, I know I read them out of order, sue me, I received them that way. Looks like this one will be an annual to keep on the Christmas list for many years to come. Horror purists will probably complain that there's not enough out-and-out scary stuff in these, but keep in mind, it's "Dark Fantasy and Horror" in the title, not the other way around. There are so many good catches in this collection that I can scarce name them all, but the ones that really stick out are Stewart O'Nan's "Monsters" (it's not what you think!), "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" by Seth Fried, which probably IS what you think, "The Water Tower" by John Mantooth, and "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night" by Michael Marshall Smith. Vying for Best-Of-Show honors though are "Halloween Town" by Lucius Shepard and Maura McHugh's "Vic", quite possibly the most affecting story I've read in a very long time. Now then. My ONE complaint. This is two books from Prime which I own, and both of them have a significant number of typos. This edition didn't seem quite as bad as the 2011 book, but really...I know, it's a lot of pages, a lot of words, maybe it's just that in the rush to get a book out that copy editing is allowed to let slip. Please, Prime, don't allow this. Please. Hey, if you need an editor...call me. I work for free books! Wow. Wow! WOW! If you are a genre fan, chances are you already have it in your to-read list...if you don't, then run, do not walk, and get this book while it's still available!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sheherazahde

    Introduction by Paula Guran The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas Copping Squid by Michael Shea Monsters by Stewart O'Nan The Brink Of Eternity by Barbara Roden Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre by Seth Fried Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan A Haunted House Of Her Own by Kelley Armstrong Headstone In My Pocket by Paul Tremblay The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black Strange Scenes From an Unfinished Film by Gary McMahon A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valen Introduction by Paula Guran The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas Copping Squid by Michael Shea Monsters by Stewart O'Nan The Brink Of Eternity by Barbara Roden Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre by Seth Fried Sea-Hearts by Margo Lanagan A Haunted House Of Her Own by Kelley Armstrong Headstone In My Pocket by Paul Tremblay The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black Strange Scenes From an Unfinished Film by Gary McMahon A Delicate Architecture by Catherynne M. Valente The Mystery by Peter Atkins Variations of a Theme from Seinfeld by Peter Straub The Wide, Carnivorous Sky by John Langan Certain Death for a Known Person by Steve Duffy The Ones Who Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones Leng by Marc Laidlaw Torn Away by Joe R. Lansdale The Newhere Man by Sarah Pinborough The Bone's Prayer by Caitlin R. Kiernan The Water Tower by John Mantooth In the Porches of My Ears by Norman Prentiss The Cindrella Game by Kelly Link The Jacaranda Smile by Gemma Files The Other Box by Gerard Houarner White Charles by Sarah Monette Everything Dies, Baby by Nadia Bulkin Bruise For Bruise by Robert Davies Respects by Ramsey Campbell Diamong Shell by Deborah Biancotti Nub Hut by Kurt Dinan The Cabinet Child by Steve Rasnic Tem Cherrystone and Shards of Ice by Ekaterina Sedia The Crevasse by Dale Bailey and Nathan Balingrud Vic by Maura McHugh Halloween Town by Lucius Shepard The Long, Cold Goodbye by Holly Phillips What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night by Michael Marshall Smith

  12. 4 out of 5

    Travis Heermann

    This anthology is a smorgasbord of naughty, delicious delectables. And just like a feast, there are some dishes more to one's taste than others. There is some absolutely jaw-dropping writing here, most notably Lucius Shepard's novella, "Halloween Town", so full of lush prose, truth, insight, and weirdness that I am left shaking my head in wonder. Other high points include: "Copping Squid" by Michael Shea, a brilliantly creepy Lovecraftian tale. "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" by Seth Fried, a stun This anthology is a smorgasbord of naughty, delicious delectables. And just like a feast, there are some dishes more to one's taste than others. There is some absolutely jaw-dropping writing here, most notably Lucius Shepard's novella, "Halloween Town", so full of lush prose, truth, insight, and weirdness that I am left shaking my head in wonder. Other high points include: "Copping Squid" by Michael Shea, a brilliantly creepy Lovecraftian tale. "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" by Seth Fried, a stunning piece of almost literary, almost speculative prose that has something very dark, scary and true to say about the human race. "Monsters" by Stewart O'Nan, an everyday slice-of-life horror, an amazing exploration of the old cliche, "You'll shoot your eye out!" "The Wide, Carnivorous Sky" by John Langan, an creepy, gritty vampire-story-meets-modern-war story. "Leng" by Marc Laidlaw, another Lovecraftian tale that HAUNTS. Of course not all of these were to my taste. I have little patience for the kind of writing where the narrator is so unreliable and the language so surreal and disjointed that it obfuscates rather than illuminates, resulting in a chunk of pretty vagary that signifies nothing. There were a couple of stories like that here. But by and large, 90% of the stories here are well worth their ink. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lee Mandelo

    I was less into this anthology than the other "Year's Best" collection by Prime Books. As I do enjoy horror and dark fantasy, I suspect it was just a case of my tastes clashing with the editor's tastes. There were a few stories in this book I did really love, but interestingly enough, I had already read them all in other anthologies. "White Charles" by Sarah Monette (a Booth story) is a good one; "The Long, Cold Goodbye" by Holly Phillips; "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black are a few I was less into this anthology than the other "Year's Best" collection by Prime Books. As I do enjoy horror and dark fantasy, I suspect it was just a case of my tastes clashing with the editor's tastes. There were a few stories in this book I did really love, but interestingly enough, I had already read them all in other anthologies. "White Charles" by Sarah Monette (a Booth story) is a good one; "The Long, Cold Goodbye" by Holly Phillips; "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black are a few examples. The only story that truly drew me in that I had not read before was the Suzy Charnas story, "Lowland Sea." (Which is a Poe riff.) Mostly, the problem I had was that the horror fiction chosen here tended to be of the either shocking but meaningless variety, like "Nub Hut" or "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre," or the ridiculously predictable twist stories, like the Kelley Armstrong. Those are the parts of the genre that I hate; I can't stand starting a story and being able to call the whole thing from page one. I want to be told a good yarn at the very least. In any case, not the best anthology I've read this year. It was a bit of a slow slog in the middle. There are some stellar stories, but they mostly appear in other "Year's Best" books already.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jien

    The title is missing some punctuation. It should say "Dark, Fantasy, & Horror" since many of the stories contain no elements of either fantasy or horror, but may be called dark. Though I define genres broadly and have a very liberal view on what could be considered fantasy or horror, some of these stories really had none of that, even by a stretch. Some were hardly even dark. Catherynne M. Valente is the best in this book. Having no context, with a few pages left in her story I figured out exactl The title is missing some punctuation. It should say "Dark, Fantasy, & Horror" since many of the stories contain no elements of either fantasy or horror, but may be called dark. Though I define genres broadly and have a very liberal view on what could be considered fantasy or horror, some of these stories really had none of that, even by a stretch. Some were hardly even dark. Catherynne M. Valente is the best in this book. Having no context, with a few pages left in her story I figured out exactly where it was going and was thrilled to see it through. Brilliant. Definitely dark fantasy and horror in that story. A Delicate Architecture is probably my favorite of this whole collection. Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan was also quite good, though it was unclear what was going on for quite a lot of the story. Respects by Ramsey Campbell seemed a bit racist, and Guren's comment on that story was especially so. Overall these stories were decently written, but mostly didn't fit the title's genres.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Lowland Sea - 3 Stars Copping Squid - 3.25 Stars Monster - 4 Stars The Brink Of Eternity - 2 Stars Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre - 2.5 Stars Sea-Hearts - 3.5 Stars A Haunted House Of Your Own - 5 Stars Headstone In Your Pocket - 4 Stars The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - 5 Stars Strange Scenes From an Unfinished Film - 2.5 Stars A Delicate Architecture - 5 Stars The Bone's Prayer - 4 Stars The Wide Carnivorous Sky - 3.25 Stars Torn Away - Read July 2014 - 4 Stars The Water Tower 3.5 Stars The Porches of my Ears Lowland Sea - 3 Stars Copping Squid - 3.25 Stars Monster - 4 Stars The Brink Of Eternity - 2 Stars Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre - 2.5 Stars Sea-Hearts - 3.5 Stars A Haunted House Of Your Own - 5 Stars Headstone In Your Pocket - 4 Stars The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - 5 Stars Strange Scenes From an Unfinished Film - 2.5 Stars A Delicate Architecture - 5 Stars The Bone's Prayer - 4 Stars The Wide Carnivorous Sky - 3.25 Stars Torn Away - Read July 2014 - 4 Stars The Water Tower 3.5 Stars The Porches of my Ears 4 Stars The Cindrella Game 3.5 stars The Jarcendia Smiles 2.5 stars The Other Box 4 Stars White Charles 5 Stars Everything Dies, Baby - 4 Stars Bruise For Bruise - 3.5 Stars Respects - 3.5 Stars Diamong Shell - 2.5 Stars Nub Hut Kurt Dinan - 3 Stars The Cabinet Child - 3.25 Stars

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    There was some stuff in here that was really creative, but some of the stories just went on and on and never got anywhere. Hey, I know writing short stories take some skill and work. I finally had to quit when I was in the middle of a story reading about a former writing professor who said that he taught his students not to write complexity for its own sake, but the story just kept adding more complexity and never resolved.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wendopolis

    This book is not titled correctly. The first half of the book consists of stories that the editor included just because she liked them, as her annoying and dumb remarks at the conclusion of each story attest. The latter half of the collection is better, but still not up to par with other similar collections such as The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (any edition).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I really thought I was going to be disappointed throughout the entire book. My thoughts were, "who decides what is the 'best' of the year?' and 'I must be way off the beaten path then if This is what is considered dark fantasy and horror." [return][return]However, I have encountered a handful of short stories within the bindings of this book that have caught my attention.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I only read the Kelley Armstrong and Holly Black stories. They were pretty good. Black's story made me wish it was a full length book, I really wanted to know more about the world that the story was set in.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Peacock

    Excellent: Leng The Wide, Carnivorous Sky Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre Lowland Sea Good: What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night Nub Hut White Charles Headstone in my Pocket The Mystery A Delicate Architecture The Brink of Eternity Halloween Town The Water Tower

  21. 5 out of 5

    LoudVal

    I'll confess I didn't read these all, but I came across a few stand-outs: Holly Black / Coldest Girl in Coldtown - read it before, and always delighted. Michael Marshall / ...When you wake up in the night - so wonderfully unexpected. Caitlin Kiernan / The bone's prayer - so atmospheric.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lótë (Iris)

    The writing in this book was good, but I wasn't so much into all the stories. I'd only recommend it if your into the horror genre a lot. It does have a lot of creative stories in it, I think; they just weren't my kind of cupcake.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Samerdyke

    I got about halfway through this book. There were a couple of stories I liked (but didn't love), such as the Shea and the Langan, but by far, most of the stories in this book just annoyed me. And I decided not to finish the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    what a great collection! I had no idea people were writing such great supernatural fiction these days. So many great young writers. Will be looking to read the latest anthology hopefully edited and arranged by Paula Guran.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tobyann Aparisi

    A great mixture of horror stories, from some of the best writers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Scopel

    Being an anthology fan, I'm especially enjoying this one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    a few good stories, a few average ones.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Darren Phasey

    Enjoyed this book. Some of the stories were a bit heavy going but i persevered and got through it. Annoying editing in this book. Needs to be proofread a bit better.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I liked this book, but liked the 2011 version better. There was some good stories and some not so stellar stories, but overall it was a great book and recommend it. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Belinda Lewis

    A handful of good stories but mostly stories so bad that it was an actual struggle to finish; an anthology of the worst kind of pretentious art school, dark fantasy drivel.

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