The Best Horror of the Year Volume 3
Review by Mario Guslandi
Night Shade Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597802178
Date: 24 May 2011 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
2010 must have been a rather poor year for horror stories. When an experienced editor such as Ellen Datlow, assembling her annual anthology of "Best of the Year" presents us with twenty-one tales, most of which do not linger in the memory for more than five minutes, we must wonder. Unmemorable is indeed the right word to describe many of the stories.
Even making allowance for the differences in taste, I had not the impression that the 2010 production was so bad, but of course I am thinking of other material, not included in this book.
Ok, let's forget about my personal selection of the year's best stories. Some of them, actually, are reprinted in Datlow's anthology. Thus, we certainly agree that "Lesser Demons" by Norman Partridge is an excellent, spicy mix of Lovecraftian atmospheres and of zombie horror; Reggie Oliver's "Mr Pigsny" is a splendid piece of superior quality, a captivating cross between a gangster story and a spiritual meditation about afterlife; the outstanding "Fallen Boys" by Mark Morris, describing how a class of schoolchildren, visiting a disused mine, has to witness a terrible vengeance from a dark past is a truly great story, possibly the very best in the volume; Cody Goodfellow's "At the Riding School", a vivid, enigmatic gothic tale revisiting ancient Greek myths within a modern frame.
Among the stories which I wasn't already familiar with, the ones that I found worth mentioning are Nicholas Royle's deeply disquieting "The Obscure Bird", portraying a man's downward spiral into madness, Joe R. Lansdale's "The Folding Man", a creepy tale of pure horror featuring evil nuns and their murderous man, and Tanith Lee's powerful and apocalyptic "Black and White Sky".
Another very good story is "City of the Dog" by John Langan, a piece which could have used some trimming but still endowed with an unsettling, very dark ending where the terrifying reality behind the triviality of daily city life gets finally disclosed.
Overall, I've counted eight (very) good stories out of twenty-one. Am I getting too picky or is Datlow getting too indulgent or what?