The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven
Edited by Ellen Datlow
Review by Mario Guslandi
Night Shade Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597808293
Date: 18 August 2015 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Famous,award-winning editor Ellen Datlow continues her long career as a distinguished anthologist by offering a further volume in the acclaimed series Best Horror of the Year, now reaching its seventh volume. Once again the book includes a detailed report of what happened last year in the area of dark fiction and collects a bunch of selected stories, allegedly representing the best among those published in 2014. If that is really the case it's always hard to tell because other anthologists pursuing the same scope have chosen different tales, even though penned sometimes by the same writers and included in the same collections. As always, personal taste plays a major role.
It goes without saying, at any rate, that the present anthology assembles, as always, top notch material apt to satisfy and delight the genre fans.
Among the twenty-two tales included in the book there are some which have especially impressed your reviewer.
Angela Slatter's "Winter Children" is an extremely dark piece depicting the final encounter (in a nursing home!) of two cruel, female predators, while Dale Bailey's "The Culvert" is a very intriguing tale exploring the facts surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a twin brother.
"Outside Heavenly" by Rio Youers represents a terrific example of graphic horror, starting with a devastating fire and the finding of a mutilated corpse and getting on with the discovery of shameful family secrets and the entry of supernatural evil.
The breathtaking "Interstate Love Song" by Caitlín R Kiernan is masterly crafted as a kind of cruel road movie imbued with violence and brutality.
The enticing "Wingless Beasts" by Lucy Taylor is a sort of modern western set in the Death Valley, featuring a lonely killer who gets his punishment in an unexpected way.
Another excellent story is Keris McDonald's "The Coat off His Back", a truly fascinating, vaguely Jamesian tale (meaning MR James, not Henry...) of historical horror, revolving around an "innocent coat" which haunts a nervous museum curator.
My favorite stories are "It Flows from the Mouth" by Robert Shearman, a wonderful piece told in a superb narrative style, which casts some light on the little mysteries of our existence by portraying a strange friendship surviving beyond the grave, and "Departures" by the amazing Carole Johnstone, an oustanding tale set in the departure section of an airport, incredibly well told and frightening in the extreme.
In short, a great anthology not to be missed.