Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review: The Best Horror of the Year - Volume Two

Ellen Datlow has done it again! Not only has she compiled seventeen great short horror stories for this collection, but she has also given us, dear readers, an exhaustive run-down on notable horror literature releases of 2009, from books to anthologies to poetry to magazines. If you want a complete year in review for horror literature, look no further than The Best Horror of the Year – Volume Two!

Most of the stories in this collection are quite enjoyable, but there are a few that stood out more than the rest. The collection is kicked off with a bang with Suzy McKee Charnas’ Lowland Sea, a clever take on Poe’s famous The Masque of the Red Death. An entourage from the Cannes festival secludes themselves from the “Red Sweat” in a director’s isolated and impenetrable mansion…but they can’t escape the virus forever.

In the stunningly jaw dropping each thing i show you is a piece of my death by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer, a strange “background man” starts showing up in different movies, TV shows, etc. but no one has a clue as to how he got there. A digital hoax is suspected at first, but his strange appearances remain unexplained. The story is told entirely in email communications and instant messages between two filmmakers, transcribed interviews, official documents, police transcripts and so on. It’s an entirely inventive and intriguing narrative structure, with the added menace and mystery of the “background man”.

These two stories described above were my favorites of the collection, but many more grabbed my attention, including Lonegan’s Luck by Stephen Graham, about a Wild West salesman spreading a zombie virus from town to town, The Lion’s Den by Steve Duffy, about strange happenings at a zoo, Strappado by Laird Barron, about an exclusive art installation that’s to die for, The Lammas Worm by Nina Allan, about a strange girl that falls in with a circus sideshow and Technicolor by John Langan, another creative take on Poe’s Masque of the Red Death.

If you are looking for a great guide to some of the best horror literature published in 2009, pick up a copy of The Best Horror of the Year – Volume Two. It’s worth picking up solely for its superb write-up of numerous horror books, magazines, stories, etc., but as an added bonus the short stories also included are excellent examples of the cream of the crop of horror literature.

This is the second Best of Horror collection from Ellen Datlow I’ve had the pleasure to read, and I’m already looking forward to the third detailing the best of 2010!

Check it out on Amazon!

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