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The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four (The Best Horror of the Year #4)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  349 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The first three volumes of The Best Horror of the Year have been widely praised for their quality, variety, and comprehensiveness.

With tales from Laird Barron, Stephen King, John Langan, Peter Straubb, and many others, and featuring Datlow’s comprehensive overview of the year in horror, now, more than ever, The Best Horror of the Year provides the petrifying horror fiction
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Night Shade Books
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Learning to Kiss in the Snow by D.B. TarpleySouthern Haunts by J.L. MulvihillMatachewan by Lisa DeeShadows Edge by Simon StrantzasSomething with Blood in the Title by Khurt Khave
Quiet Horror Anthologies
16th out of 28 books — 5 voters
Night Shift by Stephen KingBREAKFAST is SEVERED by TyCobbsTeethFragile Things by Neil GaimanENJOY ME by Logan Ryan SmithForgotten Lore by Alexei Maxim Russell
Great dark short stories
77th out of 100 books — 57 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 817)
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Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This was THE perfect book to read in the month of spooky October. I'm glad I spotted this at the library. I have requested the others that have come before this one as I enjoyed this so much. As of course, with a book full of different stories, some were better than others but for the most part they each ranked about the same for me. Looking forward to the others just like this one.
Jonathan Briggs
Ellen Datlow accused me of being overly snarky the last time I reviewed one of these things, so this year, I'm starting off by saying something nice: It's good to see that Datlow's back. Small presses have a reputation for unsteadiness, and last year, there were ominous Internet rumblings and grumblings about Night Shade Books. But Night Shade is still publishing, the books are still rolling out, and Datlow is still performing her invaluable service to horror fans. Though my notion of "best" may ...more
Nancy Oakes
You can feel free to disagree, but while I've been kind of disappointed with this series as a whole, I did see marked improvement between Volume Three and Volume Four of this series. I have a longer discussion of this book here on the horror/sci-fi/fantasy/etc page of my online reading journal; if you'd like the short form keep reading.

Overall, there were a few stories in this installment that I felt were beyond good. There are 18 total; out of those I've starred five that I thought were very
So, working my way backwards through the Datlows (thank goodness, less of them than Jones' MBOBNH series) on the lookout for a good read and maybe a story purchase for the PSEUDOPOD podcast (although, since I'm working retroactively here, some have already been submitted, bought and produced). This was a solidly successful installment of the series, as there were no stories I actively disliked or felt indifferent about. It's a cliche at this point to say that all anthologies are a mixed bag, but ...more
Evans Light
May 10, 2014 Evans Light marked it as to-read
I won't be reading all of these stories. Frankly, I don't know why I keep picking these "Best Horror of the Year" anthologies up whenever I come across them at the library. It's almost as if every semblance of fun has been scientifically purged from the pages in some stoic pursuit of literary acceptance and broad acknowledgment of the merit of horror.

C'mon! Why read horror if not to have fun? If you want to be bored to sleep, read William Faulkner.

Anyway, this being horror, a couple of good stor
An interesting cacophony of short horror stories everywhere from the “I don’t understand” weird kind to the “I don’t want to go to sleep” terrifying kind. Examples of some of the stories that stood out to me are: The Moraine by Simon Bestwick, two hikers confront a fatal mist, The Show by Priya Sharma, a television medium who realizes her skills are not what she thought they were, Final Girl Theory by A.C. Wise, a fan who meets a starlet from a notorious horror B film that makes you rethink what ...more
May 19, 2012 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: horror lovers
Recommended to Katy by: NetGalley/Night Shade Books
Book Info: Genre: Anthology: Horror Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free eGalley – eBook uncorrected proof/ARC – in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: The first three volumes of The Best Horror of the Year from Nightshade books have been widely praised for their quality, variety, and comprehensiveness.

Now, for the fourth consecutive year, editor Ellen Datlow, winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, has explored the entirety of the diverse horror market,
M Griffin
This is Ellen Datlow's fourth time editing Best Horror of the Year for Night Shade Books. This edition is the best so far, combining potent, ambitious longer works by genre stars with a varied sampler ofup and coming names. Eighteenstories (including several novellas) follow Datlow's lengthy introduction, a wide-ranging summary of the genre year touching on noteworthy novels, anthologies, collections, periodicals, awards and events.If the tasting menu of the year's finest short fiction weren't e ...more
Mitch Duckworth
My favorite stories: Normally, I maintain a list of favorite stories in any anthology I read, because, as in this case, I might be reading several collections of shorts at once, plus a novel or two; I might absorb it over a period of months. I kept a growing list for this book for the first few stories and then abandoned the idea. This is one of the most perfect anthologies I've ever read. Not even the weakest of the stories Ellen Datlow selected for this volume should rate below four-stars; I'm ...more
When a horror collection begins with Stephen King and ends with Peter Straub, you can bet you're going to be in for quite a ride. I enjoy reading short story collections because I think it takes great writing skill to be able to completely tell a tale and capture a reader in such a limited space. This collection was no disappointment. The writer's craft shows through and I still find myself thinking about a number of the stories. Reactions as I read ran from chuckling to goosebumps to downright ...more
Brian Sammons
A good collection of horror stories, but far from the best in my oh so humble opinion. I liked a lot of what I read here, but there were a surprising number to stories that I didn't care for at all. As in, not one bit. Meh, chalk that up to personal taste I guess. Still, you can find a lot worse horror anthos out there.
B.  Keith Barron
Stephen King: "The Little Green God of Agony"
***** - Excellent.

Leah Bobet: "Stay"
**** - Do love me a good Windigo yarn.

Simon Bestwick: "The Moraine"
**** - Nice.

Laird Barron: "Blackwood's Baby"
***** - Mr. Barron is quickly becoming one of my favorite horror

David Nickle: "Looker"
**** - Creepy cool.

Priya Sharma: "The Show"
*** - Very good, but none of the characters are very personable -
and having a sympathetic character in the mix helps with
horror. Still sometimes bad things do
If this was the best, I'd hate to read the worst. The best one was the Stephen King story. There were perhaps two others that were pretty good, the rest were a trial to plod through.
Ellen Datlow has edited lots of wonderful anthologies over the year. Her influence in the areas of fantasy and horror know no bounds. She's smart, a good reader, and she chooses well - all great qualities in an editor.

I'm sort of back and forth with horror. I love it in so many ways, yet it's so difficult to find horror that's worth reading (or horror movies worth seeing, frankly). Everything's gotten so obvious and much has descended to the level of torture porn and that just doesn't draw me in
I love anthologies. They're excellent resources for new authors, new styles of narrative and even glimpses at new cultures. And even the most poorly assembled anthology generally has one or two gems, that makes the read worth it.

Luckily, Ellen Datlow is a pro at anthologies, mixing the right amount of established and new authors and traditional and experimental writing styles. You can pick up anything she's edited with total confidence.

Now on to the stories themselves... some were good, some w
I'll be honest. I nearly gave up on this book. I nearly stopped reading it and gave it up as a lost cause. Why? Because the introduction takes up over 10% of the book, and is mostly a rundown of the best horror novels published during the past year. I actually had to look at outside descriptions of this book to remind myself that yes, there are actual stories in here, and that it's not just a book about other books. While having that listing certainly is nice, having it right at the beginning wa ...more
Paul S
Ellen Datlow is one of the best dark fiction editors out there. The first two volumes of this series were quite good, but I found the third one surprisingly weak. Thankfully, the fourth volume rights the ship. The familiar names are here: King, Straub, etc. and those names have to be there to sell books, but as usual it is the less familiar names that have best stories. The second story in the book, "Stay" by Leah Bobet is the highlight, a cold Alaskan tale that will stick inside you long after ...more
This is as good a collection of horror as you’re going to get. The book starts with Stephen King and ends with Peter Straub, and the authors in between are no slouches, either. There was only one story I didn’t like (Straub’s ‘The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine’) and that’s not because it’s a bad story; it’s just not a style I care for.

The stories are all over the map in terms of style; Margo Lanagan’s ‘Mulberry Boys’ is set in a sort of alternate world, a sort of fantasy/horror cross; Littlewo
Sam Fleming
Datlow is something of a doyenne when it comes to horror anthologies, and I felt this would be just the pick-me-up I needed to counter-act an affliction of genre apathy. It certainly did the trick, but more as a result of a couple of real stand-out stories than an overall trend of excellence.

The anthology opens with a Stephen King story about a man possessed by a pain demon, and the sceptical nurse who doesn't believe such things exist. It's tempting to ascribe this story to King's own experienc
There were some good stories in this collection. The ones that stood out the most for me were Stay (Leah Bobet), Dermot (Simon Bestwick), You Become the Neighborhood (Glen Hirshberg) and Little Pig (Anna Taborska). The only one I didn't finish was Blackwood's Baby and that was more because I couldn't connect with the characters or themes in it. I almost didn't finish In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos for the same reason. Overall, solid writing and storytelling.
Sharon Smith
A couple of the stories in this collection were really good. Most, however were super strange and hard to follow. A few were also very perverse to the point of causing me to quit reading them and become uncomfortable. This is not for sensitive readers at all. Read the few good ones and forget the rest.
Scott Schiffmacher
Very interesting and entertaining stories.

This book was a fun and interesting read. Some of the stories were much better than others, but in all I enjoyed it, and would recommend it for anyone looking for some some scary stories.
Betsey Crockett-lassiter
Solid anthology. The standouts (for me, at least) "Mariner's Round", "The House on Ashley Avenue", "Dead Song", "The Crying Child", "Some Pictures in an Album", "Wild Acre", "Pig Thing". 4th star is for the inclusion of Laird Barron's amazing "Frontier Death Song."
Fantasy Literature
Anything Ellen Datlow edits automatically finds a place on my list of books to read. For many years, this included the excellent anthology series The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, which Datlow coedited with Terri Windling. When that series disappeared, much to the dismay of fans of short fiction everywhere, Datlow undertook to publish The Year’s Best Horror, which has been published by the terrific smaller press, Night Shade Books, for the past four years. This year’s volume, the fourth, is ch ...more
Only a few of the stories were memorable. I would say about 5 of the stories stood out as very good and the rest were mediocre. I will try the volumes in order and hope to find more stories that I like.
Amanda Allen
Meh. Some of the stories were pretty scary, especially Stephen King's "The Little Green God of Agony" and "Black Feathers" by Allison Littlewood. But for the most part, I thought they were more weird than scary.
Charles Dee Mitchell
This may be the only "Best Of" anthology I have ever read. That it is a mixed bag comes as no surprise. None of the stories are really bad, but many are quite ordinary. And the suffer in comparison with the best of the best.

This volume both gave me my first exposure to Margo Lanagan and got me finally around to reading something by Peter Straub. Thank You, Ms. Datlow, for both introductions. Lanagan's and Straub's stories are visceral, surrealist tinged fictions that take the read someplace you
Robin Edman
It must have been a really bad year for horror. With few exceptions, these stories are more dreary than scary.
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four offers a great collection of stories which are bound to please any horror fan. The themes explored are varied and thought-provoking, especially those that show that humanity itself is often far worse than the monsters hiding in the shadows. While some stories are more effective than others you are guaranteed to find at least one which will send shivers down your spine. It might be best not to read this one alone in the dark. Recommended! Read the full revi ...more
As with most "Best of" short story collections, this was a mixed bag. But this collection has an enjoyable amount of variety and has some interesting writers represented.

The standouts to me were:
You Become the Neighborhood by Glen Hirshberg - a daughter gradually understands that her mother was traumatized by an event years ago.

Black Feathers by Alison Littlewood - a little girl wishes her brother was different, and she gets her wish.

Blackwood's Baby by Laird Barron - Barron always successfull
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter
More about Ellen Datlow...

Other Books in the Series

The Best Horror of the Year (8 books)
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume One
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Two
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
  • The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight

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“There’s real evil, Mr Honey. Not that existential crap, either.” 2 likes
“By this time it was well past midnight. You know how that is. It’s a time when you start asking questions about things that in the light of day you wouldn’t consider twice. It’s a time … well, we both know how that goes, in the dark hour.” 2 likes
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