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The Best of the Best Horror of the Year

(The Best Horror of the Year)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  51 reviews
For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. In this anniversary edition, Datlow brings back her favorite stories of the series’ last decade in a special edition encompassing highlights from each edition of the wor ...more
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Night Shade Books
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Dec 14, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

ix - Introduction by Ellen Datlow
001 - "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas
023 - "Wingless Beasts" by Lucy Taylor
037 - "The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg
049 - "Little America" by Dan Chaon
065 - "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee
091 - "The Monster Makers" by Steve Rasnic Tem
099 - "Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones
111 - "In a Cavern, in a Canyon" by Laird Barron
129 -"Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn
139 - "Shepherds’ Business" by Stephen Gallagher
157 - "Down to a Sunless Sea" by Neil Gai
Roxie |The Book Slayer| Voorhees
This was a book club read and I am glad it is over!

⭐⭐Lowland by the Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas
⭐⭐Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor
⭐⭐The Nimble men by Glen Hirshberg
⭐⭐⭐Little America by Dan Chaon
⭐⭐⭐⭐Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee
⭐⭐⭐Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones
⭐⭐⭐In a Cavern, In a Caynon by Laird Barron
⭐⭐⭐Allochthon by Livia Llewellyn
⭐⭐⭐Shepard's Business by Stephen Gallagher
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman
⭐⭐⭐⭐The Man From the Peak by Adam Gola
Last year, I read the latest installment in Datlow's Best Horror of the Year series. Only a handful of the hundred-plus books that I devoured back then garnered 5 stars from me, and it was one of them. Add to that the fact that this book is a distillation of what the editor considers the very best stories of the preceding 10 volumes and I guess I may be forgiven if I came into this with very high expectations.

In the Introduction, Datlow discusses some horror novels and single-author collections
Andrew “The Weirdling” Glos
An anthology book is always a mixed bag- some good, some ok, some outright bad. This one is a collection of “best of” stories from ten years of “best of” books. So, on the whole, the quality of these stories is very high. There’s a little of something for everyone here- monsters, supernatural, psychological, sci-fi and futuristic, period pieces, fantasy. All lovers of horror short fiction will find something that plays to their favorites, and a few things that stretch their boundaries. Good book ...more
Total rating: 3/5
Despite having some really excellent horror in here, this anthology was bogged down by mediocre and downright awful short stories that do not live up to the title.

Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas 2.5/5
The concept of the red sweat really intrigued- what’s more horrifying than seeing people covered in a bloody film? The writing was pretty good, maybe not as intriguing as the actual illness. I was uncomfortable, however, with the stories portrayal of Africa: all we as readers see
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want an idea of what you’re diving into before committing, “The Nimble Men” by Glen Hirshberg and “The Moraine” by Simon Bestwick are available for a free listen at PseudoPod.

I’ve read a number of the anthologies that helped form this book, and the table of content determination had me scratching my head several times. Many of these authors had significantly stronger examples of their work included in a differ
Joe Piccoli
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. Introduction—Ellen Datlow
2. 4* Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas
3. 4* Wingless Beasts—Lucy Taylor
4. 3.5* The Nimble Men—Glen Hirshberg
5. 3.25* Little America—Dan Chaon
6. 4* Black and White Sky—Tanith Lee
7. 2* The Monster Makers—Steve Rasnic Tem
8. 3* Chapter Six—Stephen Graham Jones
9. 4* In a Cavern, in a Canyon—Laird Barron
10. 3* Allochthon—Livia Llewellyn
11. 2* Shepherds’ Business—Stephen Gallagher
12. 3* Down to a Sunless Sea—Neil Gaiman
13. 3* The Man from the Peak—Adam Go
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This tended to lean to more opaque stories that I had a hard time getting into and are actually my least favorite kind in the regular editions of Best Horror of the Year. There were still plenty I enjoyed but these added up to just under half of the total stories so giving this 3 stars.

Stabdout favorites were Lowland Sea, Black and White Sky, Chapter Six, Shepherds' Business, Tender as Teeth, The Callers, This Stagnant Breath of Change, and The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine.
Laura Jean
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite stories were:

Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas
At the Riding School—Cody Goodfellow
Tender as Teeth—Stephanie Crawford & Duane Swierczynski
Grave Goods—Gemma Files
You Can Stay All Day—Mira Grant
Better You Believe—Carole Johnstone

The others were solid, but the ones I listed I especially enjoyed. The first and last stories were EXCEPTIONAL.
Matthew R. Taylor
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this collection of short horror stories to be pretty good. I will say, the first two stories that open this collection I did find quite boring. They were very slow and actually made me question whether I should keep reading. The third story however, really grabbed my attention and made me want to continue reading. After that, I enjoyed many more of the stories I found in this collection. Some of them are beautiful, some of them are quite ugly, and some of them make you really rethink how ...more
Ben Loory
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"The Nimble Men" by Glen Hirshberg
"Little America" by Dan Chaon
"Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones
"Shepherds' Business" by Stephen Gallagher <--- scary!
"The Days of Our Lives" by Adam Nevill

and the one that will haunt me:

"Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
It turns out that I am a finicky consumer of contemporary horror. Although I have found authors I like, many of them fall into the “literary horror” category, those authors whose publishers go out of their way to distance them from the genre ghetto. (The authors usually seem much less concerned about this than their publishers.) When it comes to more traditional horror, I have learned that short stories are more likely to please than novels, and that the “best of” annuals edited by Ellen Datlow ...more
I enjoyed this big, thick book of horror stories. It's been a long time since I've picked up a horror anthology, but after hearing the editor on a podcast, I was intrigued. I'm glad I got it! After reading The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2016 a few years back, I sort of wrote off short speculative/fantasy fiction because so many of the stories in that book were trash. I used to read short horror fiction voraciously in the 80s and 90s. In fact, now that Paperbacks from Hell: The Tw ...more
Maureen O'Leary
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this volume for Christmas, and I've been savoring it as a tremendously enjoyable reading experience. Each story has something tremendous to offer any fan of literary horror. I'm a fan of the Best Horror of the Year collections, and love having so many of my favorites in one place, as well as several I somehow missed. The story telling and writing within this volume is brilliant. What a great present. Highly recommend. ...more
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
I didn't realize, when I bought this, that this would be a compilations of her ... compilations. Let's milk that cow for all it's worth, right? Bizarrely, the intro has Datlow saying she hardly gets to read books because she's too busy reading short stories but wants to give us a list of handful of books she did read and loved... then gave us like an hour straight of book titles. Hmmm... I wonder if there was a kick back for that advertisement?

Regardless, I thought the first half of this book wa
John Bastin
I haven't read much horror lately, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look and see what good horror is like, these days. Good? Naw, it's really not so much. Most of these were just long, dragged out tales with little real horror to find. They're mostly boring and not worth spending the time. The Neil Gaiman story was good, I'll recommend that one. I had high hopes for Peter Straub from previous experience, but it was long and tedious and not really what I would consider "ho ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, spoopy, anthology
Some solid stories, but they didn’t really live up to the title.
For something called the best of the best horror most of the stories in this book were pretty bad
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The most horrifying thing about these stories is that they are supposedly among the best of the best. I can't imagine how disappointing the mediocre horror stories are. ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several of Ellen Datlow's "Best Horror of the Year" collections in the past and I would consider myself a fan.
I'm trying to be more detailed with anthology reviews to I'm going to put my top 5 stories from this collection.
As a caveat I must say that there are way more than 5 great stories in this collection, but I have to draw the line somewhere. It's also hard to review short stories in much depth without spoiling
things, especially so with horror given how they are so often structure
The very title of this anthology makes a bold claim and sets a very lofty goal, one that I can't help but feel it falls short of achieving. There are some truly excellent stories, but also some mediocre ones and more than a few that are really not my cup of tea.

While thematically there is something for everyone, I see certain patterns in the editor's picks, some of which I appreciate and some... I really don't.

To be more specific, more than one story uses supernatural horror elements to highligh
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Individual story ratings:

Lowland Sea by Suzy McKee Charnas-5
Wingless Beasts by Lucy Taylor-5
The Nimble Men by Glen Hirshberg-3
Little America by Dan Chaon-4
Black and White Sky by Tanith Lee-4
Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem-4
Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones-5
In a Cavern, in a Canyon by Laird Barron-4
Allochton by Livia Llewellyn-3
Shepherd’s Business by Stephen Gallagher-5
Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman-5
The Man from the Peak by Adam Golaski-3.5
In Paris-in the Mouth of Kronos by John Lang
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long overdue reading debt: to dig into Ellen Datlow’s horror short fiction year’s best anthologies. What best place to start than this “anthology of anthologies” picking up stories from the first 10 years up to 2018?

The best reward was probably discovering new authors I was not aware - I was specially intrigued by the stories from Adam Golaski, Stuart LG Nevill, Dan Chaon and Steve Rasnic Tem.

If I had to pick a few favorites in addition to those, I would start with the devastating “Allocthon”
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
A well-curated collection of horror stories with divergent approaches. Overall top-shelf stuff, even if it wasn't all to my tastes. It actually gives a nice sense of the breadth of the genre, and I bet there's something for every horror reader in here.

My top five:

1. "Black and White Sky" - Lee: A surreal and unique story of what happens when the magpies get weird.

2. "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" - Straub: A nasty tale about some nasty people, with some very creepy and ambiguous moments.

Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
I had no idea that horror could be so incredibly boring and this is supposed to be the best of the best horror of the past 10 years.
With all the books on my TBR list, I should really learn to stop reading a book when it is not interesting, exciting, captivating, ...

There were a couple of good stories, like "Majorlena" by Jane Jakeman, "You Can Stay All Day" by Mira Grant, Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones and some others, but most were tedious. Whilst reading "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrin
Danielle Trussoni
Here, we have all the expected perpetrators of terror — sinister psychopaths, killer plagues and malevolent birds — but without any of the dark and stormy clichés. The stories in this collection feel both classic and innovative, while never losing the primary ingredient of great horror writing: fear. Datlow writes in her introduction that there are “zombies and vampires and serial killers and ghost stories and Lovecraftian horror herein,” but that these conventions of horror writing “are not wor ...more
Josef Klafka
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are no bad stories in this book. Datlow has collected mostly exciting, imaginative and well-written horror stories, ranging from Lovecraftian cosmic horror to the dangers of the natural world. Most have a strong interpersonal and emotional component as well. Some standout stories: "Lowland Sea" by Suzy McKee Charnas; "Black and White Sky" by Tanith Lee; "Allochthon" by Livia Llewellyn; "Wild Acre" by Nathan Ballingrad; "This Stagnant Breath of Change" by Brian Hodge; and "Nesters" by Siobh ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy "Best of the Best" anthologies because you know you'll be getting good stuff. "Best of the Best Horror" is no exception. If you really want to get a sense of how horror has evolved in the last few decades, this is your book. Most of the stories were good but The Moraine, You Can Stay All Day, and Tender As Teeth were standouts (the last two very creative spins on the worn-out zombie apocalypse). And for sheer disturbing imagery Ramsey Campbell's The Callers and Adam L.G. Nevill's ...more
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Despite all the big names in this collection, and the it's literally supposed to be "the best of the best" over a whole ten years of horror short story writing...I did not connect with very many of these stories.

My favourite was definitely "The Moraine" by Simon Bestwick. I thought it had a great atmosphere. Literally mist and monsters. Kinda felt like a classier, UK version of The Ruins.
Stephen Dorneman
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very strong Best of the Best collection; only two clunkers (that were still horrific, but too confusing for this simple mind to follow), and all the rest deliciously creepy and nightmare inducing -- and that's actually a good thing. Two particularly notable takes on what one might think is the exhausted zombie trope were highlights for me, plus some new structures on solid Lovecraftian foundations, and a story of doomed mountain climbers that has no supernatural elements at all. Recommended, a ...more
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Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for forty years as fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and editor of Event Horizon and SCIFICTION. She currently acquires short stories and novellas for In addition, she has edited about one hundred science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies, including the annual The Best Horror of the Year series, The Doll ...more

Other books in the series

The Best Horror of the Year (1 - 10 of 12 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 Four
  • 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
  • The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Nine
  • Best Horror of the Year: Volume Ten

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