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The Best Horror of the Year: Volume One

(The Best Horror of the Year #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  769 ratings  ·  70 reviews
An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger; urban explorers delve into a ruined book depository, finding more than they a ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Night Shade (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Nancy Oakes
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
To be perfectly blunt, if this was a selection of the best horror of the year 2008, either I must have missed something or horror writing was at an ebb that year. Out of 21 stories, there were three that were relatively creepy, and out of those, I'd already read one. To be sure, I know that anthologies are pretty iffy, but in the world of hit or miss, this book takes the prize for most misses. I hate being so negative, but jeez -- there's just no other way to say it.

The tale I liked the best was
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
Ugh. Why is it so difficult to find a GREAT horror anthology? They always seem to be mediocre, and this was no different. Decent, okayish stories for the most part, a couple that were actually enjoyable, but overall, not wowed.
Another great anthology of short horror stories.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's hard sometimes settling on a star rating for anthologies. They're notoriously a mixed bag for obvious reasons. And generally I'm ride or die for Ellen Datlow's editing but she puts out SO MANY that not every one can knock it out of the park. This was unfortunately that sort for me -- there were a few gems but many more that I felt ambivalent about. Penguins of the Apocalypse was by far my favorite. 2.5* ...more
Dr. Detroit
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
The problem with most horror anthologies, including this one, is the loose, free and easy application of the term “horror” to what ultimately ends up in the table of contents.

In my strange world (it’s okay, they know me there), red meat, arteries bustin’ wide open, grey matter going up in flame, and writing that attacks the beast and gets in and gets out without carrying any excess baggage – in other words, something that actually repulses, horrifies, or even causes your gorge to rise - goes a l
Jonathan Briggs
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Indie outfit Night Shade Books swooped to the rescue after bigger publisher St. Martin's scuttled Ellen Datlow's long-running annual anthology of the best horror fiction. Although it's good to have the venerable editor still at work culling the good stuff, the inaugural volume of this series reboot is wobbly on its newborn feet. It's not that the stories are particularly objectionable. But for the most part, they're not exceptional either. What makes them the "best" horror of 2008? They're not s ...more
Brendan Moody
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's important to start with what this volume is not. It's not a collection of a particular type of horror story; Datlow's taste, while tending toward the subtle over the blatant, is wide-ranging, and includes stories traditional and modern (to the extent that these labels are useful), long and short, serious and comic. Some are closer to dark fantasy than "horror" as some readers define it. This book is also not necessarily cued to your specific tastes. the editor has not magically reached into ...more
Ross Lockhart
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Read in manuscript. A solid collection of terrifying tales, collecting the best short stories and fiction published in 2008. High points include E. Michael Lewis's "Cargo," William Browning Spencer's "Penguins of the Apocalypse," Laird Barron's "The Lagerstatte," Adam Golaski's "The Man From the Peak," and Simon Bestwick's "The Narrows." ...more
Andrew Neal
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
There's a thin line between portraying something mysteriously horrific and writing so vaguely that a reader doesn't know what the hell you're saying. Most of the authors in this anthology trip over that line so hard that this should be an America's Funniest Home Videos montage, not a Best Horror anthology.

Having said that, I quite liked:
The Hodag
It Washed Up
The Narrows
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Horror fans that are willing to ignore the weaker stories
Overall a below average anthology that unfortunately does not do its name any justice. If it wasn't for the fine entries by Laird Barron and William Spencer Browning this anthology would not be worth mentioning at all. Either 2008 was a extremely bad year for horror fiction (even though I remember it quite differently) or the the normally impeccable Ellen Datlow had a bad day (or rather a bad year) when chosing this sea of mediocrity as the year's best horror.

But enough of my lengthy ramblings,
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
My favorite story was The Hodag, which was a perfect slice of Americana - isolated, violent, haunted, creepy Americana.
DeAnna Knippling
Lots of brilliant stories--but enough meh that it gets a 4. A zombie does not a horror story make.
Lyndsey Gollogly
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
55 of 250
The Best Horror of the Year Volume 1
Edited by Ellen Datlow

Once read a review will be written via Smashbomb and link posted in comments!

I will post in comments a short comment on each story!

An Air Force Loadmaster is menaced by strange sounds within his cargo; a man is asked to track down a childhood friend... who died years earlier; doomed pioneers forge a path westward as a young mother discovers her true nature; an alcoholic strikes a dangerous bargain with a gregarious stranger;
Beth Roberts
I like anthologies the same way I like M&M's: they're chocolate so they're all good. They're small, so they don't require a major commitment, and all the different colors make them fun.

And every now and then, you get one you swear just tastes better than the others. I still swear the tan ones were more chocolaty than the others but then they stopped making those, so that's another story.

But anyway. . .I've read enough short fiction the last few years to start recognizing the authors that I seem
Pam Winkler
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good collection. A lot of good pieces and a few fantastic ones.
Cargo by E. Michael Lewis was good.
If Angels Fight by Richard Bowes was interesting and good.
The Clay Party by Steve Duffy was one I read earlier, it's a very good story.
Penguins of the Apocalypse by William Browning Spencer was outstandingly creepy.
Esmeralda: the First Book Depository Story by Glen Hirshberg was good.
The Hodag by Trent Hergenrader was also good.
Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle is one I've
Some good stories, some meh.

Some of the stories are okay. I liked a few, but I wish I had read reviews before I bought the first 8 books of this series. The stories are not bad, they're just not all super interesting to me. I'm going to stop reviewing story by story after When The Gentlemen Go By unless there are any I really like.

Cargo ***
The cargo is some of the bodies from the Jonestown massacre, and the story is about the horrors that come with them. Very creepy, this one gave me goosebumps,
Gary Siebert
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this series. Finally able to pick up an used copy of volume one. On to volume four and then the two most recent volumes. A little bit of everything horror in these volumes, from Lovecraftian to body horror to apocalyptic to monsters and more. Even some macabre poetry! Volumes also include excellent information on all things in horror literature from the year previous to publication: award winners in horror, new books, magazines (print and ezines), etc. Closes with a brief, entertaining bi ...more
Apr 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
I really enjoyed this collection. This was my first introduction to Ellen Datlow's editing and I must say I am impressed. This compilation was incredibly solid, dark, and quite a few were unsettlingly grotesque and arousing.

There was only one title that fell completely flat for me and very few that were merely 'ok' to my palate.

Excited to read the others in the series, glad I own them if they are this well curated. I also appreciated the start of the book, it includes a list of the various nov
Јордан Коцевски
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would've rate this anthology 3.5 if possible instead of 4 starts.
What bothered me most was the fact that there are some really good story whose effect and pleasent experienced is lost because of the mediocre and bed stories. there are some stories that I wouldn't put in the genre of horror, some predictive ones, some that have nice way of building tension but don't deliver at the end.
I wouldn't call this the best horror stories.
On the other side that are stories so we'll paced and intriguin
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Some stories are phenomenal, one was unnecessarily disgusting and involved child rape (that certainly lowered my score), but the finale story was my absolute favorite!

Overall, nothing stunning or actually scary (save for the last story), but a nice way to pass the time.
Violet Laflamme
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
DNF - the stories were not engaging and not really what I'd qualify as horror save for one. I won't give it one star just in case the later stories turned out to be better, but my reading list is too long to press on with something I'm not loving. ...more
Zoltán Szabó
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first encounter with The Best Horror of the Year series. Although a pretty uneven anthology, some of the featured novels are definite treasures with superb atmosphere, ideas. Will definitely check out some of the authors as well as the following books in the series.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
What a waste of time! I kept thinking the stories would get better but no such luck. If the editors think these stories were horror, apparently they have not read Stephen King.

I do not recommend the book.
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Got to admit this gave me a few nightmares. Found a new writer I liked alot aswell so I'll get his books now. Best story was Laird barrons one. I like short story's or anthlogies the best because I find new writers. All good mind ...more
Nicole Wright
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
this was very hit or miss, some stories were amazing and some were so awful
James Patrick
Apr 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This anthology wasn't for me. High quality stories to be sure, but they focused too much on the fantastical. I just couldn't get into the vast majority of stories. ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice mix of stories

My favs were the final story The Narrows and one set in Thailand Harry and the Monkey. This anthology is highly recommended.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
A mixed bag. My personal favorites were If Angels Fight, Harry and the Monkey, and The Narrows.
Anastasia Garcia
Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it
My Rating ★★★ 1/2

Datlow draws upon the many sources of the horror to find the best collection of horrific, spine-tingling, and grotesque short stories of the year. The stories range from the obviously gore-filled to the more subtle tales of dark fantasy.

Cargo, E. Michael Lewis - ★★★
Davis, a cargo-hold tech, is sent out to retrieve a most precious cargo - human bodies. Hoping it stays a routine pick-up, he is surprised to find that it won't be a quiet ride home.

If Angels Fight, Richard Bowes -
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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 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
  • The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven

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