Gavin's Reviews > Best New Horror 20

Best New Horror 20 by Stephen Jones
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's review
Jan 20, 2011

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bookshelves: horror, short-stories

The first 15 percent is a bizarre round-up of the year in fantasy/horror books and the effects of the financial crisis on the publishing industry. I guess if you want that then this is the book for you!

The stories themselves range from great (in the shape of Cold Rest, The Oram County Whoosit and The Beginnings of Sorrow), through to utter piffle, special mention to Stephen King's farted out non starter and the offensively Daily Mail "Hobby Hoss" by someone who used to write for The Bill. And honestly may have been the person to kill the series off if this story is any indication of their aptitude for writing.

To talk about some stories in particular:

The first story is about a dead man who wanders into a bar, it wasn't really horror other than that it had a zombie in it and allusions to spiritual magic. Personally I found it profoundly warm and comforting, and that's not really something I associate with horror. That said, I think I will be looking up some of Peter Crowther's other stuff after reading it, as he has a wonderful ear for schmaltz and "guy talk" dialogue.

There's a strong branch of Lovecraftian horror present, from Lynda Rucker's wonderful tale of Cold Rest, to the aforementioned Oram County and Beginnings of Sorrow. All three capture the essence of what horror should be in the written word. Something which conjures up the feeling of falling out of control, in a world that has rules, just not ones that the protagonist can understand or play by. Though technically the Oram County is more of a sublimely charactered Creature Feature, the references to the coloured night sky are definitely nods to H.P.

There are other stories that pass the time enjoyably enough, but if this truly is the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and roughly 20% of the stories are good (and not all of those are strictly speaking, well, scary), it's probably not a big surprise that I don't read horror.

I'm thoroughly open to any recommendations, though.

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