The Best of the Best Horror

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Night Shade Books, 396 pages, $15.99

Editor Ellen Datlow has selected 18 spine-tingling stories and novelettes that will delight fans of the horror genre. In her introduction, Datlow makes suggestions for other works she admires and recommends that readers check them out. She also provides a comprehensive overview of the year in horror, reviews award-winning stories (i.e., Bram Stoker Awards for Achievement in Horror and the World Fantasy Awards), and mentions notable novels, anthologies and nonfiction of 2011. The collection features stories written by authors such as Stephen King, Simon Bestwick, Margo Lanagan and Peter Straub. All work has previously been published in other sources, but every single story was new to me.

In King’s story, “The Little Green God of Agony,” a disabled millionaire looks for an alternate way of dealing with his pain. Lanagan’s “Mulberry Boys” combines fantasy and horror in a tale about the steep price a village pays for its harvest. Readers will find old-fashioned horror, as well as new takes on the genre. Between the talent of familiar authors and newcomers, there is something for everyone, and fans will likely find some new favorites to enjoy on a dark and stormy (or perfectly pleasant) night.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin