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The Best Horror of the Year Volume Nine

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An elderly man aggressively defends his private domain against all comers—including his daughter;a policeman investigates an impossible horror show of a crime; a father witnesses one of the worst things a parent can imagine; the abuse of one child fuels another’s yearning; an Iraqi war veteran seeks a fellow soldier in his hometown but finds more than she bargains for . . An elderly man aggressively defends his private domain against all comers—including his daughter;a policeman investigates an impossible horror show of a crime; a father witnesses one of the worst things a parent can imagine; the abuse of one child fuels another’s yearning; an Iraqi war veteran seeks a fellow soldier in his hometown but finds more than she bargains for . . . The Best Horror of the Year showcases the previous year’s best offerings in short fiction horror. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Adam L. G. Nevill, Livia Llewellyn, Peter Straub, Gemma Files, Brian Hodge, and more. For more than three decades, award-winning editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow has had her finger on the pulse of the latest and most terrifying in horror writing. Night Shade Books is proud to present the ninth volume in this annual series, a new collection of stories to keep you up at night. Table of Contents: Summation 2016 - Ellen Datlow Nesters -- Siobhan Carroll The Oestridae -- Robert Levy The Process is a Process All its Own -- Peter Straub The Bad Hour -- Christopher Golden Red Rabbit -- Steve Rasnic Tem It's All the Same Road in the End -- Brian Hodge Fury -- DB Waters Grave Goods -- Gemma Files Between Dry Ribs -- Gregory Norman Bossert The Days of Our Lives -- Adam LG Nevill House of Wonders -- C.E. Ward The Numbers -- Christopher Burns Bright Crown of Joy -- Livia Llewellyn The Beautiful Thing We Will Become -- Kristi DeMeester Wish You Were Here -- Nadia Bulkin Ragman -- Rebecca Lloyd What’s Out There? -- Gary McMahon No Matter Which Way We Turned -- Brian Evenson The Castellmarch Man -- Ray Cluley The Ice Beneath Us -- Steve Duffy On These Blackened Shores of Time -- Brian Hodge Honorable Mentions


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An elderly man aggressively defends his private domain against all comers—including his daughter;a policeman investigates an impossible horror show of a crime; a father witnesses one of the worst things a parent can imagine; the abuse of one child fuels another’s yearning; an Iraqi war veteran seeks a fellow soldier in his hometown but finds more than she bargains for . . An elderly man aggressively defends his private domain against all comers—including his daughter;a policeman investigates an impossible horror show of a crime; a father witnesses one of the worst things a parent can imagine; the abuse of one child fuels another’s yearning; an Iraqi war veteran seeks a fellow soldier in his hometown but finds more than she bargains for . . . The Best Horror of the Year showcases the previous year’s best offerings in short fiction horror. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Adam L. G. Nevill, Livia Llewellyn, Peter Straub, Gemma Files, Brian Hodge, and more. For more than three decades, award-winning editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow has had her finger on the pulse of the latest and most terrifying in horror writing. Night Shade Books is proud to present the ninth volume in this annual series, a new collection of stories to keep you up at night. Table of Contents: Summation 2016 - Ellen Datlow Nesters -- Siobhan Carroll The Oestridae -- Robert Levy The Process is a Process All its Own -- Peter Straub The Bad Hour -- Christopher Golden Red Rabbit -- Steve Rasnic Tem It's All the Same Road in the End -- Brian Hodge Fury -- DB Waters Grave Goods -- Gemma Files Between Dry Ribs -- Gregory Norman Bossert The Days of Our Lives -- Adam LG Nevill House of Wonders -- C.E. Ward The Numbers -- Christopher Burns Bright Crown of Joy -- Livia Llewellyn The Beautiful Thing We Will Become -- Kristi DeMeester Wish You Were Here -- Nadia Bulkin Ragman -- Rebecca Lloyd What’s Out There? -- Gary McMahon No Matter Which Way We Turned -- Brian Evenson The Castellmarch Man -- Ray Cluley The Ice Beneath Us -- Steve Duffy On These Blackened Shores of Time -- Brian Hodge Honorable Mentions

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year Volume Nine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam Nevill

    In a time of endless multi-author horror anthologies, in which only two or three stories usually ring my bell per volume, this was the best anthology that I’ve read in years, in terms of its quality and variety. Excellent addition to an excellent series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    It's not you, Best Horror of the Year, vol 9, it's me. You are typically a quality horror anthology each year, but this year, I just couldn't get into you. The stories I enjoyed most in this year's collection tended to be straightforward narratives involving a (non-Lovecraftian) monster, such as "The Oestridae,""Grave Goods,""Between Dry Ribs," and "The Castellmarch Man." The two-page "No Matter Which Way We Turned" is quick, nasty, and had the only glimpse of dark humor in the entire collection. It's not you, Best Horror of the Year, vol 9, it's me. You are typically a quality horror anthology each year, but this year, I just couldn't get into you. The stories I enjoyed most in this year's collection tended to be straightforward narratives involving a (non-Lovecraftian) monster, such as "The Oestridae,""Grave Goods,""Between Dry Ribs," and "The Castellmarch Man." The two-page "No Matter Which Way We Turned" is quick, nasty, and had the only glimpse of dark humor in the entire collection. There were a few too many Lovecraft-like stories throughout this volume. One or two is ok, but I count at least four here ("Nesters," "It's All the Same Road in the End," "Bright Crown of Joy," and "On These Blackened Shores of Time"). To be fair, only a couple of these stories alluded to the Lovecraft mythos directly, but they all share themes that spring straight from "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." There were two stories that touched on domestic abuse, "The Days of Our Lives" and "The Beautiful Thing We Will Become." I found both these stories disturbing, but I'm not sure if the authors conveyed a deep sense of the truly horrific, or if I was just grossed out. I'll reserve judgement on these for now. Two clunkers: Peter Straub's "The Process Is a Process All Its Own" and "Bright Crown of Joy" by Livia Llewellyn. Straub's "Process" was pretentious, and seemed to have a major continuity flaw in the plot that I would not have expected from someone of Straub's caliber. "Bright Crown" used a device meant to switch the narration back and forth between the protagonist and a computer-like mind that I found miserably annoying. There are a few gems here buried between stories I wish I had been able to skip, and the stories I didn't mention at all are just fine. It's probably just that I wasn't in the mood for contemporary horror this winter. Maybe I should have stuck with some older stuff like Kurt Wagner's Year's Best Horror or one of the Shadows series, since the stories I most enjoyed in this collection were reminiscent of those older collections.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    I was just looking over the other reviews, and it's just so subjective. There were stories in here I loved, stories I liked, and some I didn't care for at all. And that's 100% okay. Some people agree with me and some hated the ones I love. What I really enjoy is that Ellen always gives us a wide range of stories—quiet horror, violent horror, Lovecraftian (quite a few this year), psychological, rural—you name it. I'd rather have 50% blow me away, than 100% be just good. All this being said, this I was just looking over the other reviews, and it's just so subjective. There were stories in here I loved, stories I liked, and some I didn't care for at all. And that's 100% okay. Some people agree with me and some hated the ones I love. What I really enjoy is that Ellen always gives us a wide range of stories—quiet horror, violent horror, Lovecraftian (quite a few this year), psychological, rural—you name it. I'd rather have 50% blow me away, than 100% be just good. All this being said, this was a great collection, my favorite work by the following authors: Brian Hodge (twice), Siobahn Carroll, DB Waters, Adam Nevill, Livia Llewellyn, Kristi DeMeester, Brian Evenson, and Ray Cluley. If you want to keep up with the best in horror, read this every year. You won't love every story (nobody ever does, except Ellen, I suppose LOL) but you'll for sure find some that floor you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alan Baxter

    A benchmark anthology of horror, as ever.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆

    Been reading this since last year. By far the worst of this series. I'd say 2/3s weren't even technically stories -- they were just scenes or thoughts, or they had no point and told no real story. Only 2 or 3 held my attention. None were remotely scary. Here's two examples of the stories within: A. man goes to brother look for work. brother turns him down and has wife cook him breakfast. he asks her for work and she turns him down too. Then he kills her, waits for his brother, kills him, and kills Been reading this since last year. By far the worst of this series. I'd say 2/3s weren't even technically stories -- they were just scenes or thoughts, or they had no point and told no real story. Only 2 or 3 held my attention. None were remotely scary. Here's two examples of the stories within: A. man goes to brother look for work. brother turns him down and has wife cook him breakfast. he asks her for work and she turns him down too. Then he kills her, waits for his brother, kills him, and kills everyone he meets to the seashore before he kills himself. the end. B. strange girl brought to random clinic where, no matter which way you turn her, you only see her back. so random clinic guy abandons her in a house until she probably starves to death (the house was boarded up and the narrator says something like 'we guarded it until we couldn't hear her moving about anymore.') the end. It's like 'alrighty then. there's time i wasted on asinine stories that i'll never get back.'

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elle Maruska

    Overall a very strong collection! There was a bit of repetition in the Lovecraftian pieces unfortunately but otherwise I really enjoyed these stories. I loved "The Days of Our Lives" for it's absolutely nonsensical yet still terrifying narrative and it's ricocheting pace somewhere between a British domestic comedy and a terrifying cult-esque tale of murder and inexplicable horror. "Grave Goods" was also really well written and an interesting exploration of archaeology, ethics, identity, and (of Overall a very strong collection! There was a bit of repetition in the Lovecraftian pieces unfortunately but otherwise I really enjoyed these stories. I loved "The Days of Our Lives" for it's absolutely nonsensical yet still terrifying narrative and it's ricocheting pace somewhere between a British domestic comedy and a terrifying cult-esque tale of murder and inexplicable horror. "Grave Goods" was also really well written and an interesting exploration of archaeology, ethics, identity, and (of course) monsters. "Ragman" was also a deeply unsettling exploration of the relationship between parents and children as well as the stories piled up in physical things. The weakest of the bunch was definitely "Numbers," in that it seemed to have...very little reason for existing. Straub's piece "The Process is a Process All Its Own" started out promising but ended up rather disappointing and I felt the last story, "On These Blackened Shores of Time" was good but perhaps not the strongest ending for the anthology. But as a whole I definitely enjoyed this collection!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Generous

    Bounced between three and four stars. Some pretty good stories. A handful that were just flowery descriptions of grim situations, no suspense, meh characters, no payoff, etc. The Process is a Process All its Own by Peter Straub was excellent. Grave Goods by Gemma Files was spooky and suspenseful, second favorite. The Castellmarch Man by Ray Cluley was a lot of fun. On These Blackened Shores of Time by Brian Hodge was the best of the bunch.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill Hsu

    I should just stop getting Ellen Datlow anthologies. But after many pages of plodding and pedestrian prose (Livia Llewellyn being a notable exception), I'm finally at Brian Evenson's "No Matter Which Way We Turned". It begins: No matter which way we turned the girl, she didn't have a face. Yes. Update: the Evenson is only 2 pages! Other than the Llewellyn, the Bulkin story is also worthwhile. I don't think the Cluley holds up to his last collection.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    The ninth volume of Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year is a particularly strong one, and has Lovecraftian overtones, as a handful of stories appeared in her Children of Lovecraft connection. Therefore the stories aren't the kind that make your hair stand on end, but make your skin crawl. Those stories are the "Bright Crown of Joy," by Livia Llewellyn, which I found difficult to get through; "Nesters," by Siobhan Carroll, about a family that stuck it out through the Dust Bowl and don't lik The ninth volume of Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year is a particularly strong one, and has Lovecraftian overtones, as a handful of stories appeared in her Children of Lovecraft connection. Therefore the stories aren't the kind that make your hair stand on end, but make your skin crawl. Those stories are the "Bright Crown of Joy," by Livia Llewellyn, which I found difficult to get through; "Nesters," by Siobhan Carroll, about a family that stuck it out through the Dust Bowl and don't like to think about what happened to a neighboring farmer, and what I think is the best story in the whole collection, "On the Blackened Shores of Time," by Brian Hodge, which involves a young man disappearing into a sinkhole that leads his family on a quest to find himself inside an old coal mine. Some of the stories are quite brutal, including two involving mutilated animals: "Red Rabbit," by Steve Rasnic Tem, and "What's Out There," by Gary McMahon. Animal lovers be warned. There is also a story about a serial killer who is also a necrophiliac, Peter Straub's "The Process Is a Process All It's Own." Try reading that to the kids at night. "The Days of Our Lives," by Adam LG Nevill, explores the world of sado-masochism, and "The Numbers," by Christopher Burns, is about a guy who snaps. Boy, does he snap. Don't pick on your loser brother. Here are the other of my favorites in this collection, in no particular order: "The Oestridae," by Robert Levy, which has a couple of teenagers holding down the fort after their mother disappears and a very strange aunt show up. I love this opening: "White dust rises from the road like tobacco smoke, followed by the grinding of car wheels on dry Pennsylvania dirt as a silver compact rumbles into view, up the hill on its way to the house." "House of Wonders," by C.E. Ward, is a tale about a sleazy tourist attraction that has some deadly secrets. "The Ice Beneath Us," by Steve Duffy, involves two ice fisherman and the secret they share, which has to do with an Indian myth (or is it?), and "The Castellmarch Man" is also about a legend, this time a Welsh one, about a man with the ears of a horse, who doesn't like them to be seen. A few stories didn't grab me, such as "No Matter Which Way We Turned," by Brian Evenson, which is short but completely confusing, and "The Bad Hour," by Christopher Golden, which I found a bit amateurish and not up to the quality of the rest of the collection. Still, this may be the best of the Datlow-edited books I've read. I've just started another one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeanine

    Excellent!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    "The Best Horror of the Year" makes its welcome ninth appearance in a volume beefier than last year's annual, which was slightly puny in the page count. Not returning is Laird Barron, breaking a remarkable string of consecutive "Best Horror" performances. Barron's "Triumvirate of Terror" compatriots, Nathan Ballingrud and John Langan, are also no-shows. I expect all three writers are brewing something mind-blowing for their inexorable return to these pages. Despite their absence, editor Ellen Da "The Best Horror of the Year" makes its welcome ninth appearance in a volume beefier than last year's annual, which was slightly puny in the page count. Not returning is Laird Barron, breaking a remarkable string of consecutive "Best Horror" performances. Barron's "Triumvirate of Terror" compatriots, Nathan Ballingrud and John Langan, are also no-shows. I expect all three writers are brewing something mind-blowing for their inexorable return to these pages. Despite their absence, editor Ellen Datlow practically guarantees at least three stars from me by including a new Peter Straub story and a hefty double-dose of Brian Hodge. Datlow's opening Summation of the past year's novels is encouraging. She runs off a list of several books to be added to the must-read list. I hope "Hex" is as compelling as she makes it sound. But "Best Horror" is focused on superior short work. Among 2016's notables, for better or worse: The Grapes of Wrath glow a Colour out of Space in the opening "Nesters." When author Siobhan Carroll describes strange visitors as too pale and too well fed, the vampire bell might go off, but it's a false alarm. No, this is our persistent old pal Mr. Lovecraft back once again. The story's Dust Bowl setting and Irish immigrant narrative voice give the formula a few tweaks. Otherwise, Carroll regrettably confines herself to following that formula, and soon enough, characters are reciting the inevitable, untenable tongue-twisters of jumbled alphabet and apostrophe. The precipitous drop into the fragmented perspective that opens "The Process Is A Process All Its Own" is likely to perplex readers, but in a few pages, the story reveals itself as something altogether more prosaic: We're in the mind of another serial killer. What lifts "The Process" beyond the hackneyed ranks of standard psycho slaughters is Peter Straub's shimmering prose. "Often, he felt other," Straub writes of the "dark, disturbing criminal sociopath" at the center of "The Process." Straub's creative process ensures that sense of the alien, that unsettling otherness. Protagonist Tilly Hayward has a kind of synesthesia (whether real or delusional is up to us as readers) in which he can smell words. "He could already catch the meat-sack stench of 'please' and 'mercy' as they slid through the girl's sweetheart lips." Tilly describes words as "blue collar guys." Sometimes. But Straub's words are the elegant elite -- glittering, masterfully ornamented confections that offer a wealth of mysteries to be plumbed upon multiple readings. They are beautiful even as they incite disgust and dread. The clinical description of Tilly's methodical cleanup process is the most chilling single paragraph in the book. "The Bad Hour" gets off to a good start. An Iraq War veteran searches for a sandbox buddy through a picturesque autumn countryside in Vermont (complete with pumpkin harvest) until she comes across the classic horror setting of the secluded New England town spurning outsiders and harboring secrets. This is all genre boilerplate, but it's effective up to the point when author Christopher Golden goes full-on pedantic, trying to lay down the "rules" of his supernatural threat and doing more damage with each poorly planned detail. It's like one of those "X Files" episodes that's fully committed to a bad premise and only digs itself deeper into a hole the more Mulder and Scully try to explain. You know what's scary? The unexplainable. Brian Hodge may be getting tired of shouldering the label "underrated." It's certainly not an accurate one among his regular readers, who rate him very highly indeed. Underread might be a tad closer to the mark. We just want more people reading along with us. Hodge has been at this a long while, steadily improving since his already impressive beginnings in "The Horror Show" and the Dell/Abyss days. Yet Hodge isn't as well-known as some of us think he deserves to be, and we've been wondering: What's delaying the rest of you? He's like the Michael K. Williams of horror writers. He may not have all the honors and prizes and recognition that are due him, but fans cheer when they hear Omar's comin'. Datlow knows how good Hodge is and devotes a sizable chunk of this volume to him. She must rate him pretty highly. The first of his stories is "It's All the Same Road in the End." The Brothers Pine, Clarence and Young Will, have been on this road trip for so long, it's all become a blur: "Another stop, another chance for the truth" in their quest for their grandfather Willard Chambers, who disappeared more than 50 years ago. The brothers pass around a photo that captures something off, something wrong, something that unnerves would-be witnesses. There's also a tape recording on an old Walkman that some listeners can't even finish before yanking the headphones off. Grandpa Willard was a songcatcher, Marlboro Man as musicologist, preserving the tuneful heritage of various cultures. Somewhere out in Dust Bowl territory, in search of folk songs to record, Willard was lost. Now the Pine Brothers follow an unearthly siren call that probably resembles blind idiot piping. Scientists in Gemma Files' "Grave Goods" uncover a prehistoric pit in Canada's coniferous old growth and have to wade through a sodden mess of rain, mud, mucus and rancid racial and gender politics. Similarly, the reader finds himself bogged in a morass of eye-blurring archaeological info dumps (Files mansplains Chris Golden under the table), muddled action and groan-inducing dialog ("Hey, don't denigrate my spirituality"). Files has been writing good stories for so long that she should be past the point of producing something this erratic and amateurish. The traditional British ghost story gets another airing in C.E. Ward's "The House of Wonders." Or maybe it's not the traditional British ghost; maybe it's another traditional revenant, whose frequent, fanged anthology appearances tend to annoy me. Or maybe it's someone/thing altogether different (though still traditional). The ambiguity carries the story quite a ways, despite Ward's maddening habit of inserting "of course" into every other sentence. Familial friction lays the basis for Christopher Burns' "The Numbers" as an undependable brother visits the family farm uninvited for breakfast. The discomfort builds until the story takes a wrenching, unpleasant turn (I mean that as a compliment) and proceeds toward its inevitable ending coldly and efficiently. The tale seems quite simple -- especially considering how often we hear real-life variations of it -- but if it was really that simple, everyone would be writing it. Though Burns isn't working at Peter Straub's level, both authors illustrate the same principle: Good writing elevates even the most basic plot. "Shotgun Joe" Biden might like this one. Old age addles the thinking of a junk shop owner who presides over scary mirrors in Rebecca Lloyd's overlong and haphazardly edited "Ragman." After a few years of progressive improvement, the copy editing slipped a notch in "Best Horror" Volume Nine. Make no mistake: The rules of language matter. The improper execution of those rules affects readability ("Where did I put what Dad?"), and of far less importance, it irritates online reviewers who work as professional editors in their day job. "Ragman" lacks not only key commas but entire words. Internal logic and common sense go missing as well. There's an old joke about the family that lacks the self-preservational smarts to move out of the haunted house when the faucets start spewing blood. When the narrator of "Ragman" witnesses an ominous black stinky creature trying to climb out of a mirror, she retreats to her cot and duvet where "I felt the huge solemnity of how each of us is alone on Earth," then she goes to work attaching price tags to the items in "the bric-a-brac outhouse." (Though it's certainly no fault of Lloyd's, the word "outhouse" has a significantly different meaning on this side of the Atlantic.) Gary McMahon's "What's Out There?" is likely to be especially upsetting to animal lovers. It should elicit dazzling mental special fx sequences along the lines of pre-CGI greats Rick Baker or Rob Bottin. I don't really have a critique, just a question: In England, do cats really beat up foxes? Ray Cluley's "The Castellmarch Man" reminds me why I sometimes envy the British. Though we have the Constitution and real football, they have near-constant gloomy weather and gothic castles all over the place. Cluley's geocaching couple are enjoying the Welsh countryside, and I was enjoying the story and atmosphere. Then, much like he did in "Bones of Crow" in "Best Horror" Volume Six, Cluley takes a detour into the daffy. Deep in the dark innards of a castle, his protagonists are set upon by a randy refugee from Disney's "Pinocchio." Perhaps it's not entirely fair to blame Cluley for essentially being faithful to folklore, but it's a bit frustrating to invest as a reader in a story -- and this is a fairly lengthy story -- and be rewarded for it by an ending this silly. The buildup did make me want to revisit Wales though, so the tourism bureau might want to send Cluley a nice note. In Brian Hodge's second story, "On These Blackened Shores of Time," a father endlessly replays "four seconds of eternity" in his mind -- the time it took to register the sudden loss of his son in a calamity millions of years in the making, down a seemingly bottomless pit that opens in suburbia. Just when you think Old Man Lovecraft has been stripmined to the dried-out (but obstinately omnipresent) bones, along comes Hodge with a string of superb Mythos reworkings (that's reworkings, not rehashes, this is key). I assume his next collection will assemble this sequence of cosmic horror. Everyone should buy a copy. If Hodge becomes disgustingly successful, he won't have to hear about how underrated he is, and those of us who have been reading since "Dark Advent" can shrug and wrinkle our noses and smugly say, "Eh, his early stuff was better." Hodge and Straub push the highs of Volume Nine higher, but the lows ... are pretty low. The past couple of volumes established a baseline of quality that was solid but a little safe. This volume takes more risks, but at times, that means it dares to fail. Steady but safe, or daring but uneven? I'm not sure which is better. Next year will mark a decade that Ellen Datlow has been bringing us this incarnation of "Best Horror." I don't know whether Night Shade Books plans anything special to mark the anniversary, but I hope all of Datlow's contributors will do her the honor of making her job especially arduous by overwhelming her with exceptional work and making Volume Ten the best yet. Maybe someone could even coax Thomas Ligotti out of hiding.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Tul

    Not that great If you make it the junk at the beginning to read the stories. They are to choppy of stories. No real endings to some and other no point. Didn't care for it

  13. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    I usually like any anthology edited by Ellen Datlow, so I was a bit surprised by this one when I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected. It's not bad, it was just heavily packed with stories that left me saying "What The Fuck?" and not in a good way. Many of the stories meandered around with no clear idea of what they were trying to do or where they were going. There were some notable exceptions, especially toward the end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Keeping in mind this the first horror collection I've read, I think it's a great collection -- wide-ranging. I was really super-happy to see a flash fiction, the incredible "No Matter Which Way We Turned" by Brian Evenson, included. The opening and closing stories of the collection, "Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll and "On These Blackened Shores of Time" by Brian Hodge are fantastic bookends for the collection, and as a matter of fact Hodge has two stories in here (the other being "It's All the Same Keeping in mind this the first horror collection I've read, I think it's a great collection -- wide-ranging. I was really super-happy to see a flash fiction, the incredible "No Matter Which Way We Turned" by Brian Evenson, included. The opening and closing stories of the collection, "Nesters" by Siobhan Carroll and "On These Blackened Shores of Time" by Brian Hodge are fantastic bookends for the collection, and as a matter of fact Hodge has two stories in here (the other being "It's All the Same Road in the End," which would have been a fantastic X-Files episode), both dealing with families trying to repair themselves through journeys, that are really strong. My other faves included a reworked folk tale, "The Castellmarch Man" by Ray Cluley, that had some narrative feints and dodges that were very playful and enjoyable as a reader, and the everyday gun horror of Christopher Burns's "The Numbers." I skipped over a few stories -- for instance I feel like I'm supposed to appreciate "Bright Crown of Joy" by Livia Llewellyn, but the use of italics and other features made me feel like I had to work too hard for the enjoyment as a reader. Definitely recommend this as a great snapshot of horror writing today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Pidhayny

    I was initially disappointed to see John Langan, Laird Barron, and Stephen Graham Jones - some of my favorite authors and series regulars - absent from Volume Nine of Datlow's Best Horror of the Year series. I learned my lesson about doubting the quality of a Datlow-edited anthology when I was blown away by no less than half of the 21 short stories found within. There's a wide range of horror here, from traditional to cosmic to weird, there's something here for every horror fan. What stood out t I was initially disappointed to see John Langan, Laird Barron, and Stephen Graham Jones - some of my favorite authors and series regulars - absent from Volume Nine of Datlow's Best Horror of the Year series. I learned my lesson about doubting the quality of a Datlow-edited anthology when I was blown away by no less than half of the 21 short stories found within. There's a wide range of horror here, from traditional to cosmic to weird, there's something here for every horror fan. What stood out the most to me from this anthology were the stories by women. "Grave Goods" by Gemma Files, "Wish You Were Here" by Nadia Bulkin, "Bright Crown of Joy" by Livia Llewellyn, "Ragman" by Rebecca Lloyd, and "The Beautiful Thing We Will Become" by Kristi DeMeester were all disturbing, 5-star reads. Of note as well are both of Brian Hodge's offerings "It's All the Same Road in the End" and "On These Blackened Shores of Time", "Red Rabbit" by Steve Rasnic Tem, and Brian Evenson's incredibly short "No Matter Which Way We Turned". If you're looking for a starting point into the anthology series, there couldn't be a better spot, despite missing some of the big names.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    This was a decent anthology, with a few standouts, like The Oestridae, House of Wonders, Ragman, and On These Blackened Shores of Time. 1. Nesters | Siobhan Carroll - B 2. The Oestridae | Robert Levy - A 3. The Process is a Process All its Own | Peter Straub - didn’t finish! 4. The Bad Hour | Christopher Golden - B 5. Red Rabbit | Steve Rasnic Tem - C- 6. It’s All the Same Road in the End | Brian Hodge - C 7. Fury | DB Waters - C 8. Grave Goods | Gemma Files - C 9. Between Dry Ribs | Gregory Norman Bos This was a decent anthology, with a few standouts, like The Oestridae, House of Wonders, Ragman, and On These Blackened Shores of Time. 1. Nesters | Siobhan Carroll - B 2. The Oestridae | Robert Levy - A 3. The Process is a Process All its Own | Peter Straub - didn’t finish! 4. The Bad Hour | Christopher Golden - B 5. Red Rabbit | Steve Rasnic Tem - C- 6. It’s All the Same Road in the End | Brian Hodge - C 7. Fury | DB Waters - C 8. Grave Goods | Gemma Files - C 9. Between Dry Ribs | Gregory Norman Bossert - C- 10. The Days of Our Lives | Adam LG Nevill - C 11. House of Wonders | C.E Ward - B+ 12. The Numbers | Christopher Burns - B- 13. Bright Crown of Joy | Livia Llewellyn - D 14. The Beautiful Thing We Will Become | Kristi DeMeester - C 15. Wish You Were Here | Nadia Bulkin - C- 16. Ragman | Rebecca Lloyd - B+ 17. What’s Out There? | Gary McMahon - C 18. No Matter Which Way We Turned | Brian Evenson - C 19. The Castellmarch Man | Ray Cluley - B- 20. The Ice Beneath Us | Steve Duffy - C 21. On These Blackened Shores of Time | Brian Hodge - B+

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine Marshall

    As with most horror short stories or anthologies, given there are a few, there is just not enough time for the reader to really care about the protagonist or set up the given horrific circumstances to really build the creep factor in... every time I buy a book, with horror short stories, I go into it really excited and wind up very disappointed for this very reason... I don't believe it is the author's fault I just think it is a fact of this genre that you have to build suspense and creepiness o As with most horror short stories or anthologies, given there are a few, there is just not enough time for the reader to really care about the protagonist or set up the given horrific circumstances to really build the creep factor in... every time I buy a book, with horror short stories, I go into it really excited and wind up very disappointed for this very reason... I don't believe it is the author's fault I just think it is a fact of this genre that you have to build suspense and creepiness over deeper characterization and for that you just need the full length of a novel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    A solid anthology. I particularly enjoyed Peter Straub's "The Process Is a Process All Its Own" and Nadia Bulkin's "Wish You Were Here," which not only did a great job with setting and characters, but also left a lingering chill about what comes next. Having been playing some Cthulhu boardgames for the past few years, I also enjoyed Brian Hodge's "On These Blackened Shores of Time" for its feels-like-a-RPG-Adventure flavor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    As w/ all anthologies this is mix of strong and weak stories. I found most of them interesting while only 2-3 struck me as uninteresting. The through-line seems to be family. The two stories by Mr. Hodge were a compelling blend of ancient horror and American mythology. Ms. Llewellyn’s story is creepy in it’s madness and I like the perspective of the narration. Was a pleasant read and I’m happy to have learned about this series. Will look into some of the earlier volumes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    T.C. Bennett

    The Best Horror of the Year --Volume Nine: by Ellen Datlow, proves once again why the she's one of the leading editors of Horror in the WORLD! She has an eagle eye for choosing the right stories--her Volumes are a must have for readers and writers of all genres--superb quality at the highest level. Buy it now!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Clark Thomas

    I enjoyed this book even more than last year's and can't believe that's even possible. My favorite stories were by Brian Hodge, Siobhan Carroll, Rebecca Lloyd, Steve Duffy, Peter Straub, and Ray Cluley. Seriously though, I enjoyed most of the stories. I started this book some time ago and just sort of fed myself stories as I felt the need. I didn't want to finish the book in three days.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Frightening stories These were frightening stories that make you think oh my gosh what if. I love each and everyone kept me on the edge of my set. Hated to put it down to do what I needed to. Read this you won't be disappointed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lees

    The most essential purchase of any year. Not every story will be for everyone but why should it? Ellen Datlow has a great eye for stories that will effect an ever-expanding audience in horror fiction. May you find many you love. I did.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aaron VanAlstine

    Not at all a bad anthology. Two or three stories were very good and the rest were entertaining if forgettable. Interestingly, one story set in the great Pacific Northwest--two retired Boeing workers encounter a hostile and malevolent force on a frozen lake--was written by an author in Wales.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Kormos

    This may be one of my most favorite of the collections. Listened to it in audio format and it was wonderful.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kcastella

    Last year's stories were better. My favorite story in this was 'Days of our lives'

  27. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Hammer

    Like most collections some were good but some not so much.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Evans

    Datlow’s collections are always uneven and too many of these are really just sci-fi/fantasy and not horror, but there were a few choice cuts in here.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eli Ryder

    Evenson and Straub were standouts.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Fries

    Excellent Creepy and weird. Many good stories, the rest really good. A very well assembled collection. I like this series and will seek the others.

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