Stephen Jones (ed)
For nearly twenty-five
years The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror has been the world's leading
annual anthology dedicated solely to showcasing the best in contemporary
horror fiction. Comprising the most outstanding new short fiction by
both contemporary masters of horror and exciting newcomers, this
multiple award-winning series also offers an overview of the year in
horror, a comprehensive necrology of recent obituaries, and an
indispensable directory of contact details for dedicated horror fans and
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror remains the world's
leading annual anthology dedicated solely to presenting the best in
contemporary horror fiction.
I don't often do modern anthologies - for no other reasons really than I don't find them very often and I have more than enough old ones here to keep me going - but I came across this one recently and it caught my eye due to the presence of Mark Valentine and Reggie Oliver, the first being a writer I like very much and the second being one I've wanted to check out for a while now.
The collection is bookended by two long reviews of the year (2012) with the first being a what's happened and the second a who's died. Neither of these interested me much so I skipped them in their entirety. Of the stories, of which there are 22, they are generally pretty sound, which you should hope from the title of the anthology. There are some big names included here, Neil Gaiman provides a poem which didn't do much for me but I'm generally not much of a poetry buff, Ramsey Campbell provides a great fun, witchy bingo story full of cackling old women and Joe R. Lansdale has a fairly tasteless and unpleasant zombie tale.
Of the others there were a few standouts, Mark Valentine's 'The Fall of the King of Babylon' is a dark fantasy with interesting and unexpected tinges of Mervyn Peake and of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane stories, Steve Rasnic Tem's 'Waiting at the Crossroads Motel' had me singing a theme tune to myself (if you're a Brit of a certain age you'll know the one - if not) but offered up a satisfying piece of Loveceraftian mischief whilst Glen Hirshberg's 'His Only Audience' was an interestingly open ended slice of devilish whimsy. The rest were all readable to varying degrees with none standing out as particular stinkers and provided a suitable distraction as I navigated new year with a stinking cold and has left me quite curious about the other year's collections.
Buy it here - The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24 (Mammoth Books)