The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 (2009), edited by Stephen Jones (2010):


Stephen Jones – Introduction: Horror in 2009

Michael Kelly – The Woods
Joe Hill & Stephen King – Throttle
Barbara Roden – Out And Back
Ramsey Campbell – Respects
Simon Stranzas – Cold To The Touch
M. R. James & Reggie Oliver – The Game Of Bear
Chris Bell – Shem-El-Nesime: An Inspiration In Perfume
Michael Marshall Smith – What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night
Nicholas Royle – The Reunion
Simon Kurt Unsworth – Mami Wata
Richard Christian Matheson – Venturi
John Gaskin – Party Talk
Terry Dowling – Two Steps Along The Road
Mark Valentine – The Axholme Toll
Robert Shearman – Granny’s Grinning
Rosalie Parker – In The Garden
Stephen Volk – After The Ape
Brian Lumley – The Nonesuch
Michael Kelly – Princess Of The Night
Stephen Jones & Kim Newman – Necrology: 2009

Another fine ‘Best of Year’ collection from uber-editor Jones. The page count seems to have been clawed back by about 100 pages, though Jones seems to have compensated by choosing fewer novellas and more short stories. The Necrology and Year in Horror sections are exhaustive and invaluable as always, while I can’t fault the wide-ranging selection of horror and dark fantasy contained herein. I actually liked all of these stories; the selection seemed more influenced by M.R. James than usual, perhaps fitting for a collection that includes a posthumous (for James) M.R. James collaboration.

The first team-up between Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill (that’s Joe King’s nom de plume) is a hoot, an homage to Richard Matheson’s “Duel” (adapted into an excellent movie directed by Stephen Spielberg). Canadian Michael Kelly gets two (!) short entries; Ramsey Campbell offers a thematic sequel to his much earlier short story “The Sneering”; creepy goings-on occur at university reunions (“The Reunion”), the Canadian North (“The Woods”); Cairo (“Shem-El-Nesime: An Inspiration In Perfume”); Africa (“Mami Wata”); Viet Nam (“Two Steps Along The Road”); and in New York after the death of King Kong (“After the Ape”). Highly recommended.

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