The Years Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016 Edited by Paula Guran. Book review

THE YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY & HORROR 2016 edited by Paula Guran, Prime Books 2016
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Distinguished anthologist Paula Guran has delivered the latest volume in her successful annual series devoted to the best in short dark fiction published during the previous year.
The current book collects thirty stories appeared in print in 2015 in magazines, collections and anthologies. As it is always the case with this kind of anthologies, it’s hard to tell if the selected material is really the best of the year, so much so because other, similar books compiled by other editors seldom- with very few exceptions- include the same stories. Once again, personal taste remains the yardstick for any “best of” collections.
Another problem for the reviewer is that it is impossible ( and it would be extremely tedious) to comment upon each and every tale featured in the book. It’s enough to say that most of the stories are of good quality and worth reading.
Of course some contributions really stand out and deserve ,at least in my opinion ( any reviewer has, in turn, his/her own personal taste), to be expressely mentioned here.
First of all, I’d like to point out the superb “Snow”, yet another apocalyptic tale by the talented Dale Bailey,where the world is stricken by a deadly virus bringing about further horrors leading to a terrible outcome. Incidentally, that story has been also included in Datlow’s”Best Horror of the Year” anthology ,which proves that high quality makes anybody agree.
” The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson is a great, vivid story a bit on the SF side, featuring a girl incredibly able to escape death…at least for a while.
Kaaron Warren contributes “The Body Finder” , a perceptive ,melancholy piece about a man chasing the ghost ( and the body remains) of his murdered daughter.
The offbeat but fascinating and disquieting ” Daniel’s Theory About Dolls” by Stephen Graham Jones probes the dark secrets of a family where two brothers, living with the constant memory of an unborn little sister, develop an unhealthy obsession with dolls.
Finally, the volume includes “Ripper”, a wonderful novella by Angela Slatter cleverly revisiting the Jack the Ripper mystery. Although the story itself remains a bit implausible, it is so enjoyable and well written that the reader willingly concedes a total suspension of disbelief.
All in all a very good treat for horror and dark fantasy readers.

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