THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR vol.13 edited by Ellen Datlow
Night Shade Books, ebook, £11.04
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
It’s that time of the year, and legendary editor Ellen Datlow releases yet another volume in her successful ongoing series “ Best Horror of the Year, where she selects twenty-five horror stories ( plus the usual honourable mentions) from the massive production that appeared in print during 2020.
These are the occasions when I really envy her job, which to a lover of horror fiction, sounds like the most pleasant job in the world.
Choices are always totally subjective, as shown by the fact that overlapping with other “Year’s Best” anthologies rarely occurs and that in the past, I haven’t always totally shared Ellen’s opinion in her editorial selections, but as for this particular volume, I must say that I strongly support her choices. And among the titles she has singled out, I’ll take my pick.
Exhalation #10 by AC Wise is an outstanding, insightful story featuring a man with a peculiar hearing ability, able to find the traces of a ruthless serial killer, so helping the policeman he secretly loves, while A Deed Without a Name by Jack Lothian is a fascinating dark fable where three sisters are forced to face inexplicable horrors in difficult times.
Richard Gavin provides Scold’s Bridle: A Cruelty, an unusual tale exploring a different nature of sadism, and Stephen Volk contributes Sicko, a superb story where an unfaithful secretary steals a big sum from the safe in her employer’s office only to become the victim of both blackmail and personal disappointment.
The splendid Mouselode Maze by Christopher Harman revisits in an enticing, intriguing way the disquieting mysteries of the British mazes, while the excellent Scream Queen by Nathan Ballingrud portrays a former movie star, now an old lady still fighting with the demon possessing her soul.
Pete W Sutton’s We Do Like to Be Beside is a gentle yet very disturbing piece set among the dunes of a seashore, with the texture of a dream quickly turning into a nightmare.
The offbeat Contrition (1998) by JAW McCarthy revolves around a peculiar movie producing untoward effects on the people watching it, while the unsettling Tethered Dogs by Gary McMahon is about a dying young woman able to predict the time of death of other persons.
As always, the volume is enhanced by a huge overview of anything which took place in the horror field during the previous year ( novels, collections, anthologies, magazines, websites etc.).
And realizing how many interesting books I’ve missed during the year 2020, I’m feeling even more envious…