The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight edited By Ellen Datlow. Book review

The Best Horror of the Year  Volume Eight edited By Ellen Datlow, Trade Paperback Night Shade Books 2016

Review by Mario Guslandi

Traditionally, this is the time when distinguished editor Ellen Datlow delivers her annual overview of what happened in the field of horror during the previous year and selects the stories she considers the best  ones appeared in magazines, anthologies and collections during that given year.

Volume eight assembles twenty horror tales published in 2015 from both sides of the ocean. Are these really the most accomplished stories appeared in print? Possibly.  Is there other material which would have deserved inclusion in the book? Most likely. But these are inevitable questions with any “best of” anthology.

The reviewer’s task, therefore, can only be to emphasize , among the selected stories, which ones are particularly impressive. In other words, a reviewer can only try to pinpoint “the best of the (supposedly) best”.

Indeed, many of the included tales are of superior quality.

Laird Barron’s “In a Cavern, In a Canyon” is an outstanding tale graced by an extraordinary narrative style depicting a subtle, ominous type of hidden vampirism, while Stephen Bacon’s “Lord of the Sand” is a masterly crafted piece depicting the well deserved fate of a  stern former sergeant who served in Iraq.

“Wilderness” by Letitia Trent , an enigmatic tale full of subtle menace, takes place in an airport’s crowded lounge. In the excellent   “Underground Economy” by John Langan a lap dancer’s life gets changed forever by unexpected, unfathomable events.

“The Rooms are High” by the extraordinary Reggie Oliver is a splendid piece of quiet horror imbued with eroticism where a widower vacationing in a seaside town takes lodgings in a very unusual house.

My personal favorite is perhaps the superb “Snow”, yet another of  Dale Bailey’s apocalyptic stories,this time set in a world stricken by a deadly virus, and with further horrors to come, as shown in the cruel, chilling ending.

Once again, an invaluable book, featuring excellent short fiction and , in addition, providing  as always precious information about what happened in the horror field last year.