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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19
edited by Stephen Jones
Robinson, 624 pages

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is the winner of multiple World Fantasy Awards, the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Awards, British Fantasy Awards and a Hugo Award nominee. A full-time columnist, television producer/director and genre movie publicist and consultant, Stephen Jones is also one of Britain's most acclaimed anthologists of horror and dark fantasy. He has edited and written more than 100 books, including: Shadows Over Innsmouth; Exorcisms and Ecstasies, a Karl Edward Wagner collection; and Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror. He is co-editor of a number of series including Best New Horror, Dark Terrors and Dark Voices. He lives in London, England.

Stephen Jones Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: H.P. Lovecraft In Britain
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Monsters
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #17
SF Site Review: Shadows Over Innsmouth
SF Site Review: Dark Terrors 5
SF Site Review: White of the Moon
SF Site Review: Dark of the Night

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19 Enhanced by the usual list of genre books and movies from the previous season, news, obituaries and addresses of interest to horror fans, here's the annual collection of the allegedly best horror stories published during the year.

For the nineteenth volume in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror series, editor Stephen Jones has assembled twenty-six stories penned by a number of distinguished genre writers. Let me tell right away that the inclusion of some excellent authors (some of whom are among my favourite) seems due more to their reputation than to the actual quality of the selected tales.

Sadly, this is the case with names such as Michael Marshall Smith, Neil Gaiman, David Sutton, Tom Piccirilli and Mark Samuels, all fine writers who here, clearly, are not at their best.

On the other hand, the volume features many superlative tales which deserve praise and a special mention by the reviewer. First of all, "The Church on the Island" by newcomer Simon Kurt Unsworth, is an exquisite piece set in a forsaken Greek island, conveying a strong sense of mystery and uneasiness. "The Twilight Express" by veteran Christopher Fowler is an outstanding, gloomy tale where a young man wary of becoming a father learns too late life's true values.

Among the very best stories in the volume are also Marc Lecard's "The Admiral's House," a powerful tale revisiting a very traditional subject (a murderer haunted by his victim's ghost) in a strong, compelling fashion and Glen Hirshberg's "Miss Ill-Kept Runt," a spellbinding story about unspoken family secrets told in an obscure but captivating narrative style.

Simon Strantzas' "The Other Village" is an allusive, disturbing story featuring two ladies taking an unfortunate vacation. Joel Lane's "Still Water" is a solid noir full of tension and excitement and Joe Landsdale's "Deadman's Road" is a delightful western zombie tale.

Horror master Ramsey Campbell contributes "Peep," not exactly what you expect to find in a horror anthology, but a great piece of mainstream fiction where the real horror is getting old and having to deal with modern grandkids.

Other remarkable contributions are "From Around Here" by Tim Pratt, an excellent fantasy tale exploring the unusual subject of genius loci, "Thumbprint" by Joe Hill, an original mix of post-war terror and private paranoia set in contemporary Iraq and "Lancashire" by Nicholas Royle an accomplished, distressing story where a young couple visiting friends has to face an unexpected nightmare.

Reggie Oliver's superb and chilling "The Children of Monte Rosa" portrays the secrets surrounding the secluded existence of an English couple living in Portugal while Conrad Williams' insightful "Tight Wrappers" scrutinizes a man's fatal obsession with rare books.

In Joel Knight's offbeat "Calico Black, Calico Blue" a weird lady shares her life with a bunch of disquieting dolls.

Finally, I'd like to recommend Christopher Harman's "Behind the Clouds: In Front of the Sun," which could be defined "a beautiful failure." Starting up with the fascinating idea of a globe reproducing a different world, the story develops in a rather confusing and implausible way, jolting along by means of a nervous narrative pace, nevertheless gripping the reader's attention until the last sentence thanks to the author's powerful imagination.

Other contributors to this interesting volume are Gary McMahon, Mike O'Driscoll, Tony Richards, Steven Erikson, Catlin R. Kiernan and Kim Newman.

Copyright © 2009 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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