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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 21
edited by Stephen Jones
Robinson, 496 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: The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 20
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19
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

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 21 The annual Best New Horror anthology compiled by Stephen Jones has now reached volume twenty-one. First of all, ,the book continues to be the source of exhaustive and invaluable information about what has happened in the field of horror (books, magazines, movie etc.) during the previous year. On the other hand each volume ends with a massive Necrology section which, frankly, is of limited interest and is becoming exceedingly hefty (in the present volume 77 pages!) by mentioning the passing of any artist, writer, performer, composer, film director or technician even slightly or occasionally involved with horror.

Of course the core of each volume is represented by a number of horror stories considered by Jones the best of the year. The current anthology includes nineteen tales, a few of which overlap with the ones selected by the two other editors of Year's Best horror anthologies, Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran.

Compared with his two distinguished colleagues Jones appears to favor -- not surprisingly -- authors from the UK (58 percent) and to give less room to female authors (only 11 percent), but is more prone to select stories from single author collections (32 percent) ( Statistical figures courtesy of Peter Tennant).

So much for quantitative evaluations. As for the quality of the included material, this is generally quite good and occasionally excellent. In a fair amount of cases I do share Jones's choices from books I've read and reviewed while, predictably, in other instances, I don't feel that a particular story deserved to be pinpointed as the best from a certain collection. That's the rule of the game.

Among the various tales I'd like to mention, there is a very dark and enticing posthumous collaboration of Reggie Oliver with M.R. James ("The Game of Bear"), as well as a collaborative piece by Stephen King and son Joe Jill, the adrenaline-charged, breath-taking "Throttle."

Michael Kelly's chilling and atmospheric "The Woods" and the terrifying "Cold to the Touch" by Simon Strantzas provide cold shivers in every sense.

John Gasking's "Party Talk" and Nicholas Royle's "The Reunion" confirm the two authors extraordinary talent as a storytellers.

Veterans Ramsey Campbell ("Respects") and Brian Lumley ("The Nonesuch") contribute stories where the reality of everyday's life conceals more than what meets the eye while newcomers Rosalie Parker ("The Garden") and Simon Kurt Unsworth ("Mami Wata") manage to disquiet in a subtle, unassuming way.

In Barbara Roden's amazing "Out and Back" the ordinary report of a visit to an abandoned amusement park comes to a truly horrific ending while Stephen Volk's insightful "After the Ape" depicts the fate of the blonde girl actress after King Kong's death.

The variety and the quality of the included fiction certainly makes the book well worth reading.

Copyright © 2011 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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