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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 22
edited by Stephen Jones
Robinson, 575 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 Dracula
SF Site Review: Visitants
SF Site Review: Zombie Apocalypse!
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 21
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 22 Now in its 22nd year, the classical Best New Horror anthology, compiled by Stephen Jones, remains one of the few opportunities, for those unfamiliar with the secrets of the genre magazines and of the small, specialized press, to enjoy some good horror fiction through the mass market channels, available even at the local bookstore (if still existing). For those who follow more closely the labyrinthine ways of horror fiction, Jones' annual compilation always provides material which somehow had escaped their attention, so at least a look to the table of contents is often worthwhile. Published, as customary, at the end of 2011, the present volume assembles twenty-three stories, which, according to Jones, represent the best dark fiction appeared in the course of 2010 on both sides of the ocean. In the past this sometimes has been true, other times extremely questionable. At any rate, Volume 22 does offer a great amount of excellent tales.

In most cases, having reviewed the original anthology where the story first appeared, I had pinpointed that particular piece as the highlight of the book. This applies, for instance to the outstanding "Fallen Boys" by Mark Morris, in which a class of schoolchildren, visiting a disused mine, witness a terrible vengeance from a dark past, "Substitutions" by Michael Marshall Smith, an insightful, superb exploration of the desire to live a different life, with a horrific, deeply disturbing ending and "Lavender and Lychgates" by Angela Slatter, a perceptive ghost story addressing the delicate aspects of missing motherly love.

Other great stories had already attracted my attention on the occasion of their first publication: the disquieting "Telling" where Steve Rasnic Tem discloses the hidden secrets of a haunted house, the surrealistic "Featherweight" by Robert Shearman, depicting a married couple trapped in the wreckage of their car after a road accident, the disturbing and fascinating "Losenef Express" by Mark Samuels, where an American traveler, on the run after committing an absurd murder, takes a train ride bound to a very unexpected destination, not to mention the multi-reprinted "Lesser Demons" in which Norman Partridge masterly blends Lovecraftian atmospheres and Zombie horror.

By contrast, a few other stories -- that I won't mention -- although included in this volume did not work for me the first time and just keep doing so.

Finally, the anthology features a number of tales that, for some reason, I had previously missed and that I was glad to enjoy thanks to Jones' acute selection.

Scott Edelman's "What Will Come After" is a splendid, emotional piece where the zombie condition is examined in detail beforehand by a man about to die and be reborn as a living dead.

Garry Kilworth pens "Out Back," a terrifying, unforgettable story in which an inhuman, murderous horror lurks in the bushes behind a remote cottage and John Langan contributes "City of the Dog," a nightmarish tale of urban horror featuring alien dogs, harbingers of terrible secrets.

"Christmas with the Dead" by Joe R. Lansdale is an excellent, vivid tale cleverly mixing human feelings and zombie horror, while "We All Fall Down" by Kirstyn McDermott is a deeply disquieting but moving story where lesbian love acquires a tragic, supernatural shade following a car accident.

Last but not least the book gives the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Albert E. Cowdrey, whose "Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History" is an exceptionally brilliant historical piece depicting both the tragedies and the natural and supernatural horrors taking place in a garrison located on a small island in front of New Orleans.

Needless to add: definitely a book to buy.

Copyright © 2012 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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