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The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18
edited by Stephen Jones
Robinson, 574 pages

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18
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 50 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 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

Year after year Stephen Jones keeps selecting and assembling in a hefty volume what is supposedly the best in short horror fiction from both sides of the ocean. I won't discuss again the pros and cons of "year's best" anthologies where the editor's taste is the only yardstick for deciding which stories deserve to be included. It's the same old issue and anyone is free to agree or disagree upon the annual selection.

There are stories, however, which are so good and so well written that cannot fail to catch the attention of both readers and reviewers. In other words, high quality (and poor quality) fiction is easily recognizable beyond personal taste and it's not hard to concur about its merits. It's the middling quality that generates different opinions and conflicting comments.

The present volume does feature a number of excellent tales and I wholeheartedly agree with many of Jones's choices.

Outstanding examples are "What Nature Abhors" by Mark Morris, a superb, breathtaking tour de force of terror depicting a man who wakes up alone on a deserted train to be engulfed in a nightmarish adventure, and the splendid "The American Dead" by Jay Lake, a melancholy fable set in a marginal world of cruelty and poverty where a young boy nurses his personal version of the American Dream.

Wistfulness is also the leitmotif of Elizabeth Hand's beautiful and delicate "The Saffron Gatherers," in which the tenderness of a love bond between a man and a woman living apart and the hope for a brighter future are scattered by a natural disaster.

Gene Wolfe provides the exquisite "Sob in the Silence," a terrifying portrait of a ruthless murderer who finally finds his punishment, while Ramsey Campbell contributes the excellent "Digging Deep," describing the agonizing fate of a man buried alive.

Another winner comes from the pen of Glen Hirshberg who in "Devil's Smile" imparts a powerful sense of mystery and dread with the narrative of a sea tragedy revolving around a dilapidated lighthouse.

An endless, hot season is the real protagonist of the vivid, enjoyable "Summer" by Al Sarrantonio while a snowy winter provides the background for David Morrell's "They," a strong hair-raising tale featuring a man trapped in a lonely farm surrounded by mysterious, hungry creatures and struggling for survival.

Other bad places, apt to generate horror and disquiet are the empty house of a deceased woman believed to be a witch, as described by Lynda Rucker in the unsettling "The Last Reel" and the disused ghost stations of London underground where Mark Samuels has skilfully located his deeply disturbing "Sentinels."

Worth mentioning is also F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's "The Clockwork Horror" a clever piece in which a young Poe discovers that an Automaton chess player is an hoax unexpectedly related to his family history.

In addition to a fair amount of good fiction, Jones's The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18 provides, as always, an invaluable summation of the horror books and movies appeared during the previous year, as well as exhaustive information on the most interesting genre magazines and sites, small press publishers and award winners. One more reason for securing a copy of this "not to be missed" book.

Copyright © 2008 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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