Dark Horse Books, 2009
Having just finished four other books edited by Ellen Datlow, I have to say that this one has a wider range of good stories than the previous four volumes of The Best Horror of the Year do individually. It's still a mixed bag though, with some stories much better than the rest, some following under the category of "good and I'd probably look for more by their authors," and some that just didn't do it for me. In short, your typical anthology. If you're considering reading this one, keep in mind that the book was not intended to be a collection of Lovecraft pastiches but rather a collection of stories inspired by Lovecraft's work. Even so, it comes out a bit unevenly and while the authors each offer a brief write-up on how Lovecraft inspired their work, some of the stories seem to be a bit off.
So let's get down to business starting with the table of contents:
- “The Crevasse” by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud
- “The Office of Doom” by Richard Bowes
- “Sincerely, Petrified” by Anna Tambour
- “The Din of Celestial Birds” by Brian Evenson
- “The Tenderness of Jackals” by Amanda Downum
- “Sight Unseen” by Joel Lane
- “Cold Water Survival” by Holly Phillips
- “Come Lurk with Me and Be My Love” by William Browning Spencer
- “Houses Under the Sea” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
- “Machines of Concrete Light and Dark” by Michael Cisco
- “Leng” by Marc Laidlaw
- “In the Black Mill” by Michael Chabon
- “One Day, Soon” by Lavie Tidhar
- “Commencement” by Joyce Carol Oates
- “Vernon, Driving” by Simon Kurt Unsworth
- “The Recruiter” by Michael Shea
- “Marya Nox” by Gemma Files
- “Mongoose” by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
- “Catch Hell” by Laird Barron
- “That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable” by Nick Mamatas
The six that were (imho) good/not great but still deserving of a mention are "The Din of Celestial Birds," by Brian Evenson, “Come Lurk with Me and Be My Love” by William Browning Spencer, "Leng," by Marc Laidlaw -- I'm a total sucker for anything set on the Plateau of Leng, and "That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable” by Nick Mamatas. This one resonated with the idea that there's nothing one can do when confronted by cosmic forces beyond anyone's control and it appealed. And while "The Office of Doom" was kind of playful with its interlibrary loan of the Necronomicon, I'm still not quite sure about it. Ditto for "The Recruiter," which was dark enough for my weird tastes but kind of missing something there.
Obviously anyone reading this collection will have their own personal favorites, since as I've noted before, horror is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I'd recommend it -- there are many fine stories here.
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