IMG_0012As it says on the tin, this is the fourth volume of the best horror stories as selected by Ellen Datlow for the year 2011, and an interesting mix it is too.

As always the book starts with an overview of the year, the award winners, major authors and new writers, anthologies and magazines all of which just goes to show that although I am a lover of horror I am clearly not keeping up with anything like the volume of material that’s out there and am in fact a rank amateur only dipping into the most popular stuff. Which is why of course anthologies like this one are just so valuable and I found my self taking notes of authors and books to look out for.

In terms of this collection, like any anthology there are stories that appeal more than others and some that don’t really appeal at all which is what makes it all so interesting.

For me the stand-out stories were:

  • The Moraine by Simon Bestwick – I’m hoping to visit the Lake District properly for the first time later this year; on the strength of this it’s fair to say we will not be hill walking….
  • Blackwood’s Baby by Laird Barron – early 20th century manly stuff with a hint of Machen
  • Dermot by (again) Simon Bestwick – really quite nasty police procedural
  • Final Verse by Chet Williamson – country music meets horror, what does that song really mean?

The rest were absolutely fine, worth mentioning a solid Stephen King I hadn’t read before, a really quite weird Peter Straub which I didn’t entirely understand and left me a bit unsatisfied and a very short piece by Anna Taborska which was in many ways a terrible story but was it actually horror.

Great fun to dip in and out of, and I already have volume five downloaded and ready to read.

A contribution to the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge.horrorbutton2014