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30 review for The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: Volume One

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    This collection of short stories is absolutely PHENOMENAL! I got a review copy from @kayepublicity and I’m so glad I did so that I could discover these stories. Out of the whole collection there was one, MAYBE two stories that I didn’t absolutely love and the rest all knocked it out of the park! I really loved that there were a lot of female authors in this collection, quite often they tend to be male centric and while I have nothing against male writes, some of my favourites are male, it’s nice This collection of short stories is absolutely PHENOMENAL! I got a review copy from @kayepublicity and I’m so glad I did so that I could discover these stories. Out of the whole collection there was one, MAYBE two stories that I didn’t absolutely love and the rest all knocked it out of the park! I really loved that there were a lot of female authors in this collection, quite often they tend to be male centric and while I have nothing against male writes, some of my favourites are male, it’s nice to see the ladies get some representation. I discovered SO many new authors who’s work I want to look into as well and that’s always exciting! This collection really has it all when it comes to horror and dark fantasy stories, from gruesome and gory to just downright bone chilling. Horror fans, you don’t want to miss out on this collection!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vince Darcangelo

    Faves: "Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart" - Sam J. Miller "Burrowing Machine" - Sara Saab "About the O'Dells" - Pat Cadigan "Thoughts and Prayers" - Ken Liu "Logic Puzzles" - Vaishnavi Patel "Haunted" - Carmen Maria Machado "Glass Eyes in Porcelain Faces" - Jack Westlake "Hunting by the River" - Daniel Carpenter Faves: "Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart" - Sam J. Miller "Burrowing Machine" - Sara Saab "About the O'Dells" - Pat Cadigan "Thoughts and Prayers" - Ken Liu "Logic Puzzles" - Vaishnavi Patel "Haunted" - Carmen Maria Machado "Glass Eyes in Porcelain Faces" - Jack Westlake "Hunting by the River" - Daniel Carpenter

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Reyome

    It is at long last 2021, and the Year of Living Hideously is over. Maybe; I mean, already we’ve seen an attempted coup in our government, a seditionist riot in Washington, and a second impeachment for He Who Ought Not Be Named. But what we do have, happily, are two truly wonderful and long-awaited year-end collections: Paula Guran’s “The Year’s Best Horror and Dark Fantasy Volume 1”, and Ellen Datlow’s “The Year’s Best Horror Volume 12”. As ever, I am going to look at the Guran book first, becau It is at long last 2021, and the Year of Living Hideously is over. Maybe; I mean, already we’ve seen an attempted coup in our government, a seditionist riot in Washington, and a second impeachment for He Who Ought Not Be Named. But what we do have, happily, are two truly wonderful and long-awaited year-end collections: Paula Guran’s “The Year’s Best Horror and Dark Fantasy Volume 1”, and Ellen Datlow’s “The Year’s Best Horror Volume 12”. As ever, I am going to look at the Guran book first, because it is traditionally my first read of the new year. The first thing long-time adherents of this series will note: the cover is different. Vastly different. The usual layout and graphics have changed, beginning with a full-page artwork. Very eye-catching. Also slick; whereas the previous editions’ covers were a bit more of a matte finish, except around the (smallish) cover pic. Part of me kinda likes it, part of me is a bit disappointed, because it will not match the previous Guran volumes I own. But that’s a very minor concern. As is the title, which lists this as “Volume 1”. All of the previous editions were, of course, “The Year’s Best Horror and Dark Fantasy 2009” and so on based on the year. Being as this is a new publisher, it is, I suppose, a fresh start. Either way, it’s still the inimitable Paula Guran making the picks here, and that simply cannot be a bad thing. I have rhapsodized in the past about her ability to somehow choose what I like, and suffice to say, she’s done it again. Now then. If you like short reviews, you might stop right there. Or, maybe… ...ah, good. You’re still reading. Then let’s get something out of the way first. One of my major beefs about the Prime editions of these collections were the crushingly innumerable typos found in them. I am so happy to be able to report that this year’s book is darned near free of the annoying typographical errors. Page 408 has the only real egregious example, and it’s easily spotted and just as easily ignored. More to the point. The content. There is a LOT to like here. As always, I will not attempt to summarize each story, I will just note the ones I really, really like. Beginning with, “Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart” by Sam J Miller. Oh my goodness. An end-of-the-world story, ho-hum…or…not. Why? Here’s a one-word clue: Kong. Yes, that Kong, and his femme fatale, and their fates, as related by a New York City cabdriver and soon to be spreader of death. Wow! This is an awesome piece of work. I was speechless. “The Surviving Child” by Joyce Carol Oates. I do not hesitate to admit, there are just some times I do not “get” her work. Maybe I have to be in a particular mood. In this case, I was definitely in the mood and I absolutely got it. I bet you will too. “About the O’Dells” by Pat Cadigan. What happens when a horrific event happens on your doorstep as a child, and how you go about purging yourself of the stain. Just amazing. Just amazing. I’ve already read it three times. I KEEP THESE BOOKS, by the way. Yes, I do re-read them! You should too. Then consider, “A Catalog of Storms” by Fran Wilde. Now, full disclosure: I live with two wannabe storm chasers, though I actually came closer to witnessing a tornado than either of them. I have yet to witness a somanyquestions or vivid or ashpale. Probably that’s a good thing. This story is lyrical and sad and wonderful. (I know, I know, I am listing a lot here, but this is just such a GOOD collection) “Logic Puzzles” by Vaishnavi Patel. As a lover of puzzles, this one grabbed me and held on. A young woman, new to the country, loves puzzles. She especially loves creating her own puzzles…and her puzzles have a strange effect on the world around her. The story is short and to the point. Terrific. What’s more, it is the first of three such brief shockers. “Conversations With the Sea Witch” by Theodora Goss is lovely…I could see Priya Sharma (absent from this year's collection, but trust me, do check out "Ormeshadow") doing this, but not any better. Beautiful, beautiful. Yes, there can be beauty in Dark Fantasy. And then there is “Haunt” by Carmen Maria Machado. The shortest of the lot, I think, and all the more brilliant in is subtle suddenness. Gee whiz, if I could write like this, I would be in these collections, not reviewing them. But that’s okay. I think I’m going to have to stop now, but not without listing my absolute revelations here. These are the authors I’m going to look for this year. First, Ellen Klages. Oh my, “Nice Things”. You’re going to want to read this one carefully. I’ve read it twice now. Wow. This one would’ve fit very nicely on Night Gallery. Then, Nghi Vo, and “Boiled Bones and Black Eggs”. The dinner guest who Will. Not. Go. Away. Beautifully done, dark and funny. And what a voice! And—almost at the end now—Aimee Ogden and “His Heart is the Haunted House”. If every story ever written is somewhat derivative of a predecessor, this one most certainly is NOT. What a concept, and what execution. If Klages belongs with Serling, this one is Creepshow, with George Romero bringing it to life. Just amazing, with a very satisfying conclusion. Except. There must be a BEST ONE. One story that stands above. Perhaps not far, but elevated nonetheless. And in this volume, that distinction must go to Seanan McGuire and “Phantoms of the Midway”. I don’t mind admitting that I am an emotional person and cry at the drop of a hat, but this story of a carny girl who is not all she seems had me in weirdly happy tears. I shall let McGuire’s own words at the climax describe it: “It’s a little shivery, but you want to be there anyway. You want to know what happens next.” Indeed I do, Seanan, indeed I do. You can’t see me, but I am standing and applauding…whilst simultaneously wiping a few stray tears. As happens in all such collections, there are a few tales that do not grab me as others do. But, taste. There’s no accounting for it. Doesn’t mean that they are any less deserving of note, just that I didn’t draw that frisson or joy from them I might’ve. Maybe it’s just a matter of mood, as with the Joyce Carol Oates story above. Maybe my tea didn’t steep thoroughly, or I was cold. God knows that’s possible these days; I stay cold. Hell, I’m cold right now and it’s 3 in the afternoon. Who can explain that? A cardiologist or oncologist, maybe, but right now I have no insurance so that’s out of the question. Anyway. I am so happy to be able to review this book. It has been a constant in my life the past dozen years, and with its new home at Pyr, I hope it’s set for a continuation of its long and fruitful run. That there are so many new names again is a wonderful thing, and the quality is beyond question. Paula Guran continues to have that touch, the ability to pick out what can either frighten or amuse or perhaps tug (or yank!) the heartstrings. This year she’s even included a listing of further reading, which is either a good thing or bad depending on how much free time you have, or wish you had. In any case, despite the unforeseen and mostly unpleasant events of 2020, I nonetheless go into the new year with renewed hope. Thank you Paula Guran, and I hope we meet again under happier circumstances this time next year.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan C. McCarthy-Biank

    Guran has edited/curated a few dozen anthologies over the years, along with annual collections of The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than the seemingly obvious – a collection of scary stories personally chosen by Guran. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I got that and so much more. All the authors featured in this anthology are talented and offer a mix of creepy, eerie, dark, disturbing, surreal, and troublesome narratives. On the other hand, while da Guran has edited/curated a few dozen anthologies over the years, along with annual collections of The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than the seemingly obvious – a collection of scary stories personally chosen by Guran. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I got that and so much more. All the authors featured in this anthology are talented and offer a mix of creepy, eerie, dark, disturbing, surreal, and troublesome narratives. On the other hand, while dark, I found some of them to be a bit comforting as well. Usually I’m hesitant to read short stories because they often offer no closure and leave the reader wanting more. While the stories featured in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Vol. 1 are no exception, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this book. Read my full review at The Nerd Cantina. Listen to my interview with author Paula Guran on Episode 112 of The Nerd Cantina podcast.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Not quite horror as in scare you sh*tless. More like, Politically Corect ghost stories... The Fourth Trimester Is the Strangest • REBECCA CAMPBELL [***] Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart • SAM J. MILLER [***] The Surviving Child • JOYCE CAROL OATES [***] The Promise of Saints • ANGELA SLATTER [**] Burrowing Machines • SARA SAAB [**] About the O’Dells • PAT CADIGAN [**] A Catalog of Storms • FRAN WILDE [**] Thoughts and Prayers • KEN LIU [****] Logic Puzzles • VAISHNAVI PATEL [**] A Strange Uncertain Not quite horror as in scare you sh*tless. More like, Politically Corect ghost stories... The Fourth Trimester Is the Strangest • REBECCA CAMPBELL [***] Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart • SAM J. MILLER [***] The Surviving Child • JOYCE CAROL OATES [***] The Promise of Saints • ANGELA SLATTER [**] Burrowing Machines • SARA SAAB [**] About the O’Dells • PAT CADIGAN [**] A Catalog of Storms • FRAN WILDE [**] Thoughts and Prayers • KEN LIU [****] Logic Puzzles • VAISHNAVI PATEL [**] A Strange Uncertain Light • G. V. ANDERSON [***] Conversations With the Sea Witch • THEODORA GOSS [***] Haunt • CARMEN MARIA MACHADO [**] Nice Things • ELLEN KLAGES [***] Glass Eyes in Porcelain Faces • JACK WESTLAKE [**] Phantoms of the Midway • SEANAN MCGUIRE [*] Hunting by the River • DANIEL CARPENTER [**] Boiled Bones and Black Eggs • NGHI VO [***] His Heart Is the Haunted House • AIMEE OGDEN [**] In That Place She Grows a Garden • DEL SANDEEN [**] The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye • SARAH PINSKER [***] The Coven of Dead Girls • L’ERIN OGLE [**] Blood Is Another Word for Hunger • RIVERS SOLOMON [**] The Thing, With Feathers • MARISSA LINGEN [**] Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future • CARLIE ST. GEORGE [***] Read After Burning • MARIA DAHVANA HEADLEY [***]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    Great collection, will definitely add next year's edition to the must buy pile. Ken Liu's Thoughts and Prayers was the most collected story for the year (deservedly so) but other great stories from this collection included works from Angela Slatter, Pat Cadigan, Fran Wilde, Seanan McGuire and Rivers Solomon. Great collection, will definitely add next year's edition to the must buy pile. Ken Liu's Thoughts and Prayers was the most collected story for the year (deservedly so) but other great stories from this collection included works from Angela Slatter, Pat Cadigan, Fran Wilde, Seanan McGuire and Rivers Solomon.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Am Y

    I gave up after 2.5 stories, not wanting to waste more of my time with this. I absolutely hated the narrative style, for one, and secondly, the first 2 stories went absolutely nowhere. The third I had to stop reading because it was just so long-winded and appeared to be going nowhere too. I bet it could be shortened to 2 pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Don’t get me wrong, these were well written stories. But almost none of them felt dark fantasy or horror to me. Just angst mostly. Guess I went into this looking for something different based on the title of the collection or I would’ve rated it higher.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Ken Liu’s “Thoughts and Prayers” was the standout story in this anthology

  10. 5 out of 5

    Annarella

    Excellent. It made me discover new to me authors and read some new works by beloved authors. It's highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine Excellent. It made me discover new to me authors and read some new works by beloved authors. It's highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kittin

    some good some less. more good than bad tho.

  12. 5 out of 5

    misterman1231

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Reid

  15. 5 out of 5

    janice Hayes

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa A Brewer

  17. 5 out of 5

    sean hunt

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allison Grabowski

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Hardin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  24. 4 out of 5

    Weez

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josh Strnad

  27. 5 out of 5

    Megan Lembach

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beryle Roach

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt O'Herron

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

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