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The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven

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For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the tenth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the tenth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman Kim Stanley Robinson Stephen King Linda Nagata Laird Barron Margo Lanagan And many others With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today's most challenging and exciting writers.


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For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the tenth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the For more than three decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the tenth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman Kim Stanley Robinson Stephen King Linda Nagata Laird Barron Margo Lanagan And many others With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today's most challenging and exciting writers.

30 review for The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jen - The Tolkien Gal

    In memory of Gardner Dozois? He passed away? I had no idea. The world of anthologies is bereft of its master. I'll be reviewing each short story as I finish it so future me will thank past me in a well-earned time travel handshake. Each short story's review is structured as follows: 1) A description of the genre 2)An overall view of my taste or distaste at the story 3) Some useful star ratings. Wait, Gardner Dozois passed away last year? That's horrible. I had no idea. The world of antho In memory of Gardner Dozois? He passed away? I had no idea. The world of anthologies is bereft of its master. I'll be reviewing each short story as I finish it so future me will thank past me in a well-earned time travel handshake. Each short story's review is structured as follows: 1) A description of the genre 2)An overall view of my taste or distaste at the story 3) Some useful star ratings. Wait, Gardner Dozois passed away last year? That's horrible. I had no idea. The world of anthologies is bereft of its master. I Remember Nothing: Anne Billson: ★★★★ What if you wake up next to your suspected rapist? The room is wholly unfamiliar and rancid. You have stiff, stretched and threadbare muscles and painful twangs in your thighs. What if, when you confront him, he says "what did you put in my drink?" Well, a post-it-note hunt ensues, packed with decapitated, talking heads that tell you remembering will set you free. Genre: splatter gore, psychological horror, Shyamalan Characters: ★★★ Scare factor: ★★★ Dread factor: ★★★★ Suspense: ★★★★ Creature feature: ★★★★ Shyamalan Twist (if featured): ★★★★ Plot: ★★★ Ambience: ★★★ Writing: ★★★ Monkey's on the Beach: ★★½ "When you have something old, wash it new." This story doesn't belong in a horror anthology. This story was a hodgepodge horror that tried to be new and nuanced but was more of a family tragedy than a horror. Don, his wife Selene and his children, Lisbeth and Geoffrey are on a holiday on a remote island. "Geoffrey took the rushing water from his stepmother, fingers feeling the vibration of the hard green rubber. Sucked in breath. So many new adventures, when you're young. Things become strange, almost like a small town horror. The family washes their rental car and Don receives a ticket for wasting water...on an island. Sheriff Axonil gives him another ticket for a mysterious Cyrillic satellite that breaks the pool of the rental house they are in. But how is the sheriff always there on time? It's never explained. Things get darker and so much worse when the children feed wild monkeys - from there on; ho boy. "The lead monkey sat up, brown hindquarter setting down in the sand..as if begging, big lips pulling back, exposing his fangs, chattering." The monkey rips out Lisbeth's eye. Things get dark. Don drinks more. The ending is a despondent and disappointing end to an interesting concept. The writing is very much Cormac McCarthy, and there is evocative and stirrings pieces on familial relations. The story challenges the trope of the evil stepmother by providing a kind, gentle one. Genre: small town horror, vacation-gone-wrong, family-paranoia Characters: ★★★★ Scare factor: ★ Dread factor: ★★★★ Suspense: ★★ Creature feature: ★ Shyamalan Twist (if featured): ★★ Plot: ★★ Ambience: ★★ Writing: ★★★★ Painted By Wolves by Ray Cluley:★★★ A crew of nature documentary directors and voice actors go to South Africa to capture some rare footage. They do just that - they capture wild dogs catching and devouring a wildebeest. It's certainly something I've never seen. Tom is unsettled by this despite all killings he's seen in the wild. There's something unnatural about the way the wild dog looks him dead in the eyes. And then the idiot decides to take out a bottle of Mampoer. What is Mampoer? Well let me tell you, it's not a type of brandy like Wikipedia alleges. Hearken and hear my call - that stuff is closer in concentration to alcohol swabs than brandy. I'm not talking store Mampoer - I mean the stuff that gets distilled in Oom Jan's backyard. So, basically legal moonshine. Jy's mal as jy dink dat brandewyn na aan Mampoer is - brannewyn gee jou net babbelaas maar Mampoer is a blerrie doodstraf. This was the third story in this anthology and so far the horror does not have my skin crawling at all. However, Tom, the main character, perceives his fellow humans in an interesting fashion. He's especially careful and gentle of his descriptions of Jenny, and ex Big Brother star, with whom he is in love. The characters are fleshed out well - figuratively and literally. Overall, this is a done to death Invasion of the Body Snatchers type story. Genre: David-Attenborough gone wrong, Maybe-the-human-is-the-real-beast Characters: ★★★★ Scare factor: ★ Dread factor: ★★★ Suspense: ★★ Creature feature: ★★★ Shyamalan Twist (if featured): ★★ Plot: ★★ Ambience: ★★★ Writing: ★★★

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    3.5 stars--somewhere between liked and really liked. However, I'm bumping this up to 4 stars due to the strength of the historical shipwreck story "Haunt." This story, about the slave trade, guilt, and personal responsibility, blew me away. (And so timely.) It echoed a lot of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and was absolutely stunning; it made me tear up. Another standout for me was "The Donner Party." Yes, it's about eating people, but not how you think--this is an English Regency roma 3.5 stars--somewhere between liked and really liked. However, I'm bumping this up to 4 stars due to the strength of the historical shipwreck story "Haunt." This story, about the slave trade, guilt, and personal responsibility, blew me away. (And so timely.) It echoed a lot of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and was absolutely stunning; it made me tear up. Another standout for me was "The Donner Party." Yes, it's about eating people, but not how you think--this is an English Regency romance (really!) with added cannibalism. The slow creeping dread was really well done. The remaining two stories I especially enjoyed were "No Exit," about cults and cosmic horror, and "Back Along the Old Track," which reminded me of the notorious X-Files episode called "Home." Following are (very) short reviews for each story. I Remember Nothing – Anne Billson: 3 stars. Some trippy imagery and good descriptions of violence. Monkeys on the Beach – Ralph Robert Moore: 2 stars. Meh. Depressing. Not really horror, but more about the awful things that happen in life and a sort of nihilism about them. (At least, that was my reading!) Painted Wolves – Ray Cluley: 2 stars. Also depressing. About being unable (unwilling?) to stop terrible things from happening. Lots of animal and sexual violence. Shit Happens – Michael Marshall Smith: 3 stars. Scary monsters combined with gross humor is probably not everyone's thing, but I enjoyed it. You Know How the Story Goes – Thomas Olde Heuvelt: 3 stars. Good urban legend story. Back Along the Old Track – Sam Hicks: 4 stars. I adore folk horror, and this is a creepy example. Masks – Peter Sutton: 3 stars. A retelling of "The Lottery." I really liked it, but felt it was nothing new. The Donner Party – Dale Bailey: 5 stars. Love the twist in this story and the slow creeping dread as you realize just what kind of person the protagonist is. Milkteeth – Kristi DeMeester: 3 stars. Brief but intriguing. Haak – John Langan: 3 stars. Almost 4 stars but it verges on being a bit cheesy for me. However, I loved the literary references. Thin Cold Hands – Gemma Files: 4 stars. I'm a sucker for these "fairy" narratives. I thought the writing was a bit awkward, though, which is strange since I usually like Files. A Tiny Mirror by Eloise – C. C. Shepherd: 2 stars. This is spooky, but barely a story. I Love You Mary-Grace – Amelia Mangan: 4 stars. Loved the weird imagery (the dog head) and the conclusion. The Jaws of Ouroboros – Steve Toase: 3 stars. I'm not huge into stories about cartel/gang violence, but standing stones that become teeth and chew up the landscape? Hell yeah! A Brief Moment of Rage – Bill Davidson: 3 stars. Sad, violent, and timely. Golden Sun – Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt: 3 stars. I liked the varying viewpoints, but they also made things vague. White Mare – Thana Niveau: 3 stars. This should have been great (again, I adore folk horror), but the writing seemed too simplistic and there were some unanswered questions. Girls Without Their Faces On – Laird Barron: 4 stars. I always enjoy Barron. Here he combines two of his loves: Alaska and cosmic horror. Thumbsucker – Robert Shearman: I don't know--3 stars? This is a very uncomfortable story, one that functions on a symbolic level. On the literal level it's super gross, lol. You Are Released – Joe Hill: 4 stars. I disliked reading this story, about being on a commercial flight when WW3 breaks out--I found it upsetting. But isn't that what horror is supposed to do? Thus the high rating. Red Rain – Adam-Troy Castro: 3 stars. Ahhh so gory! Split Chain Stitch – Steve Toase: My galley is missing this story. Not sure if it's been cut or just an error with the proof. (Likely the latter.) No Exit – by Orrin Grey: 4 stars. Cults and cosmic horror--two of my favorite things in horror stories. Haunt – Siobhan Carroll: 5 enormous stars. Wow. This story alone is worth the price of the book. About guilt and personal culpability. Not for the faint hearted. Sleep – Carly Holmes:My galley is missing this story. Not sure if it's been cut or just an error with the proof. (Likely the latter.) I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    You know the drill with these. I Remember Nothing – Anne Billson A woman wakes up with no memory of the night before, next to a man she doesn't know and draws the obvious conclusions, which turn out to be wrong. Gorier than I usually like, although I appreciated the nightmare urgency and confusion of the whole scenario. Surreal body horror, emphasis on the horror (and the bodily fluids). From an anthology of stories inspired by Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures - I think we're running out of anthol You know the drill with these. I Remember Nothing – Anne Billson A woman wakes up with no memory of the night before, next to a man she doesn't know and draws the obvious conclusions, which turn out to be wrong. Gorier than I usually like, although I appreciated the nightmare urgency and confusion of the whole scenario. Surreal body horror, emphasis on the horror (and the bodily fluids). From an anthology of stories inspired by Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures - I think we're running out of anthology themes. Monkeys on the Beach – Ralph Robert Moore A young second wife vacations with her husband and stepchildren on a Carribean island. Cultural differences are throwing everything off-kilter before the outright surreal tragedies start. Ends in a jackhammer stream of brutally short, chopping sentences. I really liked this one. Fictional step parents don't often get a chance to shine! Painted Wolves – Ray Cluley In South Africa's Kruger National Park, a crew(the sad sack sound guy narrator, a bully, and a lackey) and the Z-list celebrity host (a starlet whose closest claim to fame was being on Big Brother) of the nature documentary they're making are briefly stalked by African hunting dogs. Violence comes from another direction. I'm torn about this one - I would love to never read another story about this kind of violence for the rest of my life, but it was well-written, the dogs were suitably creepy (and a nice red herring), the structure (addressed from the sad sack to the starlet) was nice, and the ending dissolution was well-differentiated from the previous narrative. Shit Happens – Michael Marshall Smith Literally. Shit zombies. Do with that what you will. You Know How the Story Goes – Thomas Olde Heuvelt An urban legend role reversal where the narrator/victim is the hitchhiker picked up by a supernatural entity in Croatia. The Tall Lady is a creepy presence of ever-shifting proportions, but she doesn't make up for an annoying narrative voice and the whole thing felt a bit too creepypasta (ugh) for me. Back Along the Old Track – Sam Hicks English folk horror about a creepy, isolated family and an anxious visitor from the city. Shades of Poroth Farm, always a good thing. Doesn’t quite stick the landing but for the author’s first published work this is very impressive. Masks - Peter Sutton A sharp little number about shipwreck survivors that nicely trickles out details and knows exactly when to end. More surreal than she usually worked, but echoes Shirley Jackson. The Donner Party - Dale Bailey Cannibals, but not the ones you think. Unsettling class politics in Victorian England, also exactly as long as it needed to be and with a sharp, perfect ending. I really need to dig more deeply into Bailey's work - I was just thinking about "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" the other day. Milkteeth - Kristi DeMeester Another anthology mainstay, DeMeester continues to hone a very particular and personal kind of story: nightmarish, hazy, focused on women’s/girls' experiences of family and predation and socialization. Beautiful work. Haak - John Langan An astonishing cavalcade of literary allusions and nested narratives hinging on Peter (The Great God) Pan bookended by a paean to the power of teaching. Thin Cold Hands - Gemma Files A changeling story, an undead(?) fairy(?) facetiously(?) compared to Tinkerbell (hints of Haak!). Creepy but something about the prose style kept me from connecting with it fully. Files knows what she's doing so this was probably on purpose. A Tiny Mirror - Eloise C. C. Shepherd A child's imaginary(?) friend helps him cope with his father's death. Builds a mood nicely but then it's over just as it seems like it's getting going. Rather old-fashioned, right up to the strangely inconsequential framing device. I Love You Mary-Grace - Amelia Mangan A deconstructed werewolf story, the narrator's ennui and loneliness channeled through choppy sentences and increasingly-sensory details of rural poverty and suburban disconnection. Good stuff! The Jaws of Ouroboros - Steve Toase Standing stones turn out to be mysterious mouths that begin devouring the UK. An intriguing setup, although I had a bit of trouble following the imagery on a mechanical level, and the actual plot of drugdealing savagery didn't do much for me. A Brief Moment of Rage - Bill Davidson A deconstructed zombie story (sensing a theme here?); short and punchy, with a great last line. Golden Sun – Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt Four recollections about a middle child's disappearance on a family vacation. Creepy refrains, unreliable(ish) narrators, vague and unsettling, just the way I like it. White Mare - Thana Niveau Mari-Lwyd-adjacent folk horror about an American girl and her single dad inheriting a house in the UK that comes with a horse BFF. Very YA-ish (ie not the way I like it). Girls Without Their Faces On - Laird Barron A woman realizes her mysterious new boyfriend is privy to things that should not be. Excellent cosmic horror about final girls and Alaska. There's one absolutely haunting scene in this one (involving puppet strings) that I'm going to be hung up on for a long time. Thumbsucker - Robert Shearman A man’s elderly father starts sucking his thumb after dinner one day, which seems to be a social phenomenon. Shades of “Dangerous Laughter,” loneliness, and human contact. Not really horror but I’m glad to have read it. You Are Released - Joe Hill A passenger jet full of caricatures take turns relaying the beginning of a nuclear WWIII. A real throwback, both to Cold War era apocalyptic fiction and to 2017's momentary panic over North Korea threatening Guam. Hill never connects with me. Red Rain - Adam-Troy Castro Bodies begin to rain from the sky. Incredibly bloody and effectively stressfully told in a second person interrogative voice (Note that that's how I reviewed Datlow's collection last year and my lawyers will be contacting Castro soon). This sort of gorefest is usually very much not to my taste but the voice and narrative momentum of this story is undeniable. Very good stuff. Split Chain Stitch - Steve Toase A knitting club is up to no good and the cop trying to infiltrate them comes to no good end. Rather pro forma, down to the ominous knitting instructions sprinkled throughout. No Exit - Orrin Grey Years after a cult massacre, the sister of one of the victims lets her curiosity get the better of her. Feels like a strong Barron influence (a good thing), until the very un-LB ending, not the usual kind of denouement I enjoy but here it was effective. Haunt - Siobhan Carroll A slow shipwreck and _something_ out in the storm prompt confessions from the crewmembers who used to work the slave trade. Heavy, wonderfully realized, absolutely crushing. Sleep - Carly Holmes An absolutely harrowing story of the exhaustion of single mothers, especially those whose child is some sort of sleep vampire. An excellent end to the volume.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Every year as summer turns to autumn, I start reading all the horror novels and short stories I can get my hands on. I sit out on my porch on cool fall evenings reading whatever chilling, spooky bit of fiction (or even non-fiction) has come to hand. This year, my horror season started early as I discovered story anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow. OMG....how did I miss these?? Datlow has been editing fantasy, sci-fi and horror anth Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Every year as summer turns to autumn, I start reading all the horror novels and short stories I can get my hands on. I sit out on my porch on cool fall evenings reading whatever chilling, spooky bit of fiction (or even non-fiction) has come to hand. This year, my horror season started early as I discovered story anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow. OMG....how did I miss these?? Datlow has been editing fantasy, sci-fi and horror anthologies for 25 years. I am SO glad that I received a review copy of this book because my TBR pile has grown exponentially in my three favorite genres! The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11 gathers 25 stories Some of the authors were familar favorites (like Joe Hill for example) and others were new to me (Carly Holmes, Laird Barron). This is a varied, outstanding collection of horror fiction! There wasn't a single story I didn't like. Some were more to my taste than others....but the joy of a story anthology is that it's a collection of differing writing styles and flavors. I read this story collection slowly, giving myself time to enjoy it. One or two stories a night...took time to read up on the authors....and smiled as my TBR list got a lot larger. I added several books and stories by the featured authors to my must-read list, as well as every anthology edited by Ellen Datlow. :) I will be kept in horror, fantasy and sci-fi bliss for the foreseeable future! At the back of the book there is also an "honorable mention'' list for stories that almost made the cut for this anthology....I'm going to find those stories or other works by those authors and read those as well! My library has several of the back volumes of this series as audio books! I'm so excited! I can have some outstanding horror read to me! Woot! :) Great book! Full stars from me! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Skyhorse Publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  5. 4 out of 5

    Annie Neugebauer

    Stellar. One of my favorites in this series—so many stand-outs: “Painted Wolves” by Ray Cluley “The Donner Party” by Dale Bailey “Thin Cold Hands” by Gemma Files “Golden Sun” by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehung “Haunt” by Siobhan Carrol “Sleep” by Carly Holmes And many others I enjoyed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Noel Penaflor

    It feels odd reviewing a "Best of" compilation, because, well, you have to assume it's not going to suck. It doesn't suck because...see above sentence. Standouts included 'You Are Released' by Joe Hill, one of the scariest short stories I have ever read. "A Brief Moment of Rage" by Bill Davidson "My Year as a White Woman," by DJimon Hounsou Okay, that last one doesn't exist, but it should. It feels odd reviewing a "Best of" compilation, because, well, you have to assume it's not going to suck. It doesn't suck because...see above sentence. Standouts included 'You Are Released' by Joe Hill, one of the scariest short stories I have ever read. "A Brief Moment of Rage" by Bill Davidson "My Year as a White Woman," by DJimon Hounsou Okay, that last one doesn't exist, but it should.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jason Parent

    Some of these stories blew my mind! Some truly terrific talent in here. Everyone has an opinion of what constitutes horror and what stories were the best of the year. I don't think anyone can dispute, however, the quality of the writing contained in this book. I primarily read it as a fan of the genre and some of the authors inside, but the best stories were by authors I had not read before but look forward to reading more from. Some of these stories blew my mind! Some truly terrific talent in here. Everyone has an opinion of what constitutes horror and what stories were the best of the year. I don't think anyone can dispute, however, the quality of the writing contained in this book. I primarily read it as a fan of the genre and some of the authors inside, but the best stories were by authors I had not read before but look forward to reading more from.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Clark Thomas

    This book just wasn’t as good as in previous years. Lots of stories fell flat. Some didn’t even seem like horror stories. The ones I liked were: Golden Sun—best story in the entire book—, Monkeys on the Beach, The Donner Party, You Are Released, Painted Wolves, Split Chain Stitch, and No Exit

  9. 4 out of 5

    Armand

    This is a collection of outstanding horror short stories and novellas published in 2018. I've read many anthologies that are edited by the prolific Datlow and they're usually top-notch so I went to this book with certain expectations. Suffice it to say that it exceeded these. In fact this is among the best I've had this year, and yes I've devoured a lot. The Summation focuses on exceptional horror/dark fiction and non-fictional written in 2018. It only covers literary works, so while poetry colle This is a collection of outstanding horror short stories and novellas published in 2018. I've read many anthologies that are edited by the prolific Datlow and they're usually top-notch so I went to this book with certain expectations. Suffice it to say that it exceeded these. In fact this is among the best I've had this year, and yes I've devoured a lot. The Summation focuses on exceptional horror/dark fiction and non-fictional written in 2018. It only covers literary works, so while poetry collections and chapbooks are included, TV series and movies are not. The book also has an Honorable Mentions section that lists down still-remarkable stories that didn't make the cut. I noticed that most of the entries here do try to live up to the word "horror" in all its vicious, visceral glory. This is not quiet, bloodless fare - it has meat, prime and glistening and dripping with juices, served very rare. The strongest stories are: Painted Wolves - animals are not the only predator and prey recorded in a nature show filmed in the wilds of Africa The Donner Party - where the exalted affirm their rank in society by partaking of human flesh. One of the most chilling stories I've ever read. Milkteeth - a girl receives a cursed legacy from her mother, which just might help her survive an apocalyptic landscape shaped by famine, hunger, and betrayal Haak - in a story within a story within a story, an Armada ship that managed to elude their English pursuers ends up in terra incognita, where they unwittingly court the wrath of an ancient god The Jaws of Ouroboros - a mercenary tasked with delivering raw materials from chewed-up corpses gets one shot at saving his life Red Rain - an ecstatically chaotic, blood- and flesh-spattered gorefest Haunts - old sins and secret crimes come to the fore as the crew of a doomed merchant vessel try to survive the depredations of a hungry ghost ship With hardly a weak entry, this is one truly formidable collection. I'm rating this 9/10 or 5 stars out of 5.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    I love short horror stories and although I have not read all 11 volumes of The Best Horror Of The Year, Volume 11 stands out as my favorite among the few that I have read. There are stories that are quite disturbing (Thumbsucker by Robert Shearman and The Donner Party by Dale Bailey for example) and stories that are frightening (Milkteeth by Kristi DeMeester) But my absolute favorites were those that featured people away from their homes facing strange customs such as in "White Mare" by Thana Ni I love short horror stories and although I have not read all 11 volumes of The Best Horror Of The Year, Volume 11 stands out as my favorite among the few that I have read. There are stories that are quite disturbing (Thumbsucker by Robert Shearman and The Donner Party by Dale Bailey for example) and stories that are frightening (Milkteeth by Kristi DeMeester) But my absolute favorites were those that featured people away from their homes facing strange customs such as in "White Mare" by Thana Niveau When a father and daughter claim an inheritance and get caught up in a tradition far different than the Halloween festivities they are used to at home, and Golden Sun where a family on vacation will be forever changed. There is something for every horror fan in these pages whether you are looking for thrills, scares or scifi. I received an advance copy for review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    Not my favorite volume. It was really hit or miss for me. So I either LOVED a story, or HATED a story, with a few in-between. Here are my favorites (and yes, I have a co-written story in here, but I also teach this for my Advanced Creative Writing Workshop, so I wanted to at least mention the stories I liked best): Milkteeth by Kristi DeMeester You Are Released by Joe Hill The Jaws of Ouroboros by Steve Toase Split Crain Stitch by Steve Toase The Donner Party by Dale Bailey Masks by Peter Sutton Not my favorite volume. It was really hit or miss for me. So I either LOVED a story, or HATED a story, with a few in-between. Here are my favorites (and yes, I have a co-written story in here, but I also teach this for my Advanced Creative Writing Workshop, so I wanted to at least mention the stories I liked best): Milkteeth by Kristi DeMeester You Are Released by Joe Hill The Jaws of Ouroboros by Steve Toase Split Crain Stitch by Steve Toase The Donner Party by Dale Bailey Masks by Peter Sutton Sleep by Carly Holmes A Brief Moment of Rage by Bill Davidson Golden Sun by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I REMEMBER NOTHING by Anne Billson - WTF? Incredibly creepy and I don't really understand it but I liked it just the same. 3 stars. MONKEYS ON THE BEACH by Ralph Robert Moore - This was terrible. It made no sense and wasn't scary, just weird. 2 stars. PAINTED WOLVES by Ray Cluley - I did not like this story one iota. Rape and threats of rape are not plotlines. Just lazy, misogynist writing. The second-person POV was incredibly irritating, as well. No stars for you. SHIT HAPPENS by Michael Marshall I REMEMBER NOTHING by Anne Billson - WTF? Incredibly creepy and I don't really understand it but I liked it just the same. 3 stars. MONKEYS ON THE BEACH by Ralph Robert Moore - This was terrible. It made no sense and wasn't scary, just weird. 2 stars. PAINTED WOLVES by Ray Cluley - I did not like this story one iota. Rape and threats of rape are not plotlines. Just lazy, misogynist writing. The second-person POV was incredibly irritating, as well. No stars for you. SHIT HAPPENS by Michael Marshall Smith - Best one so far. Zombies with a, uh, twist...and some humor to boot. 4 stars. YOU KNOW HOW THE STORY GOES by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - Pretty good revamp of a golden oldie. 3 stars. BACK ALONG THE OLD TRACK by Sam Hicks - Good premise, great narrative. 4 stars. MASKS by Peter Sutton - I feel like I've read this one before, but I didn't mind. 3.5 stars. THE DONNER PARTY by Dale Bailey - Truly bizarre. Truly scary. 4 stars. MILKTEETH by Kristi DeMeester - More scary kids. 4.5 stars. HAAK by John Langan - I really loved this. Like, a lot. I love creepy, new-fangled retellings of old stories, and this one is done particularly well. 5 stars. THIN COLD HANDS by Gemma Files - This is also one of the best stories in this collection. 3.5 stars. A TINY MIRROR by Eloise C. C. Shepherd - CREEPY KIDS RULE. This one was very mysterious, as well. 4 stars. I LOVE YOU MARY-GRACE by Amelia Mangan - I honestly have no idea what happened in this story, but it made me pretty uncomfortable, and not in a good way. 2 stars. THE JAWS OF OUROBOROS by Steve Toase - W. T. F. Like, really. Stonehenge is eating the world? Is that what's going on here? Very stress-inducing, at any rate. 3 stars. A BRIEF MOMENT OF RAGE by Bill Davidson - Apocalypse fiction with a new slant. Liked, but not loved. 3 stars. GOLDEN SUN by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt - Sad and scary. 4 stars. WHITE MARE by Thana Niveau - Weird and gross. Not my favorite. 2.5 stars GIRLS WITHOUT THEIR FACES ON by Laird Barron - Too much dialogue ruined this one for me. Didn't make any sense. 2 stars. THUMBSUCKER by Robert Shearman - Who the fuck thinks that men sucking their thumbs is scary? Like, how do you think that up for a horror story and then actually write it? Heck no. 1 star. YOU ARE RELEASED by Joe Hill - I read this one in Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales, I think. Not one of the better ones, either. 2 stars. RED RAIN by Adam-Troy Castro - This had a great premise but I hated the execution. Second person POV is so gross, plus it was all questions. *shudders* 2 stars. SPLIT CHAIN STITCH by Steve Toase - Well that escalated quickly. 3 stars. NO EXIT by Orrin Grey - This was very Lovecraftian and I liked it a lot. 4 stars. HAUNT by Siobhan Carroll - This was engrossing and terrifying and I loved it. I wish I knew how it came out for Swift. 5 stars. SLEEP by Carly Holmes - God kids are so creepy! 4 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A particularly good entry in this annual series that is always a treat. My fave story is probably "Thumbsucker" by Robert Shearman. "Favorite" in the sense that I find it most unsettling. A particularly good entry in this annual series that is always a treat. My fave story is probably "Thumbsucker" by Robert Shearman. "Favorite" in the sense that I find it most unsettling.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kellan

    A collection that disappointed more than I expected. Many of the stories seemed to be included not because of the merits of the work itself, but because of the merits of the author. Some were brilliant, but I'd avoid this one unless you can get it from the library. The audio version made some of the stories difficult to follow as well; read it, don't listen, if you've the option. A collection that disappointed more than I expected. Many of the stories seemed to be included not because of the merits of the work itself, but because of the merits of the author. Some were brilliant, but I'd avoid this one unless you can get it from the library. The audio version made some of the stories difficult to follow as well; read it, don't listen, if you've the option.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Suz Jay

    I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Not only does this volume contain 26* horror stories that do a great job of covering various aspects of the genre and a list of honorable mentions, a look at the year in horror and dark fiction is included. The winners of the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy awards are listed. Also included are lists of notable novels, novellas, chapbooks, magazines, webzines, anthologies, collectio I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Not only does this volume contain 26* horror stories that do a great job of covering various aspects of the genre and a list of honorable mentions, a look at the year in horror and dark fiction is included. The winners of the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and World Fantasy awards are listed. Also included are lists of notable novels, novellas, chapbooks, magazines, webzines, anthologies, collections, nonfiction, and odd and ends. This includes mixed genre and poetry magazines/webzines, anthologies, and collections and a shout out to artists. My favorite stories in the collection include the following: In “I Remember Nothing” by Anne Billson, which kicked off the collection, the narrator wakes up in a strange place and must piece together a series of grisly clues in order to escape from her living nightmare. Michael Marshall Smith adds a stinky twist to a familiar trope in his contribution. Bill Davidson’s “A Brief Moment of Rage” forces a woman to commit unthinkable acts of violence. “Golden Sun” tells of a missing girl from the points of view of her father, mother, brother, and sister. Each perspective, written by a different author, adds another slice of horror. This is a collaboration by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt. “White Mare” by Thana Niveau focuses on consequences and loss. “No Exit” by Orrin Grey includes a doomsday cult and a woman’s need for answers pertaining to her sister’s murder. Not every story resonated with me, but most did. This comprehensive collection nicely showcases the genre well. Ellen Datlow’s best of collections are a must for horror lovers who want to stay current in the genre. I plan to check out the previous volumes. Thanks to NetGalley and Night Shade Books for providing an Advance Reader Copy. *Please note: the ARC did not include two stories that were listed on the table of contents: “Split Chain Stitch” by Steve Toase and “Sleep” by Carly Holmes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    RaeDawn Drenning

    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this collection of stories. A lot of my favorite authors. Some that are included that the stories stood out for me were....Joe Hill, Kristi DeMeester, John Langan, Gemma Files, and Siobhan Carroll. Definitely a must read for horror lovers. These books make great gifts!😉

  17. 5 out of 5

    KatsCauldron R

    The thing I like about these anthologies of short stories is it get me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to a lot different authors and types of stories be it horror, fantasy, sci fi, thriller or as is shown here horror in one of the above categories. This was a good selection and there was a couple of disturbing stories one I will touch on briefly in style because that is what it is: the ending part Painted Wolves was meant to be as nightmarey ambiguous but definite as possible, of cours The thing I like about these anthologies of short stories is it get me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to a lot different authors and types of stories be it horror, fantasy, sci fi, thriller or as is shown here horror in one of the above categories. This was a good selection and there was a couple of disturbing stories one I will touch on briefly in style because that is what it is: the ending part Painted Wolves was meant to be as nightmarey ambiguous but definite as possible, of course everyone knows what happened by the wording and it elicits more terror over it. If someone is expected to appear with done animals that is it. Want to add asa prime example: good old weirdo terrorizer extreme Alfred Hitchcock, how many people have actually sworn off of showers because of him? Not once did anyone see that woman get stabbed in the film but they knew it happened. I am not going to go through detail and titles because they don't matter to someone picking up this book since they probably wouldn't know the authors. I did laugh myself sick through Shit Happens because it is so corporate comedy I would recommend this latest collection and am sure your taste is different than mine. The most disjointed fr me with the vacation one because it was never pulled together imo.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    Twenty-six short tales make up the Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven. Ghosts and vampires are if course present in a compendium of horror tales. Surprisingly, there are also stories about thumb suckers and a town where it really is raining men. Of course, with an short story anthology, there will always be some stories you like, others you love, and a few which are just not for you. However, it is hard to imagine any horror fan that dislikes stories by Laird Barron and Joe Hill. Plus, all the Twenty-six short tales make up the Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven. Ghosts and vampires are if course present in a compendium of horror tales. Surprisingly, there are also stories about thumb suckers and a town where it really is raining men. Of course, with an short story anthology, there will always be some stories you like, others you love, and a few which are just not for you. However, it is hard to imagine any horror fan that dislikes stories by Laird Barron and Joe Hill. Plus, all the stories are well-written and comprise the breadth of modern horror. Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven would make a great gift for any horror fan. 4 stars! Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kym Jones

    The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 11 is definitely an interesting read. It has everything one can want in horror from the monstrous villains to psychological mind twisting. I actually really enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to the next volume in this series. I read a previous volume which had Kelley Armstrong (I don't know what volume that was) and read a few other stories, thinking I may or may not read another volume, but after reading this book, I can honestly say I am now looking The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 11 is definitely an interesting read. It has everything one can want in horror from the monstrous villains to psychological mind twisting. I actually really enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to the next volume in this series. I read a previous volume which had Kelley Armstrong (I don't know what volume that was) and read a few other stories, thinking I may or may not read another volume, but after reading this book, I can honestly say I am now looking forward to the next next set of horror stories to come out by some truly amazing Authors.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love anthologies. There’s always something for everyone. Even if you don’t like all the stories, you’re bound to like some of them. And it gives you a taste of some author’s writings, some you may not have heard of before. My favourite stories in the collection were Haunt, Shit Happens, The Donner Party, You Are Released, and Red Rain. Highly recommend. I will definitely be checking out the other anthologies from this e I received a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love anthologies. There’s always something for everyone. Even if you don’t like all the stories, you’re bound to like some of them. And it gives you a taste of some author’s writings, some you may not have heard of before. My favourite stories in the collection were Haunt, Shit Happens, The Donner Party, You Are Released, and Red Rain. Highly recommend. I will definitely be checking out the other anthologies from this editor.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alan Baxter

    This series seems to get better every year!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Borup

    Officially an Ellen Datlow fan!

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Thirteen

    As will all The Best Horror of the Year collections, there are some amazing stories in here, although not all will suit every reader’s tastes. Some of the outstanding tales for me were: “Milkteeth” by Kristi DeMeester was a brief eerie story that tantalizingly hinted at a much larger post-apocalypse world where girls turn into monsters. “Haak” by John Langan was a brilliantly sinister reimagining of Peter Pan that seamlessly blended together myth, classic horror, and a distinctive storytelling dev As will all The Best Horror of the Year collections, there are some amazing stories in here, although not all will suit every reader’s tastes. Some of the outstanding tales for me were: “Milkteeth” by Kristi DeMeester was a brief eerie story that tantalizingly hinted at a much larger post-apocalypse world where girls turn into monsters. “Haak” by John Langan was a brilliantly sinister reimagining of Peter Pan that seamlessly blended together myth, classic horror, and a distinctive storytelling device. “Thin Cold Hands” by Gemma Files I had read before and was struck again by the powerfully disturbing portrait of a child’s encounter with a fairy that terrorizes her through adulthood. “Golden Sun”’ by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt has the four authors each taking on a family member recounting the disappearance of a daughter/sister. I loved how as the story came together we get weird, unsettling hints at a horror that they are unable to comprehend. “You are Released” by Joe Hill was perhaps the most poignant of the collection, showing a nuclear apocalypse from the vantage of various passengers on a plane. It was a wonderful allegory for today’s society and offered a glimmer of hope at the end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Warnings: Rape, Animal Cruelty/Death, Gore, Torture, Violent Racism Overall I don’t know how much I liked this anthology. There were definitely some that I enjoyed reading but there were a lot of misses. I didn’t care for the fact that there were so many stories that weren’t horror, even if they were good; if it’s a horror anthology, I expect to read horror. I liked that some of the stories were varied in that they seemed to be written by people from different countries (like “You Know How the St Warnings: Rape, Animal Cruelty/Death, Gore, Torture, Violent Racism Overall I don’t know how much I liked this anthology. There were definitely some that I enjoyed reading but there were a lot of misses. I didn’t care for the fact that there were so many stories that weren’t horror, even if they were good; if it’s a horror anthology, I expect to read horror. I liked that some of the stories were varied in that they seemed to be written by people from different countries (like “You Know How the Story Goes”). I finished the book, so it was good enough for that, and I’m glad I read the stories I did like, but the ones I didn’t like really made me regret the read. Simultaneously hit and miss. (view spoiler)[ I Remember Nothing – A man and a woman wake up in a room together, unsure of how they got there. They appear to have been abducted. Weird stuff happens, and it turns out they are some kind of creature that lives in hosts or something and every so often they wipe their memories to scare their human selves or something stupid like that. This was a horrible first story and I almost put the book down immediately. It’s stupid, shock-value garbage. Take your penis-worshipping and get away from me (there is seriously a stupid ass line about how the male creature’s jizz is a “delicacy” – no, no, and no). Absolute garbage. Monkeys on the Beach – A rich white family goes on vacation. Weird stuff happens. There’s a weird dynamic with the skeevy dad trying to win his kids over to his new wife, but then the new wife is very suddenly and jarringly given a personality right at the very end of the story, and is immediately killed off. Most of the story is just the dad being a douche and it seems like stepmom is controlling, but then it turns out she’s just trying her best and she literally dies for one of the kids. I didn’t like this one, and I definitely don’t consider it horror, but it was well written. Painted Wolves – A tiny crew of four run around Africa trying to film a nature documentary. They’re all male, except the lady they recruited to be the face, who was on a reality tv show previously and wants to be an actress. There’s a running theme of the pack of dogs destroying their prey, and I honestly thought it was going to be more literal. But no, they just rape her. Yup. No revenge, no sensitivity, this is just a story about a woman who gets gang-raped from the point of view of one of her rapists. Wait, you want it to be more skeevy? Never fear! The narrator has the audacity to cry about how there was “nothing he could have done.” He “had” to participate! I hate this story and I hate whoever decided to include it in this anthology. Shit Happens – A guy goes on a business cruise just as a pandemic hits the US; a fog gives people intense diarrhea before turning them into zombies. The guy and his coworker have to get off the cruise ship and escape before they are killed by the quickly-multiplying zombies. I liked this one, actually. It was gross but it was the first one in the anthology I actually enjoyed reading. The scene in the bathroom was pretty funny. You Know How the Story Goes – Revolves around an urban legend where a “tall lady” shows up in people’s cars when they go through tunnels and causes them to crash. A fairly enjoyable read. Back Along the Old Track – A man stays in a rural house for a vacation, but the house is owned by an eccentric family who just had a death in the family. Weird stuff starts happening around the house, and it turns out that members of the family “don’t die right,” so the family has been wrangling the guy’s corpse each night. It was an okay story, though I was mostly concerned about what happened to the cat, haha. Masks – A group of people are stuck somewhere and can’t leave because they have the ocean on one side and a desert on the other. They survive by randomly selecting someone to eat every so often. The story takes place during one such time, but their ritual “hunt” is interrupted when some more people are washed up on shore – and the target of the hunt changes. This was okay, but I thought it was kind of boring. The main character was particularly uninteresting, so I was turned off from the beginning. The Donner Party – Kind of a British Victorian nobility politics story, but with eating people. A woman kisses the butt of a popular noblewoman to get good standing, and in the background there’s this tradition of nobility eating people at a special dinner every year. I like the peasants rebelling in the background. I wasn’t sure about the end, but I feel strongly that the main character gave her daughter to the noblewoman to be eaten. It’s not super clear, but there were hints like the blue ribbon and the never-explained contents of the box. I liked this one. Milkteeth – My biggest complaint with this one is that I didn’t understand what was happening. I think it’s a post-apocalyptic world where people have resorted to eating each other, and the main character and her dad eventually leave their house and join up with another guy and his daughter. The guys want to eat their daughters but they do a “hunt” so if the girls outrun them they won’t eat them. But then there was also hinting that the daughters were like, non-human? Like, the daughter ate her mother and it was treated as like this inevitable thing? But maybe that was just because she was young and hungry? I am not sure. I wish it had been more clear, because I liked what was there. Haak – A Peter Pan retelling, but in the most pretentious way you can possibly imagine. It’s a hoity-toity college professor who makes this huge show out of telling a story that Joseph Conrad supposedly told, where a boat employee takes him through a secret portal to the realm of the god Pan, who has taken the form of the child. The boy’s story is basically a retelling of Peter Pan, where “hook” is a Spanish ship captain that stumbled into the realm and ended up getting Pan’s ire when he kills the giant crocodile living nearby. Pan kills them all off, then when he gets to the captain has his skin peeled off. It’s implied at the very end that the college professor is Pan, trying to redeem himself for his brutality against the captain by living as a human or whatever. The retelling itself was pretty good, but the two frame stories were unbelievably pretentious. Thin Cold Hands – A woman gives birth to a child who she thinks is a fairy, because she has a memory of meeting a fairy when she was a child and it crawled inside her through her mouth. It also killed a guy who tried to rape her. This story had potential, but was too vague. I didn’t understand if she was actually raped, and the daughter was the product of that, because what actually happens is the rape is stopped but then she’s pregnant? I didn’t like that. Just say what you want to say. I think it could be powerful as a metaphor about post partum with a child born from rape, or even just post partum in general. But taken literally, as a fairy, is pretty chilling. So yeah, great potential, but was too vague—like the author didn’t want to actually commit. A Tiny Mirror – I don’t remember this one very well. Something to do with a little boy who talks to some imaginary person, and then his aunt ends up dead or something. Obviously it didn’t leave a big impression. I remember being slightly confused. I Love You Mary-Grace—This was another confusing story. A young policeman in a small town goes along with his older partner, who does corrupt things. The older guy takes money from a local woman for some reason, but it’s not clear why. Like, what makes this woman a target for him and keeps her isolated from the rest of the town? And then the young guy turns into a dog or something? Was that literal or metaphorical? It was great that he stands up to the older guy but it was another situation where I was just frustrated by the ambiguity. The Jaws of Ouroboros – In a post-apocalyptic world, holes with revolving stones have opened up randomly across the world and they suck people in. The residue that is left from their bones/bodies is used as a drug, and the main character of the story is a guy who collects this stuff and sells it to drug dealers. The premise was intriguing, but I could not for the life of me visualize what these hole things were supposed to be or what the grinding stones were. I also don’t understand why the drug dealer wanted to kill the main character at the end – like, he got everything he wanted and the guy was just going to fuck off forever, so why kill him? I don’t know if I liked this story or not, but the idea was definitely original. A Brief Moment of Rage—Across the world, every so often there is a “moment of rage” where people are suddenly so overcome with rage that they kill anyone near them during the period of rage. A woman kills her family, eventually kills her only living son, and then kind of wanders. She takes up living with a man who works with her to try to ensure they are isolated when the moments come, but it turns out they aren’t as predictable as they thought so she ends up killing him. In the end, she is killed by a random guy; she goes to kill him when the rage comes, but he had already been planning to kill her even before then. Of course a sociopath would be the only type to survive in a world like that. Interesting idea, but man was it bleak. In my opinion it was far more science fiction than horror. Golden Sun – A family goes on vacation and the youngest daughter disappears. We get perspectives from the parents and brother and sister on what happened the last day and what they think happened. It’s hinted that it’s supernatural, kind of like a falling into another dimension kind of thing, but could also just be a metaphor for a standard pedophile kidnapping. I liked that we got more information as we went down the line of characters. I like the supernatural element and the idea that the girl drank the soda from another world and faded out of this one. Very haunting. White Mare – A girl and her dad stay for a month at their relative’s farm in Europe. The girl falls in love with the horse her relative had owned, but can’t make friends with the local kids because they’re super rude and kind of sociopathic. For Halloween, the village where the farm is has a weird custom, but no one bothers to tell the girl or her dad, so because they don’t welcome the weirdos in they kill the girl’s horse. But then some kind of spirit gets revenge on the kids who killed the horse, or something. This was mostly just sad though. Girls Without Their Faces On – A woman goes to a party with her boyfriend, who starts saying weird stuff and freaks her out. She follows her instincts and leaves the car so he can’t drive her home, and wanders back to the party. At the party, time is frozen and weird stuff starts happening. I didn’t like this one at all. I felt like it was trying to be edgy and deep but it didn’t make any sense at all; I couldn’t follow what was supposed to be happening. I think it’s the apocalypse? I don’t know, it was stupid. Thumbsucker – I think this takes place in an alternate universe, but I’m not sure. Some people suck their thumbs and it’s seen as a taboo. A man’s elderly father is into this in a sexual way and invites his son to go to a thumb-sucking sex party. Super weird, was not into it. This is another of the stories in this book that are not horror at all. It was weird and I didn’t like it. You Are Released – The one by Joe Hill. And oddly, one of the ones that was not horror. It was good, I liked the format—different points of view of the same situation. It’s told from the perspective of various passengers on a plane while world war breaks out. I thought the situation with the racist and the liberal guy becoming friendly was stupid. Red Rain – Bodies start falling from the sky endlessly. A brief scene of the ensuing chaos. Told in a weird way: entirely in questions and in second person. I did not like the form. I can appreciate wanting to try something new but I think it fell flat. The concept, however, was super interesting. I did have an issue, though: whose bodies are falling from the sky? Where are they coming from? Did they just like teleport up there? The concept was still pretty good, though. Split Chain Stitch- A woman is investigating a group of elderly women who have a kind of knitting club, and are murdering people. She goes undercover but gets caught and gets knit into a tree and fed to sheep. Pretty brutal. I liked it, though all the knitting references went over my head. No Exit—A woman investigates the crime scene where her sister was murdered in a massacre many years previously. It was supposed to have been a cult massacre, but investigators found that the cultists died before the victims. I think what was supposed to be the thing here was they successfully summoned some kind of creature, which showed up and killed everyone. I liked this one, it was interesting both as a crime mystery and a summoned-creature story. Haunt – Takes place in the time period when the slave trade was happening. A regular passenger/trade ship gets a leak and everyone slowly dies, but in the background there is the subject of the slave trade; many of the ship’s crew previously worked on the ships that transported slaves. Another male-centric story, but weirdly I liked this one. I am not sure what the moral of the story was supposed to be, but I liked that the subject matter touched on things I haven’t read about before. Not really a horror story, but it is absolutely horrific. Sleep – A mother cares for her son, who has an unspecified power that involves killing things when they sleep. She gives him sleeping pills so he’ll sleep, so that she can sleep without him killing her. In the end, she gives him enough pills to kill him so that she doesn’t have to deal with it anymore. I know this could easily be a metaphor for mothers who have children with disorders/disabilities, but I have recently been thinking a lot about mothers with sons, specifically, and what the extent of their responsibility to them is. Does becoming a mother make a woman have to sustain any and all torment simply because she is a mother? Where is the line? This story makes me think about those questions. In this story, in a literal sense, I do not blame the mother at all. (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zeke Gonzalez

    Once again, Ellen Datlow has pulled together a fantastic myriad of horror tales, this time pulling from horror and dark fiction released in 2018. While the overall quality of these stories isn’t quite to the caliber of Volume Ten in my opinion, I greatly enjoyed many of them. I relished the opportunity to read so many different types of short story and so many authors I was previously unaware of. Individual mini-reviews of the short stories can be found in my reading progress, and my particular Once again, Ellen Datlow has pulled together a fantastic myriad of horror tales, this time pulling from horror and dark fiction released in 2018. While the overall quality of these stories isn’t quite to the caliber of Volume Ten in my opinion, I greatly enjoyed many of them. I relished the opportunity to read so many different types of short story and so many authors I was previously unaware of. Individual mini-reviews of the short stories can be found in my reading progress, and my particular favorites are: Monkeys on the Beach by Ralph Robert Moore, You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Haak by John Langan, Thin Cold Hands by Gemma Files, A Tiny Mirror by Eloise C.C. Shepherd, I Love You Mary-Grace by Amelia Mangan, Golden Sun by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Waters, and Michael Wehunt, No Exit by Orrin Grey, and Sleep by Carly Holmes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Greg Chatham

    Setting aside the schlockier stories that frontload this volume, this is a solid collection of unsettling fiction. More spooky than outright horrifying, the most notable inclusions are closer to weird fiction and dark fantasy, while not relying too heavily on the authors you'd expect to headline such an anthology. (Although John Langan, Laird Barron, and Gemma Files do make an appearances.) There's a genuine flow to the arrangement of stories as well, moving from juvenilia and twist endings to cl Setting aside the schlockier stories that frontload this volume, this is a solid collection of unsettling fiction. More spooky than outright horrifying, the most notable inclusions are closer to weird fiction and dark fantasy, while not relying too heavily on the authors you'd expect to headline such an anthology. (Although John Langan, Laird Barron, and Gemma Files do make an appearances.) There's a genuine flow to the arrangement of stories as well, moving from juvenilia and twist endings to classed-up folk horror and creepypasta, shifting into literary weird fiction and experimental narratives, and wrapping up with exquisitely crafted dark fantasy. This makes it a surprisingly satisfying full read for an anthology with such a non-descript title, even if, like me, you have no patience for "shocking" sexual violence, fiction set within the framework of reality TV shows, experimental points of view, or Joe Hill's flights of whimsy. Notable weird stories included: "The Jaws Of Ouroboros" by Steve Toase, "Thumbsucker" by Robert Shearman Notable dark fantasy stories included: "The Donner Party" by Dale Bailey, "Haunt" by Siobhan Carroll, "Sleep" by Carly Holmes

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Briggs

    Decade No. 2 begins for Queen Editor Ellen Datlow's at-times contentious but always worthwhile selection of the best writing in horror and its genre relations. Bloody Mary mornings don't get much more dire than the wakeup in Anne Billson's "I Remember Nothing." Two strangers regain consciousness naked, hungover, hurting and encrusted in something much worse than tabasco and tomato juice in an unfamiliar room dotted with rhyming Post-it notes. Lunch is served under the bed - raw, in pieces and not Decade No. 2 begins for Queen Editor Ellen Datlow's at-times contentious but always worthwhile selection of the best writing in horror and its genre relations. Bloody Mary mornings don't get much more dire than the wakeup in Anne Billson's "I Remember Nothing." Two strangers regain consciousness naked, hungover, hurting and encrusted in something much worse than tabasco and tomato juice in an unfamiliar room dotted with rhyming Post-it notes. Lunch is served under the bed - raw, in pieces and not quite dead. Datlow picked a fun one to start this volume. With generous British brown sauce. And what's more fun than monkeys? In Ralph Robert Moore's "Monkeys on the Beach," a hungry little boy follows a family on holiday in the Caribbean. You feed 'em, and they're yours. Add a martinet sheriff, falling satellites and, yes, grabby monkeys, and you have the worst vacation ever. I expect this will be one of the more divisive stories in the book. It's an oddball. But it shares a certain common cruel wavelength, and it made me laugh several times. Michael Marshall Smith should be ashamed of himself, and Datlow should be ashamed for encouraging him. But again, I laughed, so I suppose I must bear some of that shame as well. Dale Bailey provides etiquette tips for aristocratic cannibals in "The Donner Party." There seems to be a minor theme of culinary creeps (or runs in Smith's case) in several of the stories in this volume. Like a meal in a midscale chain restaurant, Bailey's story is well-done but a bit uninspired, thoroughly predictable from the first few pages. Bailey's stories are always good but generally leave an aftertaste of disappointment because he so rarely pushes them to be much more. But I keep hoping. And I keep reading. One of these days, he's going to surprise me with something way off the usual menu. Joseph Conrad wrote some of my favorite books. But I didn't fully appreciate him until long after college when I was free to explore the work without the burden of too many other homework assignments (and without the distraction of parties and coeds). Perhaps if I'd been enrolled in a class like the one in John Langan's "Haak," I'd have been more engaged. Sartorially splendid in scarlet, Professor Haringa of Quinsigamond Academy (a nod to Jack O'Connell, Mr. Langan?) delivers a lecture on Conrad guaranteed to prevent any student from dozing off, regardless of how late the previous night's carouse/cram session dragged on. A long, strange trip. Pagan gods and demigods. A killer croc. Multiple literary references. It seems a shame to condense so much great stuff into a planetarium lecture. I wish Langan had taken a year or two to develop all this into a thick, juicy novel. In Gemma Files' "Thin Cold Hands," a daughter resists her mother's iron-willed attempts to nudge her out of the nest. A common drama perhaps, but the wings on this baby bird are more likely pixie-shimmering gossamer than feathered. It's an interesting take on females, family and faerie. "And best of all, there was Halloween," Thana Niveau writes in "White Mare." Agreed 100 percent. But Niveau's Halloween story is very YA, right down to a young girl's dream-come-true equine soulmate. It's not a bad example of the genre. I might love it if I were 13 and female. But it's out of place amid all the dismemberments, cannibalism and murderous rage pandemics in the stories that preceded it. As if suddenly realizing her target audience, Niveau unconvincingly heaps on a last-minute helping of graphic violence with a little dollop of sex and profanity, giving her story a disjointed feel. It's "Goosebumps" with a "Tales from the Crypt" climax. "No way to keep up with the sheer volume of insanity this state produces," Laird Barron writes of his home, Alaska. As a Texan, I could argue, but I'm too pleased by Barron's return to these pages to quibble. After a sojourn in series crime fiction, he's back to share a little of his homegrown weirdness in "Girls Without Their Faces On." On a darkened street, in a car post-party, doubts creep up on a woman who suspects she doesn't really know her lover. "How could a woman ever know what squirmed in the brains of men?" She asks a probing question or two, and by way of reply, she gets a preview of global extinction, starting in, oh, the space of her next few breaths. Joe Hill, who's not related to anyone famous so far as I know, inflicts terror in the skies on a planeload of stereotypes, straw men and paper characters. The pilot announces to his passengers there's been a possible nuclear conflagration on Guam. And it's not a Southwest flight, so you know he's not kidding. "You Are Released" is more than a little ridiculous and reads like the result of learning dialog from certain brand-name bestsellers and taking the hysterics on CNN seriously. It usually takes a generation for hindsight to kick in and make the fears of the past look naive and quaint. Hill's managed to make himself look foolish in a matter of months. I haven't seen in-flight entertainment this bad since "The Langoliers." If you've ever made a gritty-eyed, dead-of-night stop at an interstate rest area, you probably agree that there's a lot of horror potential there that's gone unexploited beyond Dennis Etchison's seminal "It Only Comes Out at Night." Orrin Grey does his part to add to that legacy in "No Exit." Grey's rest stop is a "thin place," the site of a cult mass murder/suicide(?) The sister of one of the victims is drawn to return and finds a place that's more creature conduit than roadside convenience. We lost Mr. Etchison this year, and whether intentional or not, "No Exit" works as a nice (but nasty) homage. I come here for the classics. Every year, I faithfully buy my copy of each new volume of “Best Horror” because Datlow often finds at least one classic or should-be classic, a candidate for the canon, a shuddery experience worth multiple revisits. Unfortunately, the classics are in short supply in Volume 11. However, the overall quality of the fiction and the professionalism of its execution are at the highest level this series has reached. Thankfully, the vampires and Lovecraftian beasties got to take some well-earned time off. Otherwise, Datlow extended her reach wide to represent the myriad midnight shades of the genre: Splattery. Subtle. Psychological. Supernatural. Intimate. Cosmic. Scatological. Humorous. Weird. Maybe even some of that Bizarro stuff, I’ve never been quite sure what that is. I can’t say I liked every story, but except for Hill’s hamfisted cautionary tale, I didn’t dislike any of them. And the typos and grammatical gaffes that tortured this series for 10 years are largely gone. It took me half the book before I found an error worth noting, and the second half didn’t give me much to squawk about either. One star of this rating is directly due and dedicated to the uncredited and likely underappreciated copy editor. Whether the essential work was done at Night Shade, the original publication venues or by Datlow herself, that person attacked this text like Father Merrin expelling evil spirits. And it shows. OK, maybe we didn’t reach sublime this year, but pretty damn good is pretty damn good. Everybody involved helped make my Halloween season just a little bit darker.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

    Ellen Datlow has been at the forefront of selecting the finest short stories in horror for decades now and her name alone sells these Best Horror books. You know that only quality short stories are going to be included in the volume, regardless of if the author is a big-ticket writer like Joe Hill, Stephen King or a relative newbie in the industry. The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven contains 26 top-notch pieces of speculative fiction and vivid horror that will keep you awake at night. As u Ellen Datlow has been at the forefront of selecting the finest short stories in horror for decades now and her name alone sells these Best Horror books. You know that only quality short stories are going to be included in the volume, regardless of if the author is a big-ticket writer like Joe Hill, Stephen King or a relative newbie in the industry. The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven contains 26 top-notch pieces of speculative fiction and vivid horror that will keep you awake at night. As usual with Datlow’s collections, there is mention of other author’s stories that just didn’t make the cut but are worth the read. Which is great if you finish the book and are left wanting more because of the quality of the writing. There are quick reads starting at a short 1,700 words to decent novelettes at 10,300 words. An interesting piece was written by four authors, each with a different character’s perspective. The writers hail from all across the world with ten stories by women and sixteen by men. Half of the authors have never appeared in a Datlow collection before, so it’s great to see fresh faces amongst those we already know. Themes range from two strangers waking up in an unfamiliar room, naked and covered with blood with shredded clothes and body parts around the room, to the unsettling story of everyone in the world suffering from uncontrollable rage at the same time. A Post-apocalyptic story about a winter covered world where survival and cannibalism are one and the same. Folk horror, cosmic horror, postapocalyptic horror, cannibalism, urban legends and creature horror are some of the themes covered in these twenty-six tales. If you have never read short stories before then I would definitely recommend this collection to whet your appetite. 5 out of 5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Towzey

    Favorites: Girls Without Their Faces On Golden Sun Back Along the Old Track Haunt Thin Cold Hands White Mare No Exit

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an ARC of this book thanks to Net Galley and publisher Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review. An anthology calling itself 'The Best Horror of the Year' certainly has a lot to live up to. How did it fare? Total number of stories: 22 (my Kindle ARC missed two for some reason) Great stories: 7 Good/Okay stories: 4 I Remember Nothing by Anne Billson-A woman wakes up next to a strange man in a creepy room and neither of them remember what has happened. This started well and did s I received an ARC of this book thanks to Net Galley and publisher Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review. An anthology calling itself 'The Best Horror of the Year' certainly has a lot to live up to. How did it fare? Total number of stories: 22 (my Kindle ARC missed two for some reason) Great stories: 7 Good/Okay stories: 4 I Remember Nothing by Anne Billson-A woman wakes up next to a strange man in a creepy room and neither of them remember what has happened. This started well and did some cool stuff but it quickly went downhill. It's not a bad concept for a story but as is my usual complaint with horror short stories, it could have done what it did a lot simpler and it would have been stronger for it. Monkeys on the Beach by Ralph Robert Moore-A family goes on holiday and terrible things happen. I don't get the point of this story? The events didn't seem linked to me and it feels like I missed something important. Very lackluster. Painted Wolves by Ray Cluley-A crew of people are filming a nature documentary about painted dogs. This was great right until the very last section when it became weirdly vague. I'm pretty sure I know what happened and I liked it but it was executed so well until that point that it left a bad taste. Shit Happens by Michael Marshall Smith-I have read and reviewed this story previously so here is my original review: This story has the weirdest premise and it shouldn't work but it does? While on a business trip taking place on a cruise ship, a mysterious affliction strikes people who are close to the sea. This is one of those short stories I could see being expanded into a whole book and it would make a great comedy horror one. It worked extremely well as a short story in my eyes but I did kinda want more from the world and the characters. One of the strongest in the (original) anthology. You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt-SO GOOD. This story gripped me right from the start and is a perfect example of a simple concept done well. A man recounts of a time when he hitchhiked and something terrifying happened to him. It builds tension fantastically and holds it from start to finish. One of my favourites. Masks by Peter Sutton-This was so short and tbh, I don't really know what it was about. It didn't hold my attention very well. The Donner Party by Dale Bailey-Another brilliant one. Set in the past in a society where the rich dine upon the poor at annual feasts, our main character is invited to such a feast but then problems arise. This one doesn't contain many surprises but it doesn't need them. The horror is woven into the world of the story so well that you feel dread and disgust without as opposed to it having punchy moments. Definitely one of the best. Milkteeth by Kristi DeMeester-This one was so short that it was over before I had the chance to really process what it was about. There's something about a dead mother and teeth and hunting but I wasn't a huge fan. Haak by John Langan-A teacher tells his class a historical story that is linked to Peter Pan I think? I switched off really early in this due to the historical element so I can't really say much more about it sadly. Thin Cold Hands by Gemma Files-A pretty creepy story about a changeling child. The writing wasn't the best for this but it had a strong concept and was genuinely quite disturbing. A Tiny Mirror by Eloise by C. C. Shepherd-This is about a woman telling a man a creepy story from her childhood whilst they're on a plane together. It was enjoyable but incredibly short and over way too soon. Pretty average on the whole. I Love You Mary-Grace by Amelia Mangan-This story came from a horror anthology entirely about dogs and you can definitely tell! It's very weird and about a guy who idolises a girl, which is all I can pretty much say about it. Not for me unfortunately. The Jaws of Ouroboros by Steve Toase-I think this is set in the future and two people are collecting a resource from giant mouths which have appeared around the world. Another incredibly weird one and this was also hard to follow. I got the jist but it could have been done a lot better. A Brief Moment of Rage by Bill Davidson-People are afflicted with a condition that makes them incredibly violent for short periods of time at random. It was fine. Golden Sun by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, & Michael Wehunt-So this story started off really well. It's about a family on holiday and their daughter keeps singing a specific song and then a weird event happens. This event is told from four characters' perspectives and each author writes one segment of it. The problem is that the segments weren't different enough in my opinion. The only one which adds any new details after the first one is the final one, so it becomes a repetitive reading experience. I understand what they were trying to do here and they almost accomplished it but that stopped this story being great. White Mare by Thana Niveau-An American family visit England around Halloween and discover a creepy local tradition. This was so good! It was really well-written and pretty creepy. I didn't 100% understand the ending but the rest of it was strong enough for me not to care. Maybe my absolute favourite? Girls Without Their Faces On by Laird Barron-A girl has been dating this guy and at a party, she realises she doesn't really know him. Creepy stuff follows. This one was almost really great but it fell short at a few hurdles. The guy 'J' became weird in a way which was hard to follow and the ending suffered from that stock confusion. There were some strong moments in this, it just wasn't consistent. Thumbsucker by Robert Shearman-I did not like this story one bit. It's about a world where thumbsucking is stigmatised and the main character's dad becomes a thumbsucker. It was really weird and uncomfortable to read. I kept waiting for a line at the end to explain the metaphor but it never came, so the whole thing fell a bit flat. You Are Released by Joe Hill-A very powerful story about a plane that runs into trouble, framed by swapping the focus to a different passenger every few paragraphs or so. This wasn't really horror in my opinion but I am so so glad I read it. It has a lot of really thought-provoking moments and was just excellently done. Red Rain by Adam-Troy Castro-A story about a horrific incident that starts with a man jumping from a roof, uniquely told entirely in questions posed to the reader. I did really like this one on the whole but the gimmick wore a bit thin near the middle. It's a nice idea but it became incredibly repetitive and moreso than I felt it needed to be. The story itself was so strong though. No Exit by Orrin Grey-A woman tells the story of her sister who was involved in an accident. This was a good story but it felt like it almost could have been a great one from the concept and it just fell a bit short. Haunt by Siobhan Carroll-I have read and reviewed this story previously so here is my original review: I possibly didn't give this story the chance it deserved because I was sort of done with the anthology by the time I reached it. It has the strong general premise of a ghost ship relating to slaves being drowned but the execution just wasn't there. It had some good moments but overall it wasn't enough to keep my attention or leave a lasting impact. Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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