20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
James David Reyome
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the fourth edition of what has become something of an annual tradition in our house. Of course we always give each other books at Christmas, as if we NEEDED any more books in the house (of course we do.) But somehow Shell always manages to surprise me in one way or another, and a couple of years back it was with a volume of this series. I liked it so much I've been asking for it ever since, and though it actually appears closer to my birthday in August, I always wait till Christmas to enjoy it.
From my point of view at least, the 2013 collection is is probably the best of the four volumes so far. The selection of the stories is top-notch and though you want to rush through each story, they're all works to savor. There is, though, one problem, and one which has been a consistent glitch with each of the editions. More on that anon.
First the high points, and there are many. I really can't fault any of editor Paula Guran's selections. It all starts with Helen Marshall's quietly eerie "No Ghosts in London". Now, the topic matter is Dark Fantasy and Horror, and that leaves a lot of open ground, and from that excellent start we get Caitlin Kiernan's "Fake Plastic Trees", which is one of those tales of science gone awry that sticks with you long afterward. Awesomeness.
It just keeps getting better from there and unless I want to cover every story in the book, it's best perhaps to keep it brief and hit the high points. "Iphigenia in Aulis" is a zombie story...kind of, with a 'teacher' in a 'school' and her favorite 'child' as the key characters. Terrific, with an ending Hitchcock could have used very effectively. I can see this one expanded into a film. Neil Gaiman's entry is of the Man who forgot Ray Bradbury, not coincidentally also the title, and it gibes nicely with my own rediscovery of the master. Another awesome (and relatively compact) work. "The Education of a Witch" is just terrific, with another great ending...Ellen Klages will be a name for me to remember.
Ditto Jim Butcher, who is pretty big these days. He somehow manages to combine a hard boiled detective, a Sasquatch, and a hot vampire on the Oklahoma campus and makes it all work. And not one but two tales of robots (of a sort) are added, with Ken Liu's "Good Hunting" and Maria Dahvana Headley's "Game". The titles mesh well, and the stories are both superb.
If there are high points, I have to give due credit to Terry Dowling, whose "Nightside Eye" is a revelation. Astonishing! And then there is the weirdly wonderful "Armless Maidens of the American West", perhaps the best title in the book, with an oddly touching tale to match. And then there are the two names I have been looking for lately, Joe Lansdale and Priya Sharma. Lansdale gives us an amazingly creepy and claustrophobic story of what happens when the train stops in the middle of nowhere and you get out...and it definitely isn't Willoughby ("Twilight Zone" fans will understand.) Sharma, who somehow manages to bring humor and unearthly emotion to everything I've read by her, does it again with "Pearls", and if tears could turn to pearls, I'd be able to string a nice necklace with them. Beautiful, beautiful.
Laird Barron brings it all to a close with his "Hand of Glory", the story of a dark man wrapped up in something much darker than he imagines. A great close to a really great book.
And now, the complaint. Again.
Why? Why does this happen? To all at Prime Books: It's 2014, gang. Well, okay, it was 2013 when you published this tome. So why? Why are there SO MANY TYPOGRAPHIC ERRORS? WHY? It makes no sense. Do you not hire copy editors? I really hate to use a cliche like this, but it's true: It's not rocket science, folks. There is simply no excuse why a collection this wonderful should contain so damned many missed paragraphs, periods, closed quotes, etc. So many. It's been a problem in these books the past three years, but this year (after a year it seemed to have gotten better) it is just jarring. Please, I beg you, give these works the love they deserve. This would have easily been a five star review if even half the typos would've been fixed.
Still. If you can look past the glitches--and you should--this is certainly worthy of your time. Highly recommended.