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The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 Edition [Paperback]

Naomi Novik

RRP: 14.99
Price: 14.37 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 Jun 2012 Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror
Take a journey into darkness. Visit places where one might expect to find the dark - in a house where love was shared and lost, a milky-white pool in an Australian cave, the trenches of World War I, the deep woods. You would not be surprised to find the dark in a cheap apartment on the wrong side of town, down mean streets, under a gallows-tree, along dank passageways, trapped underground, in the near future, or among the mysteries of old New Orleans. Dunes, lakes, isolated cabins, old books, and Old West saloons - well, the darkness might easily be there. But we've also found locales you thought were safe from shadows - a rib joint with good blues playing, inside an old wardrobe, on a baseball diamond, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel... Travel into the best dark fantasy and horror from 2011 with more than five-hundred pages of tales from some of today's best-known writers of the fantastique as well as new talents - stories that will take you to a diverse assortment of dark places.

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific 17 Dec 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dark fiction editrix supreme Paula Guran has put together another huge, mostly excellent selection this year, with enough variety to please most tastes. Here you'll find everything from cowboys vs. vampires, to pitch-dark fairy-tale revisions, to zombie baseball. There's also a visit to Marie Laveau, a "Maltese Unicorn," a non-zombie apocalypse (for a change), a sand dune that predicts death, and a wardrobe that contains the whole sea.

She's also managed to draw some very well-established names -- like Stephen King, Charles de Lint, Caitlin Kiernan and Joan Aiken -- to sit side-by-side with relatively new talents. Some of my favorites include:

A book-lover's nightmare set in a dystopian near-future San Francisco, Glen Hirshberg's "After-Words" introduces the crazed leader of a book-cult whose end-time plans rely on remarkably old-fashioned methods. Hirshberg, a fellow SF denizen, always captures the tiniest nuances of the city, right down to the smells, night sounds, and neighborhood weather (yes, in SF we have different weather in different neighborhoods). Since the world in this story is quite grim, the verisimilitude adds an extra dose of shiver for me.

Joe R. Lansdale's "The Bleeding Shadow" has a Lovecraft-on-the-bayou vibe. Callow bluesman Tootie makes an unwise trade at Cross Roads Records: in exchange for a drop of his blood, he gets a platter full of unearthly music that, when he plays it, bequeaths him unearthly musical skills. Unfortunately, it also opens a doorway for those pesky things that should not be. (And if you like this story, I'd highly recommend picking up John Horner Jacobs' awesome novel Southern Gods.)

Yoon Ha Lee's "Conservation of Shadows" re-visions the ancient myth of Innana's journey to the Underworld as a MMORPG dungeon-like challenge, complete with mazes and inventory slots. I'd never read Lee's work before, but the juxtaposition of an eons-old tale with a futuristic gamescape makes for a memorable story, and Lee's language is beautiful and poetic.

"The Lake" by (the mellifluously-named) Tannarive Due, delivers a sneaky yet genteel brutality with the story of Abbie LaFleur, a Bostonian transplant to the deep south . . . where she really takes to her new environment. And Laura Anne Gilman's "Crossroads" puts a quick and clever new spin on the standard deal with the devil.

I could go through the whole book like this. I am such a sucker for the short form, and Guran's choices are almost always top-notch: out of 33 stories, only one or two are a little meh, and that's probably just down to personal taste. (In fact, I'm not even gushing about other favorites -- Maureen McHugh's emotionally savage "After the Apocalypse," Elizabeth Hand's eerie "Near Zennor," and Tim Powers' clever and creepy "A Journey of Two Paces" -- because I have or plan to write about them in separate reviews of their authors' own collections.)

Verdict: if you like horror, and you like short stories, put this 2012 collection on your holiday wish list -- it's a real treat.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Companion to Other 'Best of" Yearly Collections 18 Sep 2012
By Anastasia McPherson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I always buy Dozois's yearly collection of the best Science Fiction and this year I bought two other collections of Science Fiction and Fantasy, both from Prime Publishing and I am thrilled that I did. This collection of Dark Fantasy and Horror fills the region of the dark fantastic in a way that mainstream horror and fantasy doesn't.

No collection scores nothing but homeruns, but this collection came pretty close with ninety percent of the stories grabbing the reader's attention and using old themes in new ways. I was especially thrilled to see a story by the deceased Joan Aiken, a writer who deserves to be much better remembered. Hopefully this story will prompt readers to explore her other works. Superstars of the genre, such as King, Powers and Hand are also represented as well as lesser known writers. Like all short story collections, readers come away, not only with a good story but with the knowledge to explore new works and authors.

The overall introduction to the book is nice, but Dozois always introduces each story with a biography and bibliography of the author and a summation of what the story is about, here the teaser is a pull quote from the story which is not especially enlightening, but that is the only complaint I have about this otherwise marvelous collection. A highly recommended specialty menu in the literature of the fantastic.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed collection 1 Jun 2013
By Lela Kay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this as a gift for my boyfriend who is a fantasy/horror fan. He and I are both reading it. It's a good mix of fiction, some better than others. You sometimes wonder why certain stories were selected, others are truly excellent.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Mix 22 Aug 2013
By Reinhold Schlieper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some stories are interesting and moving; others are a bit dragging. I think one could have done a better job selecting the stories.
4.0 out of 5 stars This one belongs on your Christmas list! 15 Mar 2013
By James David Reyome - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I don't mind admitting that I really dig anthologies, and I've been a genre fan for a long, long time. From the days of the DAW "Year's Best" collections--I really, really miss Karl Edward Wagner--I would look forward to the day the paperback would hit the stores and see what gruesome picture was on the cover that year. Some of them were truly disturbing, as much as some of the stories inside.

Times change, tastes change. And, hard as it is to believe, it's been almost twenty years since the DAW titles ceased with Wagner's tragic, way-too-soon demise. I have them all, I think, going back to 71, but there's been a variety of incarnations under a number of different titles, enough that it's hard to keep up with them all. Stephen Jones' "Mammoth Book" series is excellent of course, but there's always room for more, isn't there?

Well, of course there is. And I have been enjoying the "Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror" collections since my beloved gifted me the 2011 edition for Christmas a year ago. It was a bit rough around the edges, but good enough that I asked for the 2012 volume this year, along with the premier 2010 edition that I'd missed. They're unusual tomes in that they're not strictly horror anthologies, which is okay in that they do not claim to be thus. Now, I've read the complaints: "these stories weren't scary"...listen, take my advice and ignore that sort of thing. Horror is all about perspective, and besides, Dark Fantasy comes first in the title, and that's what you get, Dark Fantasy. That means "creepy" to me, and sometimes "creepy" isn't purely scary, it's more that prickle at the back of your spine, the faint apprehension that sticks with you long after you've put the book back on the shelf. I don't know if it's that I'm mellowing with the years--I certainly don't think so--but I appreciate the creep-out more than the gross-out anymore.

So. Dark Fantasy and Horror is what it is, with Paula Guran again making the selections. It's bookended wonderfully by Lisa Tuttle's creepfest of an eerie tale of a couple searching for a lost house and who end up wishing they hadn't found it, and Charles de Lint's stupendous novella which ultimately is all about choices. Love it, love it, love them both. In fact, I halfway wished de Lint's piece would've kept going...if it's not the basis of a larger story...it certainly could be. In this form, it's still cracking good. A great start and a great finish to a terrific volume.

But in between there's loads to enjoy. We get the annual superb entry from perennial fave Joe R. Lansdale, "The Bleeding Shadow", a story of a bluesman who got what he wanted in the worst possible way. You'll never put a record on the turntable the same way (yes, I DO still own a turntable!) Tim Powers gives us "A Journey of Only Two Paces", which is short but packs a mighty punch, and that's followed by an evocative, claustrophobic tale by Elizabeth Hand, "Near Zennor". Excellent, excellent. Laura Anne Gilman gets a lot done in just five pages with "Crossroads", and--surprise!--an all-new story from no less than Big Steve, "The Dune", something to remind one that he is still a Master. Nice.

One of my favorites was Priya Sharma's lovely "The Fox Maiden". Now, I know, I hear you, lovely isn't exactly a word you expect in a review of dark fantasy and horror, but there you go, it's one of the things that makes these books so special. Best in show, however, goes this year to Norman Partridge's terrific "Vampire Lake". As you might expect in this Twilight age there are a few vampire stories in this collection, but believe me, this is NOT one of those kind of stories...it's a western. Kinda sorta. And as brutal as Sharma's was gentle. Yikes! Pay up and hit the trail.

I could go on, there's so much good stuff here, but really, even if you expect there to be a few clunkers here and there--some of them even miss for me--the comparatively lesser works are still quite good; the way I see it, much like the Wagner and Jones collections, if you make it into this volume, you've well and truly Accomplished Something. Heck, the book even looks good on your shelf, the graphic design being striking and of a kind with its predecessors. It's a great package. Which is a good thing, as this is one you'll keep and read again and again. I should also point out that the copy editing problems of the 2011 edition seem to have been resolved too, which is a relief.

That's three in a row for Paula Guran. Can she make it four in 2013? I'm looking forward to finding out, and it's already on my Christmas list.
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