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The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 Edition Paperback – 19 Jun 2012

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3.8 out of 5 stars 10 reviews from

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific 17 Dec. 2012
By Battyward - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great stories ... but not quite a great anthology. 19 May 2015
By Peter Olafson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On one hand, this collection is fairly thick with splendidly shady stories. Objects in Dreams May Be Closer Than They Appear. The Bleeding Shadow. King Death. Josh. Vampire Lake. The enchantingly bizarre A Journey of Only Two Paces. Near Zennor. And not least the surprising closer A Tangle of Green Men.

I was still thinking about some of those stories days later.

On the other, the valleys between these peaks seem deeper than in the other DF&H collections I’ve read. Indeed, some tales struck me as so wide of the “best” mark -- they just never get underway at all -- that the overall fabric of the collection suffered as a result. To be sure, it's set of great stories ... but not quite a great anthology.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Companion to Other 'Best of" Yearly Collections 18 Sept. 2012
By Anastasia McPherson - Published on
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars I like horror stories 9 Feb. 2013
By Dennis Latham - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think my tastes have gone back to horror stories rather than horror novels because novels just seem to have hit a wall, but stories can always have fresh ideas that don't have to be padded to make length. I like the stories that I have read so far in this collection, and though I may not agree that all may be the best I've read, I think it's a good representation of the horror story and I'm enjoying it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed collection 1 Jun. 2013
By Lela Kay - Published on
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.
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