I read all nine volumes of Ellen Datlow’s ‘The Best Horror of the Year’ between December 2017 and February 2018 and highly recommend this series. It has been very skilfully curated, the editor has an eye I trust implicitly, and the series has an international reach in its selections. I’d venture that it also leans to the literary, which is to my taste.
I was already familiar with about 25% of the stories published, but also found many new authors I’d never read, as well as some of my favourite new horror stories (a multi-author anthology should also be about surprise and discovery and I venture this will be to nearly every new reader). For me, it also has my favourite horror series’ artwork.
I also read in reverse order from volume 9 to volume 1, and though I recommend reading each volume, numbers 4 to 9 were my personal favourites, with Vol. 8 & 9 being as enjoyable and exciting to read as the Derleth collections in my dad’s library that I read as a young teen (in which I discovered the likes of Robert Bloch and Wakefield).
The series mirrors the growth of quality horror fiction that we’ve seen over the last decade, giving the editor a greater, wider and more varied choice as the number and variety of publications increased. To my eye as a reader, we have enjoyed something of a renaissance in quality horror since this series began, and not just in the short story. This series 1 – 9 organizes and exemplifies that period.
Many of the individual stories in the collections, and the summations of each year’s publishing in nearly all mediums, from journals to novels, have also made my wish-lists grow like magic beanstalks.
I’ve had some of my own stories included in the series and I can honestly say I was lucky to even get into those volumes. Ellen Datlow has now had to create a ‘Best of the Best Horror of the Year’ volume. No easy task and I’m surprised and delighted to see that my story, ‘The Days of Our Lives’, has also been included in this volume.
An essential series for serious readers and writers of horror to see what can be done in this field. Vol 10 is out this summer.