Review: 'The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven' edited by Ellen Datlow

The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven edited by Ellen Datlow
Night Shade Books (August 18, 2015)
416 pages; $7.64 paperback/$7.26 ebook
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

BestHorror7The Best Horror of the Year Volume 7, edited by the amazing Ellen Datlow, brings together twenty-two diverse authors in a collection that features a little bit of everything the horror genre has to offer. It truly does have something for everyone. Ellen has been at this for a long time. An editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for more than 30 years and has more than 50 anthologies to her credit.

“The Atlas of Hell” by Nathan Ballingrud. Nathan’s work has appeared in numerous “Years’ Best” anthologies and is a two-time recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award. In this story Tobias George is selling artifacts from Hell and making lots of money in the process. Collected from the Fearful Symmetries anthology.

“Winter Children” by Angela Slater. Angela is the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award. Her writing is definitely a cut above in this story of revenge set in a nursing home. From Voyager PS 32/33.

“A Dweller in Amenty” by Genevieve Valentine. Her stories have appeared in several Best of the Year Anthologies. This one is about making a living as a sin eater. Originally published in Nightmare #18.

“Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers. Rio’s novel Westlake Soul was nominated for Canada’s Sunburst Award. In this story no one is too upset when Beau Roth’s burned body is found headless in the remains of his house. If you aren’t reading Rio Youers, correct this right away. This story was in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.

“Shay Corsham Worsted” by Garth Nix. Garth makes his home in Sydney, Australia and has been writing full time since 2001 and has sold more than five million copies of his books. A very enjoyable story of forgotten tech. This one first appeared in Fearful Symmetries.

“Allochton” from Livia Llewellyn. Her work has been nominated for multiple Shirley Jackson Awards. This short is a tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft. Originally in Letters to Lovecraft.

“Chapter Six” by Stephen Graham Jones. Stephen is the author of fifteen novels and six short story collections. Many of his shorts have been published in “Best of the Year” anthologies. “Chapter Six” is the closest we get to a zombie story in this anthology and is more about a study of anthropology during the apocalypse. First appeared on

“This Is Not For You” by Gemma Files. Gemma was the winner of the 1999 International Horror Guild Best Short Fiction Award. Here we have a mystery religion for women only. From the “Women Destroy Horror” issue of Nightmare magazine.

“Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” by Caitlin R Kiernan. Caitlin was recently named by the New York Times as “one of our essential authors of dark fiction.” One of my favorites in the anthology. The title says it all. I easily became lost in the prose which I found to be lyrical yet callous. Originally published in Sirenia Digest 100.

“The Culvert” by Dale Bailey. Dale has been nominated for numerous awards including the International Horror Guild Award, the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and a Bram Stoker Award. Here a twin goes missing, but which one? This short was originally in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

“Past Reno” by Brian Evenson. Brian is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently the short story collection Windeye and the novel Immobility. In this story, following the death of his estranged father, Bernt has second thoughts of driving all the way to Utah for the reading of the will. Originally published in Letters to Lovecraft.

“The Coat Off His Back” from Keris McDonald. A captivating original concept about an Innocent Coat. Originally in Terror Tales of Yorkshire.

“The Worms Crawl” by Laird Barron. Laird is the author of several books and his short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies.This story is about a plot to murder and a double-cross in the great outdoors. Originally published in Fearful Symmetries.

“The Dogs Home” Alison Littlewood. Aunt Rose is spending her last days in a nursing home and wants nothing more than to see her beloved dog, Sandy, one more time. Her nephew Andrew is more than happy to make it happen. This story first appeared in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.

“Persistence of Vision” from Orrin Grey. Orrin was born on the night before Halloweeen. We’ve all read tales of the coming zombie apocalypse, but what if it’s not zombies, but ghosts we should be worried about. First published in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse.

“It Flows From the Mouth” by Robert Shearman. Robert’s five short story collections have earned him a number of prestigious awards. John is named godfather to Max and Lisa’s son Ian in this strange and creepy story. This one originally appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees 2014.

“Wingless Beasts” by Lucy Taylor. Lucy is the author of seven novels including The Safety of Unknown Cities which earned her a Stoker Award. I loved this story of the life of a loner in Death Valley. This was from her collection Fatal Journeys.

“Departures” by Carole Johnstone. Story of a girl working a store at one of the departure terminals at an airport and what she sees one day in the lounge. This story first appeared in The Bright Day Is Done.

“Ymir” from John Langan. John is one of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Award. Here we have a story with a touch of Norse mythology. This tale was originally published in The Children of Old Leech.

“Plink” by Kurt Dinan. Kurt teaches high school English in Cincinnati and will see his first novel published in 2016. By far, this was my favorite story, the tale of a psych class playing with the mind of their teacher when he returns following bereavement leave. This story first appeared in Far Voyager PS 32/33.

“Nigredo” from Cody Goodfellow. This is the story of a cult deprogrammer and his secret weapon. It was originally published in The Court of the Yellow King.

In a collection this ambitious there are bound to be a few tales that don’t quite hit the mark for every reader. At least I found that to be the case for me. Your mileage may vary.


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