Reviewed by Stewart Horn
I almost think itâ€™s cheating.Â Other compilers ask for submissions and plough through a mountain of slush to scrape together enough good material to fill an anthology.Â Stephen Jones apparently has the contacts (and the budget) to simply call some of the worldâ€™s most accomplished and best known authors and have them send him stories.Â In fairness, Jones is rightly renowned for his previous work, including the splendid â€œBest New Horrorâ€ annual anthology, so heâ€™s worked for a long time to get to this position.
The book contains thirteen new stories from masters of the genre, including Stephen King, Dennis Etchison, John Lindqvist, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Tuttle – all thirteen are world class authors and theyâ€™ve all delivered the goods here.
There are updates on the Victorian ghost story, the gothic tale, American pulp and Blackwoodian weird, spliced among more contemporary horrors.Â There is humour, satire and deadly earnestness, and chilling prods at the banal domestic things most of us are really afraid of.Â There is quiet subtlety and there is gruesome nastiness.Â In short, itâ€™s an anthology with no theme â€“ the only thing the stories have in common is consistently high quality.Â Itâ€™s as if Stephen Jones approached the authors and said â€œJust give me something scary.â€
A brilliant, properly frightening book, and a good indicator of what state the top end of the genre is in.