Following up on her role as the compiler of the horror selections for the iconic The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror series, editor Ellen Datlow has gone solo for The Best Horror of the Year, now entering its fourth year. The first three volumes have been widely praised for their quality, and volume four features tales from Laird Barron, Stephen King, Margo Lanagan, Livia Llewellyn, Peter Straub, and many others.
Here at Omni, we thought it would be fun to give readers a taste of each story, with lines selected from the first couple of pages (so as not to ruin any surprises). So dip in, and then pick up this carefully curated collection of horror for the summer"¦
Laird Barron, "Blackwood's Baby" -
"On the other hand, there were some, such as a Boer and another renowned hunter from Canada Luke Honey had accompanied on many safaris, who seemed stronger, more vibrant with each passing season, as if the dust and the heat, the cloying jungle rot and the blood they spilled fed them, bred into them a savage vitality."
Simon Bestwick, "Dermot" -
"It's hard for people to put their fingers on it. Maybe it's the way his bald head looks a bit too big. Or the fishy largeness of his eyes behind the jar-thick spectacles. The nervous quiver of his pale lips"¦"
Simon Bestwick, "The Moraine" -
"The mist hit us suddenly. One moment we had the peak in sight; the next, the white had swallowed up the crags and was rolling down towards us."
Leah Bobet, "Stay" -
"She felt the storm come in, in her kneecaps, then her thighs. By eight o'clock it blew from the north into Sunrise, January-hard and fine like sand, and Cora's hip was aching."
Glen Hirshberg, "You Become the Neighborhood" -
"All at once, I do remember. And I find myself glancing toward the hedge, then the back alley where the dumpster is, half-expecting to see that little darker-green hump in the grass. That tiny, wrinkled head turned slightly sideways."
Brian Hodge, "Roots and All" -
"The way in was nothing like we remembered, miles off the main road, and Gina and me with one half-decent sense of direction between us."
Stephen King, "The Little Green God of Agony" -
"Her face was carefully blank. She was a piece of human furniture in this big house"”in this big bedroom where she now spent most of her working life"”and that was the way she liked it."
Margo Lanagan, "Mulberry Boys" -
"So night comes on. I make my own fire, because why would I want to sit at Phillip's, next to that pinned-down Mulberry?"
John Langan, "In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos" -
"Vasquez shrugged. She knew the gesture would irritate Buchanan, who took an almost pathological delight in complaining about everything in Paris, from the lack of air conditioning on the train ride in from De Gaulle to their narrow hotel rooms"¦"
Terry Lamsley, "In the Absence of Murdock" -
"Jerry called himself an "old-fashioned" writer. He claimed to despise computers and people who used them and was proud of his antiquated method of producing his and Murdock's scripts."
Alison Littlewood, "Black Feathers" -
"There was a raven at the edge of the woods. It was huge"”even its beak looked as long as Mia's fingers."
Livia Llewellyn, "Omphalos" -
"Vacation doesn't begin when Father pulls the Volkswagen camper out of the driveway, and speeds through the sleepy Tacoma streets toward Narrows Bridge. It doesn't begin on the long stretches of Route 16 through Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, and Bremerton"¦"
David Nickle, "Looker" -
"I met her on the beach. It was one of Len's parties"”one of the last he threw before he had to stop. You were there too. But we didn't speak."
Priya Sharma, "The Show" -
"The camera crew struggled with the twisting, narrow stairs. Their kit was portable, steadicams being all the rage. They were lucky that the nature of their work did not require more light."
Peter Straub, "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" -
"Ballard wandered over to the brass-bound porthole on the deck side of their elaborate, many-roomed suite. Whatever he saw caused him momentarily to stiffen and take an involuntary step backwards."
Anna Taborska, "Little Pig" -
"The sleigh sped through the dark forest, the scant moonlight reflected by the snow lighting up the whites of the horse's eyes as it galloped along the narrow path, nostrils flaring and velvet mouth spitting foam and blood into the night."
Chet Williamson, "The Final Verse" -
"Okay, this on? Yep, red light, guess I'm good to go. I carry this thing around in case I get any song ideas, never used more than the first few minutes of a tape, so this'll be a first."
A.C. Wise, "Final Girl Theory" -
"Everyone knows the opening sequence of Kaleidoscope. Even if they've never seen any other part of the movie (and they have, even if they won't admit it), they know the opening scene."