Epeolatry Book Review: The Best Horror of the Year Volume 12, ed. Ellen Datlow

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Title: The Best Horror of the Year Volume 12
Author: various, ed. Ellen Datlow
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Release Date: 20th Oct, 2020

Synopsis: From Ellen Datlow (“the venerable queen of horror anthologies” (New York Times) comes a new entry in the series that has brought you stories from Stephen King and Neil Gaiman comes thrilling stories, the best horror stories available.

For four decades, Ellen Datlow has been at the center of horror. Bringing you the most frightening and terrifying stories, Datlow always has her finger on the pulse of what horror readers crave. Now, with the twelfth volume of the series, Datlow is back again to bring you the stories that will keep you up at night. Encompassed in the pages of The Best Horror of the Year have been such illustrious writers as: Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, Stephen King, Linda Nagata, Laird Barron, Margo Lanagan, and many others.

With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this light creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers.

In twelve years running, it should come as no surprise that Ellen Datlow is still the master or guiding us to the best horror short stories each year. In ‘The Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve,’ Datlow has once again brought together a perfect collection of the best of the best of what was published in 2019. 

For those out there who have not yet picked up one of these masterpieces, the only downside is that once you’ve purchased one is that you’ll want to buy them all. They’re more addicting than Pokémon and each tale is not only an excellent read but the stories flow well from one into the next.

Another point that should be brought up for fans of the craft is that while you’ll always find some familiar names in these collections (Paul Tremblay and Joe Lansdale are both perfect examples), there are also plenty of authors who aren’t household names. At least, they aren’t yet. There is a nice mixture here of classic horror to tales which could just as easily be defined as thrillers but none of them should leave you feeling like filler. 

For me, my personal favorites were Paul Tremblay who served up the intro story, “The Puppet Motel” by Gemma Files, “This Was Always Going to Happen” by Stephen Graham Jones, and “The Hope Chest” by Sarah Read. Again, none of the stories within these anthologies are going to leave you wishing for something else.

On top of the some of the best horror-themed fiction which you’ll find from the year, these works also always include a bit of a round up of other areas of interest for horror fanatics. From awards given to some of the best novels you may have missed, this isn’t just fiction but a guide to those who love something darker in their lives. (I won’t lie, now that we’ve landed on Writer’s Digest op sites for authors, my next dream shout out will be to be mentioned in one of Datlow’s releases!) 

4.5/5 stars

Available from amazon.

Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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