Review: The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015

The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2015 EditionThe Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2015 Edition by Paula Guran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ostracism, cruelty, loneliness and desperation rise to the top in this anthology of the best of the best of the new dark and dreary. A great many of these short stories and novellas are excellent in this 6th annual edition of this collection. Editor Paula Guran can be counted on cast a wide net when it comes to tone and genre, but to glean the best therein.

Five stories rocked my world with their depth into the human condition, starting with V. H. Leslie’s “The Quiet Room” in which a divorced father claims his daughter after the death of his wife. The unresolved issues solidify into a haunting silence in the ghost story. “The Female Factory” by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter reveals the bleak conditions of a Tasmanian women’s prison in the early 19th C. “The Cats of River Street (1925)” by Caitlyn R. Kiernan gives a 100-year update to Lovecraft’s novella “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” A century later, and the residents are as singularly secluded as ever. Kali Wallace’s “Water in Springtime” employs imagery not unlike a Miyazaki film centering on a strained mother-daughter relationship in a ravaged landscape. Finally, “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” by Damien Angelica Walters uses literalism to cast a fantastical light on real world problems when in the tale 300,000 teen girls from all over the world drift away into the ether never to be seen again.

I’ve reviewed each story contained in the anthology. My honorable mentions meriting 4-stars are:
Armstrong, Kelley–“The Screams of Dragons”
Bear, Elizabeth–“Madam Damnable’s Sewing Circle”
Bowes, Richard–“Sleep Walking Now and Then”
Gilbow, S. L.–“Mr. Hill’s Death”
Langan, John–“Children of the Fang”
Marshall, Helen–“Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta”
Sanderson, Brandon–“Dreamer”
Tem, Steve Rasnic–“The Still, Cold Air”
Tidhar, Lavie–“Kur-A-Len”

Also included:
Bailey, Dale–“The End of the End of Everything”–3 stars
Kim, Alice Sola–“Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying”–3 stars
Lee, Yoon Ha–“Combustion Hour”–3 stars
Malik, Usman T.–“Resurrection Points”–3 stars
Strantzas, Simon–“Emotional Dues”–3 stars
VanderMeer, Jeff–“Fragments from the Notes of a Dead Mycologist”–3 stars
Warren, Kaaron–“The Nursery Corner”–3 stars
Bulkin, Nadia–“Only Unity Saves the Damned”–2 stars
Files, Gemma–“A Wish from a Bone”–2 stars
Headley, Maria Dahvana–“Who is Your Executioner?”–2 stars
Wise, A. C.–“And the Carnival Leaves Town”–2 stars
Barron, Laird–“(Little Miss) Queen of Darkness”–1 star
Jones, Stephen Graham–“The Elvis Room”–1 star
Liu, Ken–“Running Shoes”–1 star

I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. This collection is highly recommended. Previously, I’ve reviewed three other Paula Guran edited, Prime Books anthologies:
After the End: Recent Apocalypses–4 stars
Extreme Zombies–4 stars
Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep–4 stars
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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