cover image Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Vol. 1

Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Vol. 1

Edited by Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax. Comet, $15.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-936964-58-1

Not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, the 19 stories in this new best-of annual anthology feature episodes of graphic gore and violence—including torture, dismemberment, self-mutilation, and home abortion—that are designed to push buttons as well as boundaries. In the best stories—which include Kristopher Triana’s “Dead End,” a character study about a hell-bound serial killer, and Tony Knighton’s “The Scavengers,” concerning an African ivory heist that goes bloodily bad—violent incidents help to bring the brutal lives of their characters into sharp focus and set up poetically just endings. But in a number of less tactful stories, including David James Keaton’s “What’s Worst” and MP Johnson’s “Bored with Brutality,” the telling seems little more than an excuse to indulge in nonstop dead baby jokes or gratuitous scatological humor. Culled almost exclusively from publications from small and specialty press outlets, the stories in this volume are strictly for hardcore horror fans. (June)