cover image The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror

. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $10.95 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0474-3

Jones, a veteran with more than 20 years of credits in the horror field, has once again sifted gold from the dross of a year's yield of genre and mainstream publications to produce a fine collection that will appeal to a wide variety of tastes in terror. The considerable number of new talents among his 24 choices as the top stories from 1996 suggest horror fiction's enduring vitality. Styles vary from Gregory Frost's ""That Blissful Height,"" a pastiche of 19th-century spiritualist stories, to Iain Sinclair's ""Hardball,"" a postmodern black comedy that uses linguistic legerdemain and compares a football game to a primitive sacrificial ceremony. Some stories work inventive variations on classic themes: Terry Lamsley, in ""The Break,"" creates a new type of vampire for a hotel resort setting, and Scott Edelman, in ""A Plague on Both Your Houses,"" casts a Shakespearean tragedy with zombies. In most of the selections, horror begins at home, rooted in the most fundamental relationships: husband and wife in Douglas Clegg's ""Underworld""; mother and son in D.F. Lewis's ""Kites and Kisses""; father and daughter in Roberta Lannes's ""Butcher's Logic""; boyfriend and girlfriend in Joel Lane's ""The Moon Never Changes."" In his highly informative introduction, Jones speculates that ""horror fiction is set for a renaissance as the new millennium approaches."" The contents of this expertly assembled anthology would suggest that the rebirth has already arrived. (Nov.)