cover image The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror

. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $10.95 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0585-6

Offering 19 stories from writers both well and little known, this ninth volume in Jones's award-winning (World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award, etc.) series lives up to its title. The remarkably varied fiction, impeccably crafted for the most part, is divided evenly between U.S. and U.K. writers (nine of each, plus one American author who resides in England). Some of the strongest stories offer imaginative twists on traditional tropes. David Schow's hilariously mordant ""Dying Words"" deals with a writer, zombies and the state of the genre; Doug Winter's deft and quietly dramatic ""Zombies of Madison County"" also deals with a writer and zombies--and, perhaps, the state of the world. Both Kim Newman's ""Coppola's Dracula"" and Brian Hodge's ""The Dripping of Sundered Wineskins"" feature vampires, but these novellas go in entirely different directions. Hodge's trio of weird sisters takes in a lapsed Irish priest whose destiny is entwined with theirs, while Newman parallels the traditional Romanian Dracula to his latest cinematic incarnation. With ""Words,"" Ramsey Campbell has dark fun in a strange story involving a fantasy fan who becomes a publishing phenomenon and a critic who resists his sway. Chilling reality-based terror is included, as are several tales that slipstream into SF. The knowledgeable, prolific (editor of more than 40 books) and opinionated Jones's 60-page summation of the year in horror, his compendium of useful addresses and a necrology co-authored with Kim Newman are alone worth the book's low cover price. Displaying the vitality of the field, as well as some of its top-flight talent, the book is, like most of its predecessors, a must-have, must-read anthology for horror buffs. (Feb.)