Veteran editor Paula Guran has put together a comprehensive “year’s best” collection that includes some true gems.
All eyes will be drawn to Stephen King’s entry, “The Dune,” and Big Steve delivers a satisfying—if quaint—E.C comics-style chiller.
But King’s story is far from the best in this collection. My vote would be for Stephen Graham Jones’ coming of age / zombie baseball tale, “Rocket Man,” a tantalizing blend of humor, heartache, and gore. Or maybe Joe Lansdale’s Lovecraftian musical interlude, “The Bleeding Shadow” (which—if I may be so bold, and insert a cheap plug —shares themes with the brilliant rock-n-roll horror novel, Hangman’s Jam.)
Other noteworthy stories include Priya Sharma’s sexually charged fairy tale, “The Fox Maiden,” and Tananarive Due’s “The Lake,” which is delivered by an unreliable—and increasingly inhuman—narrator.
Guran has put together a “something for everyone” story buffet, with whimsical fantasy tales butting up against hardcore horror. The effect can be jarring, but such is the nature of “Year’s Best” collections. There’s no linking theme to these stories, other than good writing and strong storytelling.
Pick up The Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, and you’re sure to find a story or two that will personally haunt you.