which yes, I am still very much working on
A collection I've really enjoyed:
No Further Messages by Brett Alexander Savory (Delirium Books) demonstrates the maturation of a fine writer whose short fiction keep getting better and better. Three of the twenty-one stories are original to the collection and one was reprinted in YBFH#20. It is Book 9 in the Delirium Exclusive series. The good-looking jacket art is by Michael Gibbs.

An all original anthology I've just finished reading:
Strange Tales Volume II edited by Rosalie Parker (Tartarus Press) is the worthy follow-up to the World Fantasy Award winning volume of supernatural and psychological horror fiction. The wide-ranging original seventeen stories are all readable but the strongest are by Elizabeth Brown, Adam Golaski, Christopher Harman, Stephen Holman, Joel Knight, Don Tumasonis (under the pseudonym Hilbourne Carlone), A.G. Slatter, with a very good novella by David Rix.
Midnight Premiere edited by Tom Piccirilli (CD) is the long –awaited horror/dark fantasy theme anthology about Hollywood and horror film. It’s got an entertaining mix, with strong entries by Thomas F. Monteleone, Richard Grove & Lisa Morton, Ray Garton, Tom Piccirilli, Brian Hodge, T.M. Wright, Gary A. Braunbeck, Mick Garris, Gerard Houarner, and Jack Ketchum.

The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction edited by George Mann (Solaris) has a handful of good, very dark sf stories by writers such as Simon Ings, Neal Asher, and Jeffrey Thomas.
Just finished a terrific little book marketed as YA about a teenage boy whose brother was killed in a horrible accident. The surviving brother is not surviving very well and just about a year after the accident he begins to experience very strange things, as events (not to mention his life) spiral out of control. Only 135 pages with a great cover:

Twice Dead Things AA Attanasio Elder Signs Press galleys
The Complete Stories David Malouf ( two originals) Pantheon
You are the Fly James Cooper Humdrumming Press
The Attic Express Alex Hamilton Ash-Tree one original
The Imago Sequence Laird Barron Night Shade
Over the Darkening Fields Scott Thomas Dark Regions Press
That’s Entertainment Robert Neilson Elastic Press
World Wide Web & Other Lovecraftian Upgrades Gary Fry Humdrummung
The Best of Robert E. Howard vol. 1 Crimson Shadows Del Rey
Fairy Tales for Writers Lawrence Schimel A Midsummer’s Night Press
HebrewPunk Lavie Tidhar Apex
The Spiraling Worm David Conyers & John Suneri Chaosium
Dirty Prayers Gary McMahon Gray Friar Press
Stains Paul Finch Gray Friar Press
The Guild of Xenolinguists Sheila Finch Golden Gryphon
The River Knows Its Own Jay Lake Wheatland Press
The Girl Who Loved Animals Bruce McAllister Golden Gryphon
Cat O’Nine Tales Jeffrey Archer St Martin’s
Voyeurs of Death Shaun Jeffrey Doorways Publication
12 Collections & The Teashop Zoran Živković PS Publishing galleys
Ugly Stories for Beautiful People James Burr Corsega Press
Lair of the Dreamer Franklin Searight Hippocampus Press
When it Rains Christopher Fulbright Doorways Publications
God Laughs When You Die Michael Boatman Dybbuk Press
Worshipping Small Gods Richard Parks Prime
A Thousand Deaths George Alec Effinger Golden Gryphon
Vanilla Bright Like Eminem: Stories Michael Faber Harcourt
The Nail and the Oracle Theodore Sturgeon North Atlantic Books
When we were Six Heather Shaw Tropism Press
Stranded V.L. McDermid Amble Press
Dagger Key Lucius Shepard PS galleys
Closing Time Jack Ketchum Gauntlet
Matinee at the Flame Christopher Fahy Overlook Cn galleys
Omens Richard Gavin Mythos books
The Fat of Mice Susan Palwick Tachyon
The Last Mimzy Henry Kuttner Del Rey
Going Back Tony Richards Elastic Press
M is for Magic Neil Gaiman Harpercollins
Out there in the Darkness vol 1 Collected Ed Gorman PS
The Moving Coffin vol 2 Collected Ed Gorman PS
Scratching the Surface Michael Kelly Crowswing
The Midnight Hour Neil Davies Screaming Dreams
Smothered Dolls A .R. Morlan Overlook Press Connection galleys
Living Shadows John Shirley Prime
The Mathematics of Magic L. Sprague de Camp & Pratt NESFA Books
In Fear and Dread Derek M. Fox Rainfall Books
Cthulhu Australis David Conyers Rainfall
Death Songs of Carcossa John B. Ford & Steve Lines Rainfall
Tales of the Phantom Moon Andy McILvain Rainfall
The Involuntary Human David Gerrold NESFA Books
Balefires David Drake sw2e3Night Shade
The Door to Saturn Clark Ashton Smith Night Shade

If you've got a collection out this year, it has horror or very dark fiction in it,and it's not on this list, please ask your publisher to send it to me (or ask first, there may be a few things not yet logged in).
I'm still reading but these are so far the outstanding horror collections:

The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books) is probably the most eagerly anticipated debut horror collection of 2007 and it’s one of the best of the year. Barron’s a stylist who creates believable and flawed characters, and his short fiction (usually novellas or long novelettes) often delves into Lovecraftian depths and brings up new takes on very old monsters. The eight reprints and one original novella are completely engrossing. Three of the stories were reprinted in earlier volumes of YBFH and two others would have been if they’d been shorter. A special nod to the jacket artist and designer respectively: Eleni Tsami and Claudia Noble.

Stains by Paul Finch (Gray Friar Press) is the author’s second collection. Finch’s fiction is visceral and usually is set in the contemporary UK. His first collection, Aftershocks, won the British Fantasy Award and this new one will likely be on the award’s short list. Included are eight stories, including three new novellas, two of them very good. The attractive hardcover has jacket art by Zach McCain and an introduction by Simon Clark. Not as consistently good as Barron, but very good indeed.

Old Devil Moon by Christopher Fowler (Serpent’s Tale) features mostly new stories from this prolific writer of horror and mystery fiction. Although some of the stories are thin, they’re all entertaining, and there are a handful that are wonderfully creepy.

Dirty Prayers by Gary McMahon (Gray Friar Press) has some effective stories among the twenty-five pieces of fiction, but it would have been a stronger collection if the interstitial “psalms” were deleted along with the vignettes, preserving only the cream of the crop. That said, there are some very good originals in the book.

And just so you all know, I rarely spend much time on collections with no original material. So I may very much like a collection that's all reprints, but unless I'm very familiar with the author's work, I won't say much about it.
Some novels I have no problem summing up in a few lines; for others it's an agony and far too much time goes into trying to write something intelligible. Here are a few for which I've had a very difficult time (partly because I enjoyed the books so much, I want to do justice to them). All I can say is read them! They're terrific.

Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand (Small Beer) is the author’s first foray into the psychological suspense thriller and it’s a doozy. Cass (Scary) Neary is a prickly, pill popping protagonist best known for the photographs of dead people she took during the punk scene. Now she’s on an assignment/pilgrimage to backwoods Maine to interview the reclusive photographer who so strongly influenced her own work. What ensues is engrossing and horrifying.

Spook Country by William Gibson (Putnam) is not horrific, but there’s a dark undercurrent of paranoia threaded throughout this tense and satisfying, overtly political “caper” novel. It’s a perfect successor to Pattern Recognition. A former rocker, now a journalist is on assignment for a magazine that doesn’t yet exist, a pill popping break-in wizard is stuck with a paranoid secret ops loony, and a young Cuban is involved in mysterious information transfers. And they’re all converging on a huge shipping container with a mysterious something inside. This all makes for great entertainment.

Fangland by John Marks (Penguin) is a surprisingly original vampire novel about a young associate producer sent to Transylvania to vet a mysterious crime lord for an interview on The Hour (modeled on 60 Minutes, Marks’ former workplace), a major newsmagazine show in New York. The crime lord, actually a vampiric creature who infects victims with the voices of humans killed in atrocities throughout history uses the woman’s connections to worm his way onto the twentieth floor of The Hour—dubbed “fangland” by its denizens. Every time the reader thinks she knows where the story is going, it takes a neat half turn away from the obvious.
I didn't receive this till 07 but it was published in 06. M Press is the offshoot of Dark Horse Comics and Rob Simpson, the editor there has been publishing a series of novels that are related to classic novels. So far, I know that Paul Witcover, Paul Di Filippo, and Elizabeth Hand have written novels for him. Bottom Feeder by B.H. Fingerman (M Press) is a debut novel by a writer better known for his graphic novel writing. A reluctant vampire from Queens, New York is turned at age twenty –seven by an unknown attacker and loses his wife, his home, and his job and forced to make it on his own in his strange new world. His only friend is a total loser he’s known since high school who just won’t let go. Funny, ironic, and ultimately even moving as the guy meets other vampires and see the possible lifestyles he could be “living.”

Remainder by Tom McCarthy (Vintage) is a first novel about a man who received an 8 ½ million pound sterling settlement for an accident in which he almost died. The reader never finds out what actually happened but upon the guy’s recovery, he becomes convinced that he has lost his connection to the world and that the only way he can recover is to recreate a specific living condition that he remembers. Hiring a facilitator, he does this by buying up property and peopling it with hirelings who will follow a specific script that he supplies—on call to his every whim. The pianist upstairs must practice a specific piece of music and when he makes mistakes, he has to practice over and over again. The concierge must stand by the door all day –in a mask—as the employer doesn’t remember the actual face of the original concierge. Black cats must roam the red slate roof across the way. His fraying mind demands that he re-enact scenes that he has viewed in life and his wealth makes it possible to do so. The end result is inevitable—monstrous, terrifying, and in a way funny.

Deadstock by Jeffrey Thomas (Solaris) is a “Punktown” novel, and like all of Thomas’s fiction in his world, is absorbing and well told. I love his world building…I was a bit put off at first by some clunkiness in the writing, but ultimately the story carried me along. A private eye is hired by a rich man to find the missing, very expensive and unique doll that he has bioengineered for his daughter. In the meantime, an abandoned apartment building defends itself by bloodily slaughtering all intruders and a young girl has disappeared.

Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster) brings back Arkady Renko, the Moscow detective first introduced by Smith in Gorky Park. Since then, Renko has returned in novels several times since, including the Chernobyl novel Wolves Eat Dogs. In the new book, the ghost of Stalin appears to a subway car full of Muscovites, starting a chain of events that lead to political chicanery, death, revisiting past atrocities in Chechnya, and some nicely done plot twists.
In the Woods by Tana French (Viking) is another solid debut novel. In 1984, two children playing in a suburban British woods go missing, and the third child, found with blood in his sneakers and almost catatonic, has no memory of what happened to his two friends. Twenty years later that survivor has become a detective on the murder squad and is faced with a child murder in the same woods. The ensuing psychological suspense tale has a teeny hint of the supernatural that provides a thrill of extra creepiness.

Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett (Knopf) is the third in the remarkable series of mysteries featuring the Thai Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. The novel begins with the detective viewing what is apparently a snuff film, the victim being a former lover with whom he was (and still is) obsessed. The story initially seems pretty straightforward but as with the two earlier novels, it becomes richer and more complex ultimately twisting into web of cruelty, vengeance, mysticism, and magic.

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes (Victor Gollancz) is an entertaining tale about a conspiracy afoot in Victorian England and the stage conjuror who is called up on to save the threatened city of London. The utterly unreliable narrator, the tall, silent titular character, and a cast of the grotesque makes for magical, bloody fun.
Players by Paul McAuley (Simon & Schuster, UK) is a lively police procedural mixed with serial killer novel opening with the discovery of a dying naked teenage girl in a remote Oregon forest. A rookie detective becomes involved in a cat and mouse game with a psychotic so obsessed with the multi person online game he created that he’s used plastic surgery to have him look like one of the characters. The gamer is convinced that he can get away with anything because of his superiority over mere humans. Plenty of violence and some gore. Although better known for his science fiction McAuley has been moving between genres with books like his crime novel Whole Wide World and his thrillers White Devils and Mind’s Eye. While timely, this one isn't as ambitious as most of McAuley's novels, but it IS entertaining.

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott (ABC Books) is a nightmarish story about an aimless young Australian who’s warned by a bunch of wayward clowns that his audition is imminent –whoa! Who said he even wanted to be a clown? But it’s down the rabbit hole for him, into a carnival existing in an alternate universe and run by a pair of sadistic brothers who answer to creatures even more monstrous than themselves…and no one –not even the customers, can leave the show intact. I didn't get around to reading it in 2006, when it came out. I'm very pleased that it's made the IHGA ballot. AFAIK it has not yet sold in the US, which is a shame.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (William Morrow) is a solid first novel that while not brilliant like Hill’s debut book, the collection Twentieth Century Ghosts, is still very good. A jaded former rock star bids on a ghost being auctioned off on eBay and wins it. The book is smoothly written and expertly lays on the suspense as the protagonist and those he cares about are dragged into the influential sphere of a twisted and dangerous haunt.


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