Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24 / Author: Stephen Jones (Editor) / Publisher: Robinson / Release Date: Out Now
'Mammoth' is certainly the right word for it. A chunky tome, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #24 takes in twenty-one short stories, a poem (by Neil Gaiman) and a wealth of additional material. And with names such as Gaiman, Kim Newman and Joe R. Lansdale among the gathered authors, it's pretty substantial too.
The book opens with its introduction: Horror in 2012. This is an extensive, fairly comprehensive look at the major (and less so) horror releases across movies, television, literature and video games in 2012. Organised by subgenre, it's helpful, illuminating and left this writer's 'to do' list a whole lot longer by the time he'd finished reading it. Gaiman kicks off the creative writing with the short but spooky poem Witch Work. One suspects that he wrote it in a spare half hour in-between The Sandman and a Doctor Who episode, but it's an interesting read, nonetheless. The rest of the stories are split between genre stalwarts, such as Lansdale and Ramsey Campbell, and relative newcomers. As with all collections, it can be hit and miss at times, but the standard is generally very high.
Wrapping things up is the morbid but informative Necrology: 2012 by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones – a summary of the great horror writers, filmmakers and creators (as well as a few non-genre persons) who are no longer with us, as of last year. Finally, there's a collection of useful addresses where you can find further reading, should you be so inclined.
Now in its twenty-fourth year, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror makes for great reading. Its stories are just the right length, never outstaying their welcome, while frequently clever, creepy, funny and scary. It's a great collection, even if it does feel like a bit of a hodgepodge of styles and themes. Best New Horror? Well, maybe not quite the 'best', but it is very good.