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Compiling the finest in frightening tales, this unique anthology offers a diverse selection of horror culled from the last 25 years. Hand selected from cutting-edge authors, each work blends subtle psychology and mischievousness with disturbingly visceral imagery. In the classic "Chattery Teeth,” Stephen King provides a tautly drawn account of a traveling salesman who unwi Compiling the finest in frightening tales, this unique anthology offers a diverse selection of horror culled from the last 25 years. Hand selected from cutting-edge authors, each work blends subtle psychology and mischievousness with disturbingly visceral imagery. In the classic "Chattery Teeth,” Stephen King provides a tautly drawn account of a traveling salesman who unwisely picks up yet another hitchhiker, while in Peter Straub’s eerie "The Juniper Tree," a man whose nostalgia for the movies of his childhood leads to his stolen innocence. Renowned fantasy author George R. R. Martin weaves a sinister yarn about a young woman encountering a neighbor who is overly enamored with her in "The Pear-Shaped Man." Combining acclaimed masters of the macabre, such as Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, and Thomas Ligotti, with bold new talents to the genre, including Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, this distinctive collection of stories will delight and terrify. Contents "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament" by Clive Barker "Dancing Chickens" by Edward Bryant "The Greater Festival of Masks" by Thomas Ligotti "The Pear-Shaped Man" by George R. R. Martin "The Juniper Tree" by Peter Straub "Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds" by Dan Simmons "The Power and the Passion" by Pat Cadigan "The Phone Woman" by Joe R. Lansdale "Teratisms" by Kathe Koja "Chattery Teeth" by Stephen King "A Little Night Music" by Lucius Shepard "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" by Poppy Z. Brite "The Erl King" by Elizabeth Hand "The Dog Park" by Dennis Etchison "Rain Falls" by Michael Marshall Smith "Refrigerator Heaven" by David J. Schow "----" by Joyce Carol Oates "Eaten (Scenes from a Moving Picture)" by Neil Gaiman "The Specialist’s Hat" by Kelly Link "The Tree is My Hat" by Gene Wolfe "Heat" by Steve Rasnic Tem "No Strings" by Ramsey Campbell "Stitch" by Terry Dowling "Dancing Men" by Glen Hirshberg "My Father’s Mask" by Joe Hill


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Compiling the finest in frightening tales, this unique anthology offers a diverse selection of horror culled from the last 25 years. Hand selected from cutting-edge authors, each work blends subtle psychology and mischievousness with disturbingly visceral imagery. In the classic "Chattery Teeth,” Stephen King provides a tautly drawn account of a traveling salesman who unwi Compiling the finest in frightening tales, this unique anthology offers a diverse selection of horror culled from the last 25 years. Hand selected from cutting-edge authors, each work blends subtle psychology and mischievousness with disturbingly visceral imagery. In the classic "Chattery Teeth,” Stephen King provides a tautly drawn account of a traveling salesman who unwisely picks up yet another hitchhiker, while in Peter Straub’s eerie "The Juniper Tree," a man whose nostalgia for the movies of his childhood leads to his stolen innocence. Renowned fantasy author George R. R. Martin weaves a sinister yarn about a young woman encountering a neighbor who is overly enamored with her in "The Pear-Shaped Man." Combining acclaimed masters of the macabre, such as Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, and Thomas Ligotti, with bold new talents to the genre, including Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, this distinctive collection of stories will delight and terrify. Contents "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament" by Clive Barker "Dancing Chickens" by Edward Bryant "The Greater Festival of Masks" by Thomas Ligotti "The Pear-Shaped Man" by George R. R. Martin "The Juniper Tree" by Peter Straub "Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds" by Dan Simmons "The Power and the Passion" by Pat Cadigan "The Phone Woman" by Joe R. Lansdale "Teratisms" by Kathe Koja "Chattery Teeth" by Stephen King "A Little Night Music" by Lucius Shepard "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" by Poppy Z. Brite "The Erl King" by Elizabeth Hand "The Dog Park" by Dennis Etchison "Rain Falls" by Michael Marshall Smith "Refrigerator Heaven" by David J. Schow "----" by Joyce Carol Oates "Eaten (Scenes from a Moving Picture)" by Neil Gaiman "The Specialist’s Hat" by Kelly Link "The Tree is My Hat" by Gene Wolfe "Heat" by Steve Rasnic Tem "No Strings" by Ramsey Campbell "Stitch" by Terry Dowling "Dancing Men" by Glen Hirshberg "My Father’s Mask" by Joe Hill

30 review for Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wil Wheaton

    Some of the stories in this very uneven collection are really good, but too many entries just did nothing for me. I abandoned it a little less than halfway through (so feel free to judge me and this review accordingly), because I have a huge stack of stuff that I genuinely want to read, and life's too short. Some of the stories in this very uneven collection are really good, but too many entries just did nothing for me. I abandoned it a little less than halfway through (so feel free to judge me and this review accordingly), because I have a huge stack of stuff that I genuinely want to read, and life's too short.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maxine Marsh

    4.5* So I'd read some other anthologies earlier this year and remembered how much I do enjoy a good collection. So when I realized that Darkness was one of my reads for the Horror Aficionados yearly challenge (from the Nightmare Top 100 Horror Books list), I cracked this puppy open! After the first few stories I was glad that I did. Most of the selections are top notch, with only a few that didn't seem up to par with the others. The most striking stories included: - The very creepy "The Pear-Shaped 4.5* So I'd read some other anthologies earlier this year and remembered how much I do enjoy a good collection. So when I realized that Darkness was one of my reads for the Horror Aficionados yearly challenge (from the Nightmare Top 100 Horror Books list), I cracked this puppy open! After the first few stories I was glad that I did. Most of the selections are top notch, with only a few that didn't seem up to par with the others. The most striking stories included: - The very creepy "The Pear-Shaped Man" by George R.R. Martin - "The Juniper Tree", in which Peter Straub introduces Tim Underhill in a very disturbing story - "The Phone Woman," by Joe R. Lansdale, also very disturbing - The triumphant "Chattery Teeth" by Stephen King - Poppy Z. Brite's dark vision of Calcutta in the midst of a zombie plague, "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" - "The Tree is My Hat" takes us to a small Pacific island guarded by the old gods, courtesy of Gene Wolf - "Stitch" by Terry Dowling will leave you speechless, truly satisfying in the most horrific way

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Honestly I was really disappointed with this horror anthology. I have been looking forward to reading this for a while especially because of the selection of horror authors, which was truly impressive. But I'm not really sure the editor has a very clear picture of what horror is, and it seemed very apparent because of the selections made. I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, although it was not wholly awful (there were a handful of creepy tales.) I say if you're thinking about picking thi Honestly I was really disappointed with this horror anthology. I have been looking forward to reading this for a while especially because of the selection of horror authors, which was truly impressive. But I'm not really sure the editor has a very clear picture of what horror is, and it seemed very apparent because of the selections made. I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, although it was not wholly awful (there were a handful of creepy tales.) I say if you're thinking about picking this up for a read just go ahead and put back.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I really liked reading this collection, more for the fact that it helped me narrow my likes and dislikes when it comes to horror, than because the stories were all consistently good. There were some true gems and some real bombs in here, but I guess that's to be expected in an anthology. Overall I recommend this book, especially if your looking for a sampling of what the genre has to offer and some new authors you may not have heard of before. •Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament-4.5 stars A d I really liked reading this collection, more for the fact that it helped me narrow my likes and dislikes when it comes to horror, than because the stories were all consistently good. There were some true gems and some real bombs in here, but I guess that's to be expected in an anthology. Overall I recommend this book, especially if your looking for a sampling of what the genre has to offer and some new authors you may not have heard of before. •Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament-4.5 stars A disturbed and depressed woman has the ability to manipulate and control flesh. Gory and twisted, with interesting complex characters and great writing. •Dancing Chickens-3 stars Orphaned and abused kid makes first contact with aliens in a very twisted turn of events. Surprising, yet ultimately not horrifying enough. The realities of street life had more impact than the climax of the story. •The Greater Festival of Masks-1 star Man stumbles upon weird town's mask ceremony. Totally forgettable, not scary, and uninspired. •The Pear Shaped Man-3.5 stars An oddly figured and mysterious man becomes obsessed with his new neighbor, and he wants to show her his special things. Creepy stalker body horror, with a helping hand of paranoia and the supernatural bumping up against the everyday. •The Juniper Tree -2.5 stars Boy meets a predator at his local cinema. A slightly disjointed account of one boy's loss of innocence in his local movie theater. Not really horror, more of an account of one boy's sick encounter with a pedophile and the psychological repercussions. •Ten Minutes Forty Five Seconds- 2 stars A man afraid of heights is on a flight with his coworkers. This had some good writing and imagery, but overall left me wanting more. Too many unanswered questions and the convoluted technobabble was a miss. •The Power and The Passion-5 stars Human monster vs. supernatural monster. Excellent writing, unapologetic, vivid imagery, and an awesome character study of a total psychopath. Might just be my favorite story of the collection. •The Phone Woman- 2.5 stars When a crazy person asks to use the phone, weirdness ensues. This tried too hard to be a deep and philosophical study on modernity and the suburban lifestyle's effects on the human condition. However, it was a pretty decent portrait of one man's sexual and homicidal deviance being awakened. •Teratisms-1 star Have no idea what this was actually about as the writing was virtually unreadable. Just skip this one! •Chattery Teeth-1 star A hitchhiker's nefarious plans are interrupted by a deranged set of toy teeth. Boring, blah storytelling. Not scary at all or creepy in the least. Just kind of laughable really. •A Little Night Music-3 stars An original and musical take on Zombie lore. An oddly unique story about transformation and what it means to be dead inside. •Calcutta, Lord of Nerves- 3.5 stars A young woman worships a goddess in a zombie infested Calcutta. Really interesting story, with visceral horrifying imagery and a mythological slant on zombies. The young female character was also a strong point to the story, being interesting in and of herself. •The Erl-King- 0 stars I just skimmed this one as I found it to be really boring. Fantasy just isn't for me and this was no exception. It just didn't grab me. •The Dog Park- 1 star A man searches for his missing dog at a dog park frequented by Hollywood types. Not sure if I just missed the point or if there wasn't one. The story was cut off prematurely, there was no horror anywhere, and it just kind of petered out. Good writing that went nowhere. •Rain Falls- 3 stars A man's encounter with violence in a pub may be more dangerous then he expected. I liked this one quite a bit. It had an excellent build up and a supernatural twist which I'm learning that I like in my horror. •Refrigerator Heaven- 4 stars A refrigerator becomes one man's path to enlightenment. Really really like this one! A claustrophobic and imagery laden story about being pushed to your limits and the horrifying things humans do to one another. •———— - 2 stars A girl's trip to visit her wealthy family turns into a disturbing experience that will haunt her into adulthood. An intriguing exercise in exploring memory and the fallibility of our minds, but a little too vague to actually be horrifying or shocking. An interesting writing device in the form of a black rectangle is used to represent lost or blocked memories, but even that wasn't as effective as it could have been. •Eaten- 2 stars A brother looking for his sister gets more than he bargained for in this poem style depiction of scenes from a pornographic horror movie. What a bizarre story. Weirdly sexual and dark, this was unexpected from what I've read of Gaiman's other works. I think this would have been better had the style been less gimmicky and more straightforward, as the format seemed to limit the amount of details, which I think the story needed to be more effectively horrifying. •The Specialist's Hat- 3 stars Twin girls move into a haunted house with their father after their mother passes and creepiness ensues. Really good atmospheric writing and an all around interesting addition to the gothic haunted house genre. I wish there was a little less ambiguousness, but it was still pretty creepy. Love the descriptions of the old mansion. •The Tree is my Hat- 1 star A man travels to an island where his life and local mythology begin to meld. What a stupid and pointless story. I hated the writing style, it was full of wooden and stilted characters, silly asides, and purposefully vague nonsense. There was no real explanation of the magic/mythology and the story itself was just ridiculous. Not scary or tension filled in the least and the "poignant" ending was anything but, because at that point who cares. I have no idea how anyone could think this story was worth putting in a collection like this. • Heat- 2.5 stars A grief stricken mother hallucinates and becomes obsessed with fire. I liked this story but did not find anything significantly interesting about it or particularly horrifying. Instead it was a slow (pardon the pun) burn about one woman's attempts to deal with tragedy and the toll it's taken on her psyche. •No Strings- 1 star Radio host finds himself the victim of mimicking monsters after a late night in the studio. Boring, not well plotted and frankly a waste of time. Not scary or even suspenseful and the ending felt rushed and like it came out of no where. •Stitch-2.5 stars A woman is obsessed with the embroidered picture in the upstairs bathroom. While somewhat suspenseful and interesting, I was looking for more. More intrigue, more sinisterness, more fear, more everything really. While the story boasts a nice twist, I didn't care enough about the characters for it to be impactful or horrifying. Just another ok selection in this collection. •Dancing Men- 1 star A boy visits his dying Grandfather who lived through the Holocaust. Didn't like this one either. Boring and not interesting at all. Way to mystical and not scary in the least. •My Father's Mask- 3 stars A boy is taken on vacation with his parents to a cabin in the woods, when things take weird turn, his parents are acting bizarrely, strange people are hanging around and masks clutter the interior of the cabin. I enjoyed this story. It was well written, mysterious, intriguing, and magical without being ridiculous. The parents' disturbing behavior and oddness gave the story tension and the mother was just weird. While I wish there had been more clarity about what was going on, it made sense that the story left me with questions as it was told from the POV of the young son, who also didn't have a clue.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robb Bridson

    It's what you expect from a horror anthology: a few good stories, a few decent stories, a few boring stories. Some of them I had already (the Joe Hill story is in 20th Century Ghosts; the Clive Barker story is in Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3). My personal favorites from this collection are the Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Elizabeth Hand, and Gene Wolfe stories; I didn't care for the Peter Straub and Neil Gaiman stories. It's what you expect from a horror anthology: a few good stories, a few decent stories, a few boring stories. Some of them I had already (the Joe Hill story is in 20th Century Ghosts; the Clive Barker story is in Books of Blood, Vols. 1-3). My personal favorites from this collection are the Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Elizabeth Hand, and Gene Wolfe stories; I didn't care for the Peter Straub and Neil Gaiman stories.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joel Nichols

    varied anthology that's pretty readable right through and with a few gems. I really liked the ones from Edward Bryant, a really queer take on alien invasion, and Poppy Z. Brite's, which was traditional zombies in Calcutta. The Dan Simmons one is interesting but instantly forgettable. There's probably stories you've already read though, like the (still excellent) stuff from Kelly Link, Joyce Carol Oats, Stephen King, etc. The last story in this one is from Joe Hill, and is vivid, uncanny and cree varied anthology that's pretty readable right through and with a few gems. I really liked the ones from Edward Bryant, a really queer take on alien invasion, and Poppy Z. Brite's, which was traditional zombies in Calcutta. The Dan Simmons one is interesting but instantly forgettable. There's probably stories you've already read though, like the (still excellent) stuff from Kelly Link, Joyce Carol Oats, Stephen King, etc. The last story in this one is from Joe Hill, and is vivid, uncanny and creepy and seductively convincing all at once. (It's the first time I've read any Hill and I liked it.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kasandra

    A decent collection of horror, though a couple of the stories were so boring I couldn't get through them. A very dark and grotesquely sexual story by Neil Gaiman was a surprise, in the form of a screenplay/prose poem, no less. A good one by Clive Barker, a very upsetting story by Peter Straub that I'd already read, a fantastic one by Pat Cadigan whom I'd never heard of before, something typical but fun from Stephen King, and a dreamily sick piece by Joyce Carol Oates which was worth going throug A decent collection of horror, though a couple of the stories were so boring I couldn't get through them. A very dark and grotesquely sexual story by Neil Gaiman was a surprise, in the form of a screenplay/prose poem, no less. A good one by Clive Barker, a very upsetting story by Peter Straub that I'd already read, a fantastic one by Pat Cadigan whom I'd never heard of before, something typical but fun from Stephen King, and a dreamily sick piece by Joyce Carol Oates which was worth going through the book to get to.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Esther King

    A solid collection of some choice pieces of horror fiction. I was delighted to find some old favourites such as Stephen King and Joe Hill, along with a plethora of new authors, some of whom I shall soon be actively seeking the works of. Not all these stories are directly terrifying either, a welcome change to many horror omnibuses. Many of these stories suggest a far more subtle and insidious fear. There's a few weak pieces, and perhaps some I would have not chosen (such as King's 'Chattery Teet A solid collection of some choice pieces of horror fiction. I was delighted to find some old favourites such as Stephen King and Joe Hill, along with a plethora of new authors, some of whom I shall soon be actively seeking the works of. Not all these stories are directly terrifying either, a welcome change to many horror omnibuses. Many of these stories suggest a far more subtle and insidious fear. There's a few weak pieces, and perhaps some I would have not chosen (such as King's 'Chattery Teeth'), but for the most part, a wholly enjoyable volume.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    As she has done consistently for decades, Ellen Datlow has here assembled another anthology of fantasy/horror/specualtive fiction as diverse in quality as it is in genre and theme. I obtained my overall 3-star rating by ranking each story individually then dividing the total score by the number of stories (25) in the collection. The average is 2.76, and since Goodreads doesn't allow partial star ratings, I rounded up to 3. Here's my ratings breakdown by number of stars: 1: "Eaten (Scenes from a Mo As she has done consistently for decades, Ellen Datlow has here assembled another anthology of fantasy/horror/specualtive fiction as diverse in quality as it is in genre and theme. I obtained my overall 3-star rating by ranking each story individually then dividing the total score by the number of stories (25) in the collection. The average is 2.76, and since Goodreads doesn't allow partial star ratings, I rounded up to 3. Here's my ratings breakdown by number of stars: 1: "Eaten (Scenes from a Moving Picture" by Neil Gaiman. 2: "Dancing Chickens" by Edward Bryant; "The Greater Festival of Masks" by Thomas Ligotti; "The Pear-Shaped Man" by George R. R. Martin; "The Juniper Tree" by Peter Straub; "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" by Poppy Z. Brite; "The Dog Park" by Dennis Etchison; "Rain Falls" by Michael Marshall Smith; "The Specialist's Hat" by Kelly Link; "No Strings" by Ramsey Campbell. 3: "Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds" by Dan Simmons; "The Phone Woman" by Joe R. Lansdale; "Teratisms" by Kathe Koja; "A Little Night Music" by Lucius Shepard; "The Erl-King" by Elizabeth Hand; "___" by Joyce Carol Oates; "The Tree is My Hat" by Gene Wolfe; "Heat" by Steve Rasnic Tem; "Stitch" by Terry Dowling; "Dancing Men" by Glen Hirshberg; "My Father's Mask" by Joe Hill. 4: "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament" by Clive Barker; "The Power and the Passion" by Pat Cadigan; "Refrigerator Heaven" by David J. Schow. 5: "Chattery Teeth" by Stephen King. A few details about Darkness surprised me and are worthy of comment. Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I was caught off guard by how much I disliked his entry here. I'm not a prude by any means, but his story is just so full of unnecessarily gratuitous sex & violence that I couldn't even read the whole thing. I didn't get the point of it. Clive Barker's story, in light of the current #MeToo moment, is ahead of its time. Its ending was unsatisfying, but it offers a strikingly empowered and powerful female protagonist. And considering the recent revelations about the likely causes of the problems with Boeing's 737 Max airplane, Dan Simmons' offering is highly prophetic. One thing about Darkness didn't surprise me. Stephen King, my favorite since childhood, wrote the only story here I loved enough to give 5 stars. All in all, Darkness is a decent collection worth your time if you're a fan of horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction. Datlow also provides the names of the various publications in which the stories collected here first appeared, which is a handy resource for aspiring writers looking for publishers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Carter

    Chilling. Repulsive. Abhorrent. Dreadful. Disturbing. None of it is scary or frightening but yes, all of it is horrific. Each and every offering is in its own, unique way horrifying, offering a vignette – or a revelation – of the macabre intruding, coalescing into the mundane world. Are you a dog person? Do you like trinkets and brick-a-brack? Are you comfortable in your routine? Do you think that you have a special insight into something sacred? Do you trust or distrust your government? Your lo Chilling. Repulsive. Abhorrent. Dreadful. Disturbing. None of it is scary or frightening but yes, all of it is horrific. Each and every offering is in its own, unique way horrifying, offering a vignette – or a revelation – of the macabre intruding, coalescing into the mundane world. Are you a dog person? Do you like trinkets and brick-a-brack? Are you comfortable in your routine? Do you think that you have a special insight into something sacred? Do you trust or distrust your government? Your loved ones? Yourself? This volume is a nearly ideal sampler for anyone wanting to get into the genre, get out of the everyday or just to poke at the edges of their own self and find out what they feel before, during and after. Some pieces took a little more thought. Some I don’t want to think about at all. But I keep thinking. Some… just made me wonder if I missed something then again, I kept thinking about what I did see.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Therese

    So I'm a huge horror fan, and while a couple stories were decent, there were too many that just did nothing for me. I ended up stopping about halfway through because I lost interest mainly due to being upset about a couple of the stories being uncomfortably and disturbingly sexual; simply having content that is gross to read in my opinion doesn't really count as good horror. The good stuff messes with your mind in a cool psychological kind of way, like what "The Pear Shaped Man" did, but out of So I'm a huge horror fan, and while a couple stories were decent, there were too many that just did nothing for me. I ended up stopping about halfway through because I lost interest mainly due to being upset about a couple of the stories being uncomfortably and disturbingly sexual; simply having content that is gross to read in my opinion doesn't really count as good horror. The good stuff messes with your mind in a cool psychological kind of way, like what "The Pear Shaped Man" did, but out of all the stories I read, that was the only one I really liked.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jay McCue

    3.5 stars. The collection was a little uneven. Clive Barker, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin had some interesting stories. A few others felt a little flat. Steve Rasnic Tem's "Heat" was also mildy intriguing for me. 3.5 stars. The collection was a little uneven. Clive Barker, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin had some interesting stories. A few others felt a little flat. Steve Rasnic Tem's "Heat" was also mildy intriguing for me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Valter Moreno

    Not what you expect I expected a lot more o horror than I found in the stories that make up this collection. Even so, it was a pleasant reading. Joe Hill's story was the best one for me and worth the whole book. Not what you expect I expected a lot more o horror than I found in the stories that make up this collection. Even so, it was a pleasant reading. Joe Hill's story was the best one for me and worth the whole book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Solid collection, but a bit long.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Micky Parise

    Very disappointed in this book. Only kept reading it to see if there was any good story that would save it. None.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Danny Seipel

    Some good stories, some just plain bad. Leans a little too heavily towards the bad. Gave up begore the halfway mark.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian Krause

    There were some good ones in here but I didn't love all of them. There were some good ones in here but I didn't love all of them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gaston

    A good book to read to get a good cross section of horror withers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam Winkler

    Overall, a pretty good collection. Getting my reviews in was such a pain, I felt so lazy. I ended up reading most of them twice. Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament by Clive Barker was interesting. Dancing Chickens by Edward Bryant was horrifying. I've read it before, and it's just a true horror story. The Greater Festival of Masks by Thomas Ligotti is a good story, I like it. The Pear-Shaped Man by George R. R. Martin is interesting and a fun horror story. The Juniper Tree by Peter Straub wa Overall, a pretty good collection. Getting my reviews in was such a pain, I felt so lazy. I ended up reading most of them twice. Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament by Clive Barker was interesting. Dancing Chickens by Edward Bryant was horrifying. I've read it before, and it's just a true horror story. The Greater Festival of Masks by Thomas Ligotti is a good story, I like it. The Pear-Shaped Man by George R. R. Martin is interesting and a fun horror story. The Juniper Tree by Peter Straub was pretty unpleasant and scary, but I wouldn't really think of it as a horror story. Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds by Dan Simmons was sad and kind of unpleasant. The Power and the Passion by Pat Cadigan was wonderful. I enjoyed this one immensely. The Phone Woman by Joe R. Lansdale was ok? It felt kinda overwritten to me. Teratisms by Kathe Kola was kind of unpleasant. Chattery Teeth by Stephen King is one that I've read too many times to reread it now. A Little Night Music by Lucius Shepard was lovely. Calcutta, Lord of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite was a bit confusing for me. The Erl-King by Elizabeth Hand was a good story, overall. The Dog Park by Dennis Etchison was one I really didn't get. Rain Falls by Michael Marshall Smith was interesting. Refrigerator Heaven by David J. Schow was really interesting and brutal. I don't think I understood it the first time through, the second time was just lovely. Joyce Carol Oates - I don't think this one has a title? This one was kind of unpleasant. Why do people think sexual assault is horror? Using sexual assault for horror cheapens sexual assault from a legitimate social issue to a fictionalized problem in a story. It makes me angry. As a side note, you should read "Rape Joke" by Patrica Lockwood. That's a poem, and that does it well. Eaten (Scenes from a Moving Picture) by Neil Gaiman - It's written as a screenplay, those are always hard to deal with. The Specialist's Hat by Kelly Link is a very scary story. And good too. The Tree is My Hat by Gene Wolfe was interesting the first time through. I couldn't bear to read it the second time, I'm not sure why. Heat by Steve Rasnic Tem was interesting. No Strings by Ramsey Campbell was very lovely. Stitch by Terry Dowling was also really very good. Dancing Men by Glen Hirshberg was kind of strange. I think it's a good story, but it was really kind of weird. My Father's Mask by Joe Hill was really weird.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ebenmaessiger

    "Jacqueline Ess: Her Last Will and Testament," by Clive Barker (1984): 6.75 - really out of my depth here, but apart from some arresting juxtapositions, seemed like a muddled faux-femmy narration of an otherwise straightforward woman as succubus story, albeit crudely glazed in some Reagan-Thatcher-era money culture bromides and assumptions (i.e. Where power resides). As for horror elements, largely predicated upon explicitness and gore, with no real dread built up, other than a kind of grimy di "Jacqueline Ess: Her Last Will and Testament," by Clive Barker (1984): 6.75 - really out of my depth here, but apart from some arresting juxtapositions, seemed like a muddled faux-femmy narration of an otherwise straightforward woman as succubus story, albeit crudely glazed in some Reagan-Thatcher-era money culture bromides and assumptions (i.e. Where power resides). As for horror elements, largely predicated upon explicitness and gore, with no real dread built up, other than a kind of grimy distaste, although who knows how intentional by Barker or welcome to even the horror reader. The ponderousness regarding obsession, as well, was neither that well established nor insightful. So, why 6.75? I guess that distaste amounted to something nonetheless. "Dancing Chickens," by Edward Bryant (1984): 8 - quite effective emotionally for me, and not simply because I wasn't expecting the genuine deep-dive into 80s homosexual subcultures, which was done with a skill that must betoken familiarity. And that snippet in the bio was ending shocks. Well, not so much in that it was a 'twist' but that it reframed the story philosophically quite successfully "The Greater Festival of Masks," by Thomas Ligotti (1985): 7.25 - Sadly for Mr. Ligotti, I didn’t happen to read this at the best time for meandering, stuffy, allusive horror. And boy wasn’t it all of those things. “The Pear-Shaped Man,” by George R. R. Martin (1987): 8.25 - Oh, the sublimations. They’re there — the masculine self-loathing; the power game pirouette of sexuality (male and female); the daily threat of going through life a woman — and they’re nicely still less than the main horror thrust of the story, the ineluctable momentum of the Jesse’s compulsion and the sticky corporeality of it all. Effective. STORY: girl in new apartment revolted by portly neighbor, until strangely drawn to him, and until he takes over her role (this giving her his — as well as his gender, as seen in a nice bit of writing at the end, ie the gradual dying out of the feminine pronoun in our description of the pear-shaped man, and thus the death of her own subjectivity).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shel

    I like to joke that since my last name is Graves, if I am unable to publish my utopian, sf, or fantasy novels I will eventually switch over to horror and achieve success. The first step: Read horror. I have a long way to go, however. This anthology quickly reminded me why I haven't read much horror since my Stephen King phase in high school, which ended abruptly with The Tommyknockers (1987) (in his excellent book On Writing, perhaps not coincidently, King says Tommyknockers was written at the he I like to joke that since my last name is Graves, if I am unable to publish my utopian, sf, or fantasy novels I will eventually switch over to horror and achieve success. The first step: Read horror. I have a long way to go, however. This anthology quickly reminded me why I haven't read much horror since my Stephen King phase in high school, which ended abruptly with The Tommyknockers (1987) (in his excellent book On Writing, perhaps not coincidently, King says Tommyknockers was written at the height of his drug addiction). I found it too disturbing. I am a horror lightweight. I was disturbed by the first story in Darkness, Clive Barker's "Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament," took a long break before returning to the anthology, made it as far as George R.R. Martin's "The Pear-Shaped Man," was deeply disturbed again, and am on hiatus from the book. Reading horror, empathy becomes a serious flaw (this could be me!!). I can't turn out the lights at night. These psychological horror stories sink deep and do their job — horrify! Pairs well with: Joyce Carol Oates' Zombie. Oates' masterful prose whipped me through this novel slice 'n dice in one night, and I am now working to push it to the dark recesses of my mind to be "forgotten" along with "The Pear-Shaped Man". Wish me luck! Alas, I'll have to keep on with fantasy for now and return to "Darkness" at a later date. Wuss!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Cushing

    This anthology compiles a fairly broad array of short horror fiction published from 1984-2005. It's a valuable resource for the newer horror author (or, for that matter, anyone who loves the genre) to use to get the "lay of the land" of recent developments in the field. I found Glen Hirshberg's novella "Dancing Men" to be the strongest piece in the book, but also enjoyed George R.R. Martin's "The Pear-Shaped Man," Joe R. Lansdale's "The Phone Woman," Poppy Z. Brite's "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves," a This anthology compiles a fairly broad array of short horror fiction published from 1984-2005. It's a valuable resource for the newer horror author (or, for that matter, anyone who loves the genre) to use to get the "lay of the land" of recent developments in the field. I found Glen Hirshberg's novella "Dancing Men" to be the strongest piece in the book, but also enjoyed George R.R. Martin's "The Pear-Shaped Man," Joe R. Lansdale's "The Phone Woman," Poppy Z. Brite's "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves," and David J. Schow's "Refrigerator Heaven". The only story that felt as though it didn't belong was Stephen King's "Chattery Teeth", a tale that (to me) read like the script from a sub-par episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT. It just wasn't in the same league as the rest of the stories. I understand King's influence is substantial (especially given the time period on which Datlow focuses), but I couldn't shake the suspicion that he's produced better short work than this. The Stephen King and Clive Barker contributions aside, the focus in this anthology really is on quiet horror that shoots for "disturbing" rather than "revolting". In this way, DARKNESS (along with Gary Braunbeck's TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS) has had a significant influence on my writing. More and more, I find myself attracted to the possibilities of a quiet, dread-inducing approach. Thanks to Tachyon for once again publishing a cool book at an affordable price.

  23. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    Lots of good short horror, although (probably due to the nature of two decades of the best of the best, which has spread downstream in an imitable fashion) nothing really surprising. I'd read more of these than I expected. Highlights in a collection of highlights: Dancing Chicken - Edward Bryant. I...don't want to spoil it. In any fashion. The Pear-Shaped Man - George R.R. Martin. I felt like hugging people after this. I *dare* you... Teratisms, by Kathe Koja. Had to read this three times. Chattery Lots of good short horror, although (probably due to the nature of two decades of the best of the best, which has spread downstream in an imitable fashion) nothing really surprising. I'd read more of these than I expected. Highlights in a collection of highlights: Dancing Chicken - Edward Bryant. I...don't want to spoil it. In any fashion. The Pear-Shaped Man - George R.R. Martin. I felt like hugging people after this. I *dare* you... Teratisms, by Kathe Koja. Had to read this three times. Chattery Teeth - Stephen King. I don't know how, but I'd missed this one previously. My Father's Mask - Joe Hill. Another I-won't-say-because-spoilers story, but one of the finer (obscure) examples of a type of story that I've read. I will say it's almost Wolfian. Flow: Some neat bridges between stories. I had forgotten the story order, and had to laugh when "The Tree is My Hat" followed "The Specialist's Hat," because during "The Specialist's Hat," I kept going, "That word 'hat.' I'll never be able to read the word 'hat' in the title without thinking of..." And there it was. Also the thematic bridges between "No Strings" through "My Father's Mask" were particularly moving. Watch for threads, strings, inheritances.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tlingit

    This collection of horror stories had some good ones in it but not many. There are many well known authors in it who write horror. It kept me occupied but to tell you the truth I don't remember one of the stories in here and I just finished reading it. Maybe "_______" by Joyce Carol Oates but it seemed unfinished in a way. Most of these stories to me seemed to be leftover works that just never made it into anything else so TA DAAA! they made it into a "compendium" of horror. I have read worse bu This collection of horror stories had some good ones in it but not many. There are many well known authors in it who write horror. It kept me occupied but to tell you the truth I don't remember one of the stories in here and I just finished reading it. Maybe "_______" by Joyce Carol Oates but it seemed unfinished in a way. Most of these stories to me seemed to be leftover works that just never made it into anything else so TA DAAA! they made it into a "compendium" of horror. I have read worse but I have also read better.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Syd Dickson

    There were so many deliciously creepy stories in here that I always felt let down when there was one I didn't like. But there are always going to be a few stories you don't like in a collection like this. There was one in particular that really bothered me because I felt like it didn't fit in with the rest, nothing supernatural or suspenseful, it was just sort of depressing. There are a few that really stuck with me, my brain can't stop thinking about them even though I was a little disgusted wh There were so many deliciously creepy stories in here that I always felt let down when there was one I didn't like. But there are always going to be a few stories you don't like in a collection like this. There was one in particular that really bothered me because I felt like it didn't fit in with the rest, nothing supernatural or suspenseful, it was just sort of depressing. There are a few that really stuck with me, my brain can't stop thinking about them even though I was a little disgusted when I read them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna Gaffey

    Some good stuff in here. My favorites: "No Strings" (Ramsey Campbell), "The Erl King" (Elizabeth Hand), "The Specialist’s Hat" (Kelly Link), "The Tree is My Hat" (Gene Wolfe), and "My Father’s Mask" (Joe Hill). I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin and Stephen King's contributions. Pat Cadigan was new to me, and her story "The Power and the Passion" took me aback while reading -- was a wonderful, shocking delight to read. I look forward to reading more of her work. One of the better horror antholog Some good stuff in here. My favorites: "No Strings" (Ramsey Campbell), "The Erl King" (Elizabeth Hand), "The Specialist’s Hat" (Kelly Link), "The Tree is My Hat" (Gene Wolfe), and "My Father’s Mask" (Joe Hill). I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin and Stephen King's contributions. Pat Cadigan was new to me, and her story "The Power and the Passion" took me aback while reading -- was a wonderful, shocking delight to read. I look forward to reading more of her work. One of the better horror anthologies I've read lately.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Metagion

    I had read this book years ago, and I'd forgotten about how good it was! Most of the tales are psychological in tone, but stories from Stephen King, Steve Rasnic Tem, Joe Hill and others will have you thinking for days to come! A "must read" if you like subtle horror and a "different" type of storytelling. I had read this book years ago, and I'd forgotten about how good it was! Most of the tales are psychological in tone, but stories from Stephen King, Steve Rasnic Tem, Joe Hill and others will have you thinking for days to come! A "must read" if you like subtle horror and a "different" type of storytelling.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Santosh Bhat

    Some of the short stories in this anthology are really scary, while others start out promisingly but bail out on us due to mediocre endings. Some of them plain don't make sense and those were the ones which caused me to stop reading midway and pick up something else. This is why it took me 6 months to finish the book. Some of the short stories in this anthology are really scary, while others start out promisingly but bail out on us due to mediocre endings. Some of them plain don't make sense and those were the ones which caused me to stop reading midway and pick up something else. This is why it took me 6 months to finish the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Ronholm

    An interesting collection of short stories - some by authors I knew, and others that were new to me. Like most short story collections there are stories with completely concrete [and satisfying] endings and others leaving you wondering about what really happened in the story. If you don't like stories with less obvious endings, you might want to give this collection a pass. An interesting collection of short stories - some by authors I knew, and others that were new to me. Like most short story collections there are stories with completely concrete [and satisfying] endings and others leaving you wondering about what really happened in the story. If you don't like stories with less obvious endings, you might want to give this collection a pass.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A bit of a mixed bag, I noticed that those authors introduced as masters of the horror genre did not necessarily delivers the chills the way authors known for other types of writing did. That's ok, because I did finally discover Clive Barker (been a horror fan forever and finally read something by him!) and was verified on the mastery of Thomas Ligotti. A bit of a mixed bag, I noticed that those authors introduced as masters of the horror genre did not necessarily delivers the chills the way authors known for other types of writing did. That's ok, because I did finally discover Clive Barker (been a horror fan forever and finally read something by him!) and was verified on the mastery of Thomas Ligotti.

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