Bring out the bone china—a critically acclaimed fantasy/horror annual celebrates its 20th anniversary in grand style.
At this point, readers of this annual anthology pretty much know what to expect from each fresh entry in the series. There’s a comprehensive summing-up of the cream of the previous year’s fantasy and horror in various types of media, followed by an enjoyable and occasionally surprising selection of stories and poems from both rising stars (Margo Lanagan, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Sarah Monette, M. Rickert) and established names (Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffrey Ford, Gene Wolfe, Delia Sherman). Highlights include Wilce’s delightful “The Lineaments of Gratified Desire” (How can you not love a story starring a four-year-old kidnapped princess nicknamed “Tiny Doom”?); Christopher Rowe’s chilling view of a fundamentalist future in “Another Word for Map Is Faith”; Nik Houser’s “First Kisses from Beyond the Grave,” a howlingly funny high-school-is-purgatory tale; Ellen Klages’s cozy love letter to devourers of the printed page, “In the House of the Seven Librarians”; and “The Night Whiskey,” Ford’s creepy, elegiac meditation on the suffocating nature and bizarre rituals of small-town life.
Worth a space on any bookshelf.