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BEST NEW HORROR 2 by Stephen Jones

BEST NEW HORROR 2

By Stephen Jones (Author) , Ramsey Campbell (Editor)

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-88184-736-4

 First-rate and generous second entry (Best New Horror, 1990) in what is now clearly the finest horror annual available, distinguished by the editors' literate tastes and vast knowledge of the field. Leading horror-critic Jones and horror-novelist Campbell (Midnight Sun, 1991, etc.) are British, but the 28 stories here are transatlantic in origin--though the emphasis, more than in the first volume, is on traditional horror (Campbell's forte), with only a smattering of splatterpunk. Still, what's here--drawn from magazines well known (and not) as well as from some anthologies--is almost uniformly excellent. After a brisk rundown by the editors of 1990 horror literature, films, and awards, the stories kick off with, ironically, the goriest of the lot--K.W. Jeter's ``The First Time,'' a frightful tale of a young man's introduction to Tijuana sex, vampire-style. The grim note struck by Jeter soon repeats itself in Elizabeth Massie's wholly original ``Stephen,'' wherein a woman falls in piteous lust with a severed head. More upbeat--and a most promising story debut--is Michael Marshall Smith's ``The Man Who Drew Cats,'' about a sidewalk artist whose magic drawings elicit an unusually satisfying vengeance. The longest, most accomplished tale here soon follows: Thomas Ligotti's ``The Last Feast of Harlequin,'' a brilliant Poe/Lovecraft homage. Sardonic comic relief is provided by Gahan Wilson (``Mister Ice Cold,'' about an evil ice-cream vendor) and F. Paul Wilson (the full- throttle anti-fur parable ``Pelts''), with other outstanding tales from Elizabeth Hand, J.L. Comeau, Poppy Z. Brite, Peter Straub, Ian R. MacLeod, and Kim Newman, who also contributed to the extensive ``Necrology'' that closes the volume. Not quite as wide-ranging as the first volume (with the incomparably fierce Joe R. Lansdale notably missing, for example)- -but, still, a must for any serious horror collection.