Eighth in the impressive Best New Horror anthologies and again an outstanding collection, not to be missed by connoisseurs of chopped fingers and chilled blood. The indefatigable Jones (editor of some 40 anthologies) offers a sparkling overview of the horror fiction of 1996 and includes much information essential to writers of the genre--and to readers- -such as a compendium of useful addresses for organizations, magazines, book dealers, and market information. Jones teams up with Kim Newman to assemble a requiem for horror folks who have gone to that big Necronomicom in the sky and are presumably getting the complexities of the Cthulhu Mythos explained by the Master (Lovecraft) himself. This necrology and Jones's introduction alone are worth the price of the book. Back in harness, meantime, are standout stylists Poppy Z. Brite (``Mussolini and the Axeman's Jazz''), whose brilliantly inventive bloody prose drives a tale concerning the wraith of Archduke Ferdinand--a wraith that's trying to murder the still animate magician Cagliostro in New Orleans, thus avoiding the rise of Mussolini, which Cagliostro is then planning; and Thomas Liggoti, whose ``Gas Station Carnivals'' celebrates Depression-era filling stations that offered their customers unsophisticated sideshow carnivals--suggesting that they were in fact a queasy and horrible peek-a-boo delusion of the abyss. The last story by the late Karl Edward Wagner, ``Final Cut,'' will have you agreeing with its narrator that ``no one ever gets well in a hospital.'' Also memorable is Terry Lamsley's ``Walking the Dog,'' about a pet-sitter who's caring for a large beast that's not quite a dog--and that has an indecent appetite for small children. Outstandingly well-told stories, a kind of subterranean mainstream art, that linger on your brain like Government Inspected Meat stamps.