Book Review: Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2006

Year's Best 2006I was a little leery of picking up another anthology of Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, especially after the 2004 stinker I read in October. But when I saw the 2006 collection at the library, I had to pick it up. It’s the most up-to-date version I’ve read.

I was pleased to see that the stories in this book were more palatable and not laden with swear words in nearly every story. There was also a good balance of fantasy and horror. I was also surprised to see that there weren’t many famous authors like Peter Straub or Neil Gaiman in this book: Charles de Lint did an essay on Music in 2005 and China Mieville collaborated with two other people on a story. But I only recognized a couple of authors in this book from previous collections, so I like how this is mostly featuring up and coming authors. Stories that stood out to me most:

The Mushroom Duchess by Deborah Roggie: A fairy tale on a duchess who uses mushrooms to keep her family in line.

Kronia by Elizabeth Hand: beautiful fractured tale that deals with alternate worlds.

Boatman’s Holiday by Jeffrey Ford: Even the Dealer of Death needs to take a vacation

The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai by Geoff Ryman: A folktale set in a mythical Asia

The Ball Room by China Mieville, Emma Bircham and Max Schafer: One of my favorites…after reading this, I think twice about taking my son to any place that have those ball pits. Especially places that shall remained nameless but sell cheap Swedish furniture.

Cruel Sistah by Nisi Shawl: The story I mentioned by an African-American woman in a previous blog post. Creepy. I may be the oldest sister in my family, but at least I haven’t tried to kill my sisters (at least…not to my knowledge…)

My Father’s Mask by Joe Hill: This story, by far, freaked me out the most. He could have taken a more darker, gorier direction with this story about family who goes up to a campsite around Halloween, but the fact he doesn’t is akin to someone holding a finger right above your eye. “Does this bother you? Does it? Does it?” Brrrr….

The Guggenheim Lovers by Isabel Allende: The fact that this followed My Father’s Mask made for a sweet read. After being completely freaked out, it was nice to have something fun and light. Made me want to travel to the Guggenheim myself, see if I can slip in afterhours with my hubby and see if I get transported to a different place, too.

So I had fun with this anthology. It didn’t have me cowering under my bed, sucking my thumb, but it made me believe that one day, maybe I will have a story in that collection. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading the collections. This book gets four masks out of five. And if you happen to be in a Swedish furniture superstore over by the kid’s section, and your older sister (who in fact is your mother) offers to play cards with you in the ball room with a kid wearing a plastic mask…run. Just run.

Edit: I just learned of a website that interviewed Ellen Datlow, who edits the Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies. Very interesting interview. You can find it at the Writer’s Group blog.