The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, part 3

The Bone Carver’s Tale – Jeff Vandermeer
A guy spends his time carving things out of bones that wash up on the beach near his home, which is made out of a dead whale. I found myself thinking of an episode of Ren and Stimpy (“Big Kahuna” I think) and continued on with the story. So, a young woman comes to meet him, she is the best something-or-other instrument player in the area and plays a song for him about love and all that cheesey stuff. Unfortunately, the bone carver does not find her attractive enough, tells her so, so she retaliates by stating he is ugly and doesn’t know anything.

The musician leaves and becomes even more famous for her woeful songs about broken hearts, she ends up being murdered during some sort of rebellion attack (when I read this, I thought of Star Wars). So, the guy doesn’t care until the moon begins to tell him over and over to go to the city where the musician died, so he succumbs and does so. The story was interesting and read more like something you’d find in a YA book of scary stories, like Tales for the Midnight Hour or Darkness Creeping, etc. It was much better than some of the other stories that I read in here.

Queen of Knives – Neil Gaiman
A weird, bizarre poem about a young man being taken to a magician’s show by his grandparents. The magician picks the grandmother to do a trick and makes her disappear, after the show, she never reappears and the magician pretends that he does not understand English and the grandfather is pretty much ruined. If you really like Gaiman’s work, this is awesome, but I thought it was really fucking weird.  Maybe it’s just me, I really don’t know.

The True History of Doctor Parnassus – Paul J McAuley
A journalist threatens his way into speaking with an old guy to find “the truth” about him. This is a…mindboggling boring fucking story. It’s just references to classic horror authors/characters that made it worth-while to read through. It was pretty awesome for the intensely obscure shout-out for Lovecraft. Though, the idea of the recreation of man-like creatures is always neat. But I think it would’ve done wonderfully if the author did more with the man-like creatures than brief mentionings.

The Grey Madonna – Graham Mastertron
A gentleman visits the town in which his wife was killed by a mysterious nun. He pays a couple hundred francs to the guy who gave a witness statement and finds that the locals have this bizarre belief that the statuary has the potential to come to “life” as it were and things will happen. The statues are made of hope, good and evil, and things just tend to happen.

The guy believes that the witness to his wife’s murder has mental problems and goes into a cafe to stew about it. Then he sees a nun, dressed in the same colour habit as the one who was last seen speaking with his wife, and goes after her. He follows her to the top of a tower and finds that she’s a walking stone statue, the same one who killed his wife. Fascinating! So, it was a pretty neat story and it was really neat to read about the anthropomorphization of a stone statue that kills people for doing things they find morally wrong. I liked it and found it to be one of the better stories in the anthology.

Loop – Douglas E Winter
It’s a porn story. It’s a story about a guy who spends his life obsessing over a girl who rises to porn-star fame up and past her untimely death. Really? Why the hell is this story in here? The only thing “horror” related things that are in this is the grossly mundane activities that this guy does at a Sisyphusian level, the porn-girl gets shot and the breif scene where they describe the grainy autopsy video. I read it in hopes of something happening, but all I read was a porno story. If I wanted that, I could’ve just read fanfiction.

The Hunger and Ecstacy of Vampires – Brian Stableford
Turn of the Century London where a bunch of gentleman, Ocar Wilde included, gather around to listen to some guy tell his drug-induced ride to the future where  vampires are the rulers of the world and man is cattle. The second is where he’s in an alternate reality where satyrs and centaurian like creatures run around. I stopped by this point; the story was just terribly boring. I counted to see how many pages I had left and it was 40. I wasn’t interested in it enough to continue with the remaining pages.

I was also continuously thrown off because when the characters spoke, they use “Dr W*****.” What the hell am I supposed to think with this? “Dr W”? “Dr W-star-star-star-star-star”? “Dr W-asterick-asterick-asterick-asterick-asterick”? “Dr Wasterick?” Jamie pointed out that the author could’ve been emulating Poe, who used “—–” with names, but I can totally see that in verbalization, I can’t see “*****” .

Lacuna – Nicholas Royle
It’s a scene about some guy who just wakes up in the middle of the night. I read it and went “what the fuck?” It’s a snippet, a half thought piece that would sound really nice as a longer short story or a novel. But hey, the notation at the beginning: it’s a scene in a novel. Let it stay there.

And the book ends with a Necrology, a wave out to the writers who had passed the year before, which is pretty neat. But, overall, this was a disappointing book. It is, however, the very first “Best New Horror” and I’ve got to cut it some slack. And, I am so used to Mammoth books being awesome with maybe one or two stories being not so great that this was a really big disappointment.

Oh well, we have it, so we’re going to keep it. I’m glad I’m done reading the book and am happy to be on something else (as of writing this particular post, I am reading “Superstitious” by RL Stine, not including the 20 or so books that I have started and have not finished yet. I’m also thinking about cracking open “That Good Old Cape Magic” or a YA novel called “Madapple“)

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3 thoughts on “The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, part 3

    • I guess I am real since I just got nibbled on by needle-puppy teeth. If you’d like to tweet something about this, you’re welcome to. Also: apologies, apparently all comments were stuck in the spam filter and I had no idea Oo;

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