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A group of mountain climbers, caught in the dark, fights to survive their descent; An American band finds more than they bargained for in Mexico while scouting remote locations for a photo shoot; A young student’s exploration into the origins of a mysterious song leads him on a winding, dangerous path through the US’s deep south; A group of kids scaring each other with ghost stories discovers alarming consequences.


The Best Horror of the Year showcases the previous year’s best offerings in horror short fiction. This edition includes award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Mark Morris, Kaaron Warren, John Langan, Carole Johnstone, Brian Hodge, and others.


For more than three decades, award-winning editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow has had her finger on the pulse of the latest and most terrifying in horror writing. Night Shade Books is proud to present the tenth volume in this annual series, a new collection of stories to keep you up at night.





TABLE OF CONTENTS:


Introduction: Summation 2017—Ellen Datlow

Better You Believe—Carole Johnstone

Liquid Air—Inna Effress

Holiday Romance—Mark Morris

Furtherest—Kaaron Warren

Where’s the Harm?—Rebecca Lloyd

Whatever Comes After Calcutta—David Erik Nelson

A Human Stain—Kelly Robson

The Stories We Tell about Ghosts—A. C. Wise

Endoskeletal—Sarah Read

West of Matamoros, North of Hell—Brian Hodge

Alligator Point—S. P. Miskowski

Dark Warm Heart—Rich Larson

There and Back Again—Carmen Maria Machado

Shepherd’s Business—Stephen Gallagher

You Can Stay All Day—Mira Grant

Harvest Song, Gathering Song—A. C. Wise

The Granfalloon—Orrin Grey

Fail-Safe—Philip Fracassi

The Starry Crown—Marc E. Fitch

Eqalussuaq—Tim Major

Lost in the Dark—John Langan

Honorable Mentions

About the Authors

Acknowledgment of Copyright

About the Editor
Ghosts are among us. On the other side of death, the spirits of departed souls have been part of human myths and beliefs as long as anyone can recall. Some of the most powerful and affecting images in fiction are of ghosts, spirits, visitations from beyond the veil of death.
Ellen Datlow, an editor whose stellar career has garnered her World Fantasy Awards, a Stoker Award, and a Hugo Award, has long been fascinated by ghosts. Now she has brought together an array of all-new, original ghost stories for the shivering delight of readers who are ready to be frightened.
And that's no idle threat. These are not friendly ghost stories. This book is called The Dark because the editor asked her favorite authors specifically for stories that would provoke fear or disquietude, tales that would cause shivers down the spine and make readers want to keep a light on when they retire to bed for the night. The authors who answered her call compose an all-star cast of brilliant storytellers, including such award-winning, certifiably masterful authors as Ramsey Campbell, Jeffrey Ford, Charles L. Grant, Glen Hirshberg, Kathe Koja, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Sharyn McCrumb, Joyce Carol Oates, Lucius Shepard, and Gahan Wilson. Frighteningly good writers. Each has penned a unique tale unlike any of the others. All have cast dark spells that are sure to inspire fear or unease in the hardiest of readers.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

A dazzling anthology of avian-themed fiction guaranteed to frighten and delight, edited by one of the most acclaimed horror anthologists in the genre. Birds are usually loved for their beauty and their song. They symbolize freedom, eternal life, the soul.

There’s definitely a dark side to the avian. Birds of prey sometimes kill other birds (the shrike), destroy other birds’ eggs (blue jays), and even have been known to kill small animals (the kea sometimes eats live lambs). And who isn’t disgusted by birds that eat the dead—vultures awaiting their next meal as the life blood flows from the dying. One of our greatest fears is of being eaten by vultures before we’re quite dead.

Is it any wonder that with so many interpretations of the avian, that the contributors herein are eager to be transformed or influenced by them? Included in Black Feathers are those obsessed by birds of one type or another. Do they want to become birds or just take on some of the “power” of birds? The presence or absence of birds portends the future. A grieving widow takes comfort in her majestic winged neighbors, who enable her to cope with a predatory relative. An isolated society of women relies on a bird to tell their fortunes. A silent young girl and her pet bird might be the only hope a detective has of tracking down a serial killer in a tourist town. A chatty parrot makes illegal deals with the dying. A troubled man lives in isolation with only one friend for company—a jackdaw.

In each of these fictions, you will encounter the dark resonance between the human and avian. You see in yourself the savagery of a predator, the shrewd stalking of a hunter, and you are lured by birds that speak human language, that make beautiful music, that cypher numbers, and seem to have a moral center. You wade into this feathered nightmare, and brave the horror of death, trading your safety and sanity for that which we all seek—the promise of flight.
A New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller! Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci and including stories by Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and more, this one-of-a-kind anthology pulls together the most beloved characters from the best and most popular thriller series today. Worlds collide!

In an unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters—such as Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, and Lincoln Rhyme—in an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). All of the contributors to FaceOff are ITW members and the stories feature these dynamic duos:

· Patrick Kenzie vs. Harry Bosch in “Red Eye,” by Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly
· John Rebus vs. Roy Grace in “In the Nick of Time,” by Ian Rankin and Peter James
· Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs. Aloysius Pendergast in “Gaslighted,” by R.L. Stine, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child
· Malachai Samuels vs. D.D. Warren in “The Laughing Buddha,” by M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner
· Paul Madriani vs. Alexandra Cooper in “Surfing the Panther,” by Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein
· Lincoln Rhyme vs. Lucas Davenport in “Rhymes With Prey,” by Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford
· Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack in “Infernal Night,” by Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson
· Sean Reilly vs. Glen Garber in “Pit Stop,” by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay
· Wyatt Hunt vs. Joe Trona in “Silent Hunt,” by John Lescroart and T. Jefferson Parker
· Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce in “The Devil’s Bones,” by Steve Berry and James Rollins
· Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller in “Good and Valuable Consideration,” by Lee Child and Joseph Finder

So sit back and prepare for a rollicking ride as your favorite characters go head-to-head with some worthy opponents in FaceOff—it’s a thrill-a-minute read.
“Enchanting, witty” fairy tales for adults from Peter Straub, Daniel Quinn, Nancy Kress, Patricia C. Wrede, and other modern-day Grimms and Andersens (Publishers Weekly).

World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling return with another superb collection of wonders and terrors. In Black Thorn, White Rose, the magical tales we were told at bedtime have been upended, turned inside out, reshaped, and given a keen, distinctly adult edge by eighteen of the most acclaimed storytellers ever to reinvent a fairy tale. Our favorite characters, from Sleeping Beauty to Rumpelstiltskin to the Gingerbread Man, are here but in different guises, brought to new life by such masters as Nancy Kress, Jane Yolen, Storm Constantine, and the late, great Roger Zelazny.

These breathtaking tales of dark enchantments range from the tragic and poignant to the humorous to the horrifying to the simply astonishing. The story of an aging woodcutter persuaded to help a desperate prince make his way through the brambles to save a sleeping beauty twists ingeniously around like the thorny wall that impedes them. The fable of an all-controlling queen mother who faces her most fearsome adversary in a sensitive princess who appears mysteriously during a storm is a dark, disturbing masterpiece. And readers will long remember the exquisite tale of Death, his godson, football, and MTV.

Anyone who has ever loved or even feared the old tales of witches and trolls and remarkable transformations will find much to admire in this extraordinary collection—happily ever after or not.
Dark and decidedly grown-up stories inspired by fairy tales—from New York Times bestsellers Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Carol Oates, Susanna Clarke, and more.

 This collection from World Fantasy Award–winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling proves that fairy tales don’t have to be for little children and that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever. Here, the plights of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, and others are reimagined by some of today’s finest literary talents.
 
Hansel and Gretel make several appearances, not the least being at their trial for the murder of a supposedly helpless old woman. The real, shocking reason for Snow White’s desperate flight from her home is revealed. And the steadfast tin soldier, made flesh and blood, pays a terrible price for his love and devotion.
 
The twenty-one stories and poems in this collection run the gamut from triumphant to troubling to utterly outrageous, like Don Webb’s brilliant merging of numerous tales into one wild, hallucinogenic trip in his “Three Dwarves and 2000 Maniacs.” All in all, they mine the fantastical yarns we loved as children for new and darker gold.
 
Includes stories by Michael Cadnum, Karen Joy Fowler, Michael Blumlein, Nalo Hopkinson, Esther M. Friesner, Joyce Carol Oates, Steve Rasnic Tem, Garry Kilworth, Anne Bishop, Gregory Frost, Sten Westgard, Midori Snyder, Harvey Jacobs, Don Webb, Bruce Glassco, Pat Murphy, John Crowley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Susanna Clarke, Nancy Kress, and Jane Yolen.
 
This “highly recommended” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) collection edited by New York Times bestselling author Lee Child pairs the beloved characters of twenty-two internationally bestselling writers in “a must-read for fans of the thriller genre. Very rarely does this kind of star power assemble for one anthology, and each story delivers the goods” (The Real Book Spy).

The incredible follow-up to FaceOff features twenty-two of the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed thriller writers pairing their series characters in an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). MatchUp takes the never-before-seen bestseller pairings of FaceOff and adds a delicious new twist: gender. “Think Dancing With the Stars, but with mysteries” (Booklist) as eleven of the world’s best female thriller writers from Diana Gabaldon to Kathy Reichs to Charlaine Harris are paired with eleven of the world’s best male thriller writers, including John Sandford, C.J. Box, and Nelson DeMille, among others. “This box holds a chocolate or two that will be to everyone’s liking” (Kirkus Reviews).

In these innovative stories, their beloved protagonists, Lee Coburn, Joe Pickett, and Jack Reacher—just to name a few—team up to unnerve and satisfy thriller fans worldwide. All of the contributors are ITW members, and the project is edited by ITW member and #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child. The lineup includes:

Sandra Brown’s Lee Coburn vs. C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett
Val McDermid’s Tony Hill vs. Peter James’s Roy Grace
Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan vs. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher
Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser vs. Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone
Gayle Lynds’s Liz Sansborough vs. David Morrell’s Rambo
Karin Slaughter’s Jeffrey Tolliver vs. Michael Koryta’s Joe Pritchard
Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly vs. Andrew Gross’s Ty Hauck
Lisa Jackson’s Regan Pescoli vs. John Sandford’s Virgil Flower
Lara Adrian’s Lucan Thorne vs. Christopher Rice’s Lilliane
Lisa Scottoline’s Bennie Rosato vs. Nelson DeMille’s John Corey
J.A. Jance’s Ali Reynolds vs. Eric Van Lustbader’s Bravo Shaw
Seven “masterfully told” stories of suspense and nightmarish drama from the National Book Award–winning author of Them (The Guardian).
 
With the novella and six stories collected here, Joyce Carol Oates reaffirms her singular reputation for portraying the dark complexities of the human psyche. The title novella tells the story of Marissa, an eleven-year-old girl with hair the color of corn silk. When she suddenly disappears, mounting evidence points to a local substitute teacher. Meanwhile, an older girl from Melissa’s school is giddy with her power to cause so much havoc unnoticed. And she intends to use that power to enact a terrifying ritual called The Corn Maiden.
 
In “Helping Hands,” published here for the first time, a widow meets an Iraq War veteran in a dingy charity shop, having no idea where the peculiar encounter is about to lead. In “Fossil-Figures,” a pair of twins—an artist and a congressman—never outgrow an ugly sibling rivalry. And in “A Hole in the Head,” a plastic surgeon gives in to an unusual and dangerous request.
 
Together, these seven tales offer “a virtuoso performance” of “probing, unsettling, intelligent” storytelling from one of the world’s greatest writers of suspense (The Guardian).
 
“The seven stories in this stellar collection from the prolific Oates may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises. . . . This volume burnishes [her] reputation as a master of psychological dread.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“For horror stories to be truly horrific, the reader has to care. Oates feels this deeply in her writing, and delivers with style.” —The Independent
 
“Further confirmation of a unique writer’s restless, preternatural brilliance.” —The Guardian
Drawing on the mythology of the Green Man and the power of nature, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, and others serve up “a tasty treat for fantasy fans” (Booklist).
 
There are some “genuine gems” in this “enticing collection” of fifteen stories and three poems, all featuring “diverse takes on mythical beings associated with the protection of the natural world,” most involving a teen’s coming-of-age. Delia Sherman “takes readers into New York City’s Central Park, where a teenager wins the favor of the park’s Green Queen.” Michael Cadnum offers a “dynamic retelling of the Daphne story.” Charles de Lint presents an “eerie, heartwarming story in which a teenager resists the lure” of the faerie world. Tanith Lee roots her tale in “the myth of Dionysus, a god of the Wild Wood.” Patricia A. McKillip steeps her story in “the legend of Herne, guardian of the forest. Magic realism flavors Katherine Vaz’s haunting story. Gregory Maguire takes on Jack and the Beanstalk, and Emma Bull looks to an unusual Green Man—a Joshua tree in the desert” (Booklist). These enduring works of eco-fantasy by some of the genre’s most popular authors impart “a real sense of how powerful nature can be in its various guises” (School Library Journal).
 
“A treasure trove for teens and teachers exploring themes of ecology and folklore.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“The stories are well-written and manage to speak to both the intellect and the emotions.” —SF Site
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