Now, you won’t be surprised to discover that Best British Horror 2014 is an anthology of recent horror stories. Published by the proudly independent Salt Publishing, Best British Horror 2014 aims to continue the traditions of the long lost and lamented The Pan Books of Horror Stories that were such a staple of my misspent youth along with Hammer Horror, Worthington White Shield and Heavy Metal.
Hang on a minute, Best British Horror 2014 you say! That’s some boast! Now my darling Horror Hothouse Flowers, is there any substance to the claim or is the blood trickling down the shower plughole from a shaving cut (not from furry little me, of course)? Well, actually, it’s pretty damned good. What you get for your £9.99 is 22 great little stories from authors including Stephen Volk, Ramsey Campbell and Muriel Gray. At less than 50p each, you can’t go wrong.
Along for the ride you will meet a psychopathic artist, a boarded up bride, a nasty and very contagious disease, several people with, shall we say, disordered personalities and a guardian angel. Stand out stories for me were: Anna Taborska’s The Bloody Tower, where in a dystopian Britain the Tower of London has become a privatised prison for suspected terrorists, but the tower’s spooks are having none of it; Dad Dancing by Kate Farrell which proves that you should never embarrass your grown up kids; Muriel Gray’s The Garscube Creative Writing Group, which believe me you don’t want to join and Stephen Volk’s The Magician Kelso Dennett whose latest trick would really baffle David Blaine.
The final story, Joel Lane’s Without A Mind, where police procedure goes out of the window when faced with a pretty nasty supernatural phenomena is included as a tribute to the author who died earlier this year at the age of 50, a great talent and a tragic loss.
Without a single clunker, Best British Horror 2014 is what the title says. If anyone can produce a collection to prove me wrong, I’d love to read it. I give it a 666/666.
Best British Horror 2014 is available from real and online bookshops and from Salt Publishing.
For further reading, hightail it down to your local second hand bookstore and search out editions of The Pan Book of Horror Stories. There are 30 volumes to collect published between 1959 and 1989, and in good condition they can sell for good prices. Best British Horror 2014 editor Johnny Mains was the project manager for the 2010 reissue of the first in the series.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.