I'm still reading but these are so far the outstanding horror collections:
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books) is probably the most eagerly anticipated debut horror collection of 2007 and it’s one of the best of the year. Barron’s a stylist who creates believable and flawed characters, and his short fiction (usually novellas or long novelettes) often delves into Lovecraftian depths and brings up new takes on very old monsters. The eight reprints and one original novella are completely engrossing. Three of the stories were reprinted in earlier volumes of YBFH and two others would have been if they’d been shorter. A special nod to the jacket artist and designer respectively: Eleni Tsami and Claudia Noble.
Stains by Paul Finch (Gray Friar Press) is the author’s second collection. Finch’s fiction is visceral and usually is set in the contemporary UK. His first collection, Aftershocks, won the British Fantasy Award and this new one will likely be on the award’s short list. Included are eight stories, including three new novellas, two of them very good. The attractive hardcover has jacket art by Zach McCain and an introduction by Simon Clark. Not as consistently good as Barron, but very good indeed.
Old Devil Moon by Christopher Fowler (Serpent’s Tale) features mostly new stories from this prolific writer of horror and mystery fiction. Although some of the stories are thin, they’re all entertaining, and there are a handful that are wonderfully creepy.
Dirty Prayers by Gary McMahon (Gray Friar Press) has some effective stories among the twenty-five pieces of fiction, but it would have been a stronger collection if the interstitial “psalms” were deleted along with the vignettes, preserving only the cream of the crop. That said, there are some very good originals in the book.
And just so you all know, I rarely spend much time on collections with no original material. So I may very much like a collection that's all reprints, but unless I'm very familiar with the author's work, I won't say much about it.
- Some favorite collections in 2007