I was delighted to see that the Best British Horror anthology (I’m calling this an anthology as it’s a collection of stories but with the common link of all being written by British authors) had risen from the flames. After two very strong volumes (2014 & 2015) and a 3 year hiatus, Best British Horror is back with a new publisher (NewCon Press) The key to this anthology is its editor, Johnny Mains. There are not many people out there more passionate about the genre than Johnny, who has scoured anthologies, magazines, and online publications to select the very best horror stories written by British authors, from the insidiously creepy to the outright shocking.
Best British Horror 2018 is a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that’s exceptionally well written. There’s not one clunker across its 17 tales, confirming Mains as the goto man for collating stories that will unnerve and delight. It’s at this point that I should add that I didn’t necessarily find a large percentage of this book horrifying. This could lead to a discussion about what does horror mean to you, which I’ll leave for another day. For me, this was an unsettling read with a majority of the shorts fitting the supernatural/paranormal genres. So horror in the broader sense, I hate to even contemplate being critical of this book but that’s my only issue.
I’m not going to comment on every tale in the book, although I have made brief Twitter comments on most of them if you look for #BBH2018. I will highlight a few of my personal favourites though starting with ‘The Unwish‘ by Claire Dean. Here we have an unsettling tale focussing on everyday family life, with anything supernatural underplayed to perfection. What made this so good was what Claire didn’t put on the page. I wonder if any readers also thought like I did regarding Amy and any unspoken actions she may have made against her sister. ‘Sun Dogs‘ by Laura Maura is a wonderful short that had characters I loved and created gorgeous imagery that totally captivated me. I just wish I hadn’t picked up on a single line midway through the story that gave away part of the shorts conclusion. Still, you get no higher accolade that being nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award which is exactly what ‘Sun Dogs‘ has. Congratulations! Finally, and my favourite tale in Best British Horror 2018 is the completely brilliant ‘Shell Baby‘ by V.H. Leslie. This is, for me, the closest to my perception of ‘horror’ in the anthology. A beautifully disturbing tale about maternal instinct in a gorgeously gothic windswept coastal setting. I adored the ‘Shell Baby‘, it’s possibly the best short I’ve read this year. It’s so beautifully written I’m now going to look to pick up all of V.H. Leslie’s work. I can’t offer higher praise than that.
Not strictly ticking the horror box consistently for me, but that’s possibly me being a tad picky. Best British Horror 2018 is a must read collection of shorts that should be in every fan of the darker genre’s collection.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4*
Editor Johnny Mains has scoured anthologies, magazines, and on-line publications to select the very best horror stories written by British authors. From creepingly insidious tales where the fear gathers slowly to the outright terrifying, from musty abandoned buildings to the wilds of an isolated beach, from yarns of yesterday to contemporary horrors of today.
You can also buy Best British Horror 2018 direct from NewCon Press