Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Short Story Wednesday: "Best New Horror" by Joe Hill

"Best New Horror" by Joe Hill (from 20th Century Ghosts)

One of the reasons I like to mix up my reading, reading a variety of types of books and genres, is to avoid burn out. It'd be too easy to overdo it on one type of book and then nothing seems original or fresh. I would grow too critical and reading would lose some of its pleasure.

Eddie Carroll, editor of America's Best New Horror, has grown weary of the horror stories that come his way. Each year, it is his job to put together an anthology of horror stories. And with each year, he becomes less and less enthralled with the submissions. It is with great pleasure then that he finds "Buttonboy" in his mail. It is a "cruel and perverse" story, awful and beautiful. Carroll hasn't read anything that good in a long while and so he sets out to find the author to request his permission to include the story in that year's anthology. In "Best New Horror", Carroll lives and breathes horror and soon finds himself in the middle of what may just well become his own horror story.

Joe Hill's short story, "Best New Horror" is a perfect fit for this time of year. The story of "Buttonboy" is dreadfully horrific, playing on several horror cliches. It's not a story on its own I would enjoy, much less recommend, but told in the context of "Best New Horror", it is put into a context which is much more palatable--and enjoyable.

Joe Hill succeeds at creating a short story that says so much in so few pages. The reader gets a good feel for the main character, Eddie Carroll. And there is just enough story there to build up the suspense and bring the story to a pivotal ending without making the reader feel short changed. At least not this reader. While I wouldn't count "Best New Horror" among my favorites, it was an entertaining story and a good opener for the author's collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts.

Read for the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Wow! This sounds fantastic -- I love a good horror and creepy read, so this sounds right up my alley and perfect for Halloween. I love October!

  2. I've heard a lot about Joe Hill but haven't read one of his books or stories yet. I'm just rereading one of his dad's books (Carrie) and enjoying it immensely.

  3. Oh boy...sounds like I'm in for a treat since I'm reading this book later this month.

  4. I just started this book too - this is the only story I've read so far. It wasn't as gripping as I'd like as I was able to set it down a few times within the short story. I'll keep going though, and see if I can find one I like a bit better.

    I'll try to stay a story ahead of you!

  5. I don't read very many short stories, but this collection sounds like something that I would love. Going to be adding this to my wish list right now! Thanks!

  6. Coffee & a Book Chick - It really is the perfect time for a book like this. What's nice is that not all the stories are what I'd call horror stories, so it's a nice variety.

    Kathleen - I will be reviewing Heart-Shaped Box soon which I read recently. I really like the author's style so far.

    Kris - I hope you will enjoy it! I'm not too far in yet myself, but what I've read, I've enjoyed.

    RaiderGirl - LOL You're probably way ahead of me in the book. I've been reading it very slowly. This particular story isn't my favorite either, but I thought it was very well written.

    Zibilee - I think you might like this collection. Some of the stories are better than others, but that's not unusual.

  7. You've just reminded me to start "working" on this challenge. I've been so distracted by work and other books, I almost neglected this challenge. Joe Hill's great. I really liked his book, HEART-SHAPED BOX.

  8. Alice - I finished Heart-Shaped Box not too long ago and hope to get my review up this next week. I really like Joe Hill's style.


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