It’s finally October, which gives me the perfect excuse to discuss one of my favorite things: horror! Here, I have collected five of my favorite horror anthologies to share.
It was difficult narrowing the list down. Ultimately, I decided to keep it at a smaller number, and focus on books that are still in print. (A second part, for my favorite out of print anthologies, is in the works!)
There were some new books I wanted to include, but since I hadn’t read them yet, I opted to leave them off the list and include them in later posts.
While it’s exciting to hear about new releases, there are solid, older books that are just as worthwhile. I made sure to only pick books I adore.
One last note: some of these horror anthologies feature works by one author, while others have a variety.
Let’s get started!
20th Century Ghosts, by Joe Hill
Joe Hill is a fantastic author in his own right, regardless of being Stephen King’s son. I was tempted to include his newer Full Throttle collection, but 20th Century Ghosts, published in 2005, is an excellent introduction to his short stories. They range from the tragic (beautiful dead girl haunts movie theater), to the weird (boy turns into giant bug), so there’s much more than simply ghosts in this book.
Everything’s Eventual, by Stephen King
Stephen King is a master of the short story. Any of his collections would have been appropriate for this list. I went with Everything’s Eventual, because the stories are so solid, they’ve remained in my head years later. Some of them are full-on horror, like the hellish hotel room in 1408 and the uncomfortable questions That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French presents. Others, like the book’s namesake, Everything’s Eventual, have a dark sense of humor that makes you smile despite yourself.
A Nest of Nightmares, by Lisa Tuttle
This book was out of print, but the amazing people behind Valancourt Books revived it for their Paperbacks from Hell series. I am grateful they did. I have read some of Lisa Tuttle’s work in other anthology collections. Her gift for taking the mundane and twisting it into horrifying scenarios is wonderful to experience. As a refreshing bonus, her stories all feature female protagonists.
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have accomplished something very special with this book. It’s colossal at over a thousand pages long, and covers stories from the years 1908-2010. There are many favorites in here. Franz Kafka, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, and Clive Barker all make appearances, but there are also many stories from authors that only aficionados would recognize. A list of horror anthologies would be incomplete without this. It has my highest recommendation.
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (various volumes), by Stephen Jones
I used to find these and buy quite a few, but found myself stashing so many without having read much. Jones tends to reprint mostly male horror authors, despite a large number of women writers contributing to and getting awarded by the field. The same clutch of “guys” every year eventually put me off. But I still read reviews of them, when found. I’m glad it’s still going.