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Richard Davis – Year’s Best Horror Stories 1

Posted by demonik on August 5, 2007

The Year’s Best Horror Stories ed. Richard Davis (Sphere, 1971).

Robert Bloch – Double Whammy
Brian Lumley – The Sister City
Elizabeth Fancett – When Morning Comes
Richard Matheson – Prey
Kit Reed – Winter
E. C. Tubb – Lucifer
Eddy C. Bertin – I Wonder What He Wanted
Peter Oldale – Problem Child
Ramsey Campbell – The Scar
Ralph Norton – Warp
Terri E. Pinckard – The Hate
Celia Fremlin – A Quiet Game
David Riley – After Nightfall
Robert McNear – Death’s Door

Robert Bloch – Double Whammy: Carney setting. Rod enjoys his job at the Freak Show up to a point, that point being the geek who earns his crust biting the heads off chickens. After our hero breaks up with a pregnant gypsy girl who then commits suicide, the armless, legless basket-case warns Rod to beware her grandmother who will put the double-whammy on him, i.e., put him to death by the means he fears the most ..

Brian Lumley – The Sister City: Robert Krug has webbed fingers, “peculiar qualities” about his skin, and a “horny cartliage” at the base of his spine. And he’s entirely hairless. A Cthulthu Mythos story in case you’d not guessed, and more fantasy than horror. Unlike the same author’s “The House Of Cthulhu”, this one did nothing for me personally.

Celia Fremlin – A Quiet Game: Tower block madness. Hilda winds up in an asylum, unable to cope with the pressure of keeping the children quiet but contented, and placating the irksome neighbours. She starts to believe the square of carpet the kids travel to “Inkooland” on is actually possessed of magical powers …

Peter Oldale – Problem Child: The Roberts’ baby, Rosie, is endowed with extraordinary telekenetic abilities. If she wants something, she only has to scream to draw the coveted item toward her ….

Richard Matheson – Prey: Amelia’s life or death struggle with an evil doll. There are innumerable stories on this theme, but I still rate Matheson’s take as one of the finest.

Kit Reed – Winter: Two old maids, Lizzie and Maude, are snowbound and in danger of starving to death before they discover a deserter hiding in the ‘playhouse’.

Eddy C. Bertin – I Wonder What He Wanted: Miss Francis Denver, a schoolteacher recently engaged to George, moves into her new home in Nowhill Street. From the first she has a feeling of being watched and gradually comes to realise the place is haunted. A face stares at her from the mirror. A cat she buys to get rid of any rats in the attic dies within a day, a ghastly expression on its face. at the bottom of the garden she discovers a tombstone bearing the name of a previous occupant – Francesca Denverra, a horror author of some repute who died in 1917. Francis obsesses over the earlier tennant, borrowing her books Scream From The Cellar, All The Shadows Of Fear and The Whispering Thing from the library and rooting through her unpublished manuscripts. Slowly but surely, Francesca Denverra gains a hold …

Ramsey Campbell – The Scar: Brichester. Jack Rossitor’s brother-in-law, the hapless Lindsay Rice, meets Jack’s doppelganger, similar in every respect to the original save for a nasty scar down his face. When Jack is attacked by his double and has his face slashed with a rusty tin can they are identical – even his wife, Harriet, can’t tell them apart. Lindsay begins to suspect the awful truth behind ‘Jack’s recent irrational behaviour including the savage beatings he inflicts on his kids. His worst fears are confirmed when he discovers a body in a derelict building.

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