Sunday, August 30, 2015
Space Operae!: A Tale of Three Planets - by Michael R. Collings - A short science fiction novel with a bonus twist on a werewolf tale
Michael R. Collings writes novels, short fiction, poetry, reviews, critical essays, and scholarly studies of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His novels include The Slab, The House Beyond the Hill, and Static! He has twice been a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award®.
A short time ago, Michael reached out to me with a request to read his new book and provide a review. I took a chance. Sometimes you discover a real gem when in these circumstances. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times.
Conceptually strong, Space Operae! A Tale of Three Planets, "...is about aliens...alien nations, alien worlds, alien Gods. It is, in the most fundamental way, of the Aliens, by the Aliens, and for the Aliens."
The crux of the the story is the terraforming and seeding of alien worlds by the Koleic. The author goes to great lengths to establish his non-humanoid characters and the framework of their command structure aboard their God-ships. Basically it's a numeric system with numbers closer to one being higher up on the food chain, with higher numbers becoming more and more dispensable There's even a scene where a group of nines were all wearing red sashes. Get it?
When one God-ship returns to a previously seeded world and finds nothing, things start to get interesting, later a God-ship encounters a Great Old One. A bit of a Lovecraftian twist.
I'm not saying Space Operae! A Tale of Three Planets is without it's merits, it just wasn't something worth getting excited about. The bonus story, "Wer" Means "Man", was even less enjoyable. Again the idea of a twist on the age old werewolf story was interesting, but it never seemed to get off the ground for me.
Space Operae! A Tale of Three Planets is self-published and available now in both paperback and ebook formats. The good news is, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this book at no additional charge and if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for FREE as your monthly selection in the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
I can't really recommend Space Operae! A Tale of Three Planets, however as is always the case in these situations your mileage may vary.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Candice Fox is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs composed of half-adopted and pseudo siblings. She currently works lecturing writing at the University of Notre Dame while undertaking a PhD in literary censorship and terrorism.
Eden is her second novel, a sequel of sorts to Hades, winner of the Ned Kelly Award for best first fiction from the Australian Crime Writers Association.
It was the tagline for Eden that made me want to read this book more than anything else. "Justice is good. Vengeance is better." I do love a good story of vengeance.
This is one of those instances where I wish I had read the first novel first. Although, it's not absolutely necessary, I often got the feeling I was missing something.
The author has a very smooth, comfortable writing style and I was quickly able to become immersed in the story. That being said, there were some occasions when I felt a little lost, it wasn't until late in the book that I realized why. I was thinking all of the storylines took place in the same timeline, but that's not the case.
There are a number of gems in Eden. One line in particular, "'I hate to tell you, but you're on the tail of a wild goose you wouldn't want to catch.'"
Eden reads like one of those 3000 piece jigsaw puzzles where once you find the key piece everything else falls right into place. Taken as a hole this was a very satisfying read.
Eden (An Archer & Bennett Thriller) is available now in both paperback and e-book formats from Kensington Publishers.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
I recently had the privilege of reading Edward M. Erdelac's new novel Andersonville, the story of the south's most notorious Civil War prison, told with supernatural twist. A great story, well told.
Right on the heels of Andersonille, comes With Sword and Pistol, a collection of four novellas, each with its own distinct story, but all of them including battles with swords, or pistols, or both.
At this point, I can safely say, Erdelac is my new go-to guy for top notch storytelling.
Night of the Jikininki came from the author's love of George Romero's zombie flicks. This is one of the best novellas I've read recently. Part samurai, part zombies, lots of action, and a mystical monk who creates sculptures with his poo. I loved it.
Red Sails features pirates. The captain, a vampire, his crew is mostly loups garoux (werewolves), has convinced an island village to provide human sacrifices at each new moon. Sampari has watched this occur since she was a little girl. No more, with the help of two outsiders captured by the pirates and released on the island for sport, they make a stand in a climatic battle of cinematic proportions.
Sinbad and the Sword of Solomon is a wonderfully entertaining story with the legendary sailor fighting pirates, coming to the aid of a beautiful woman, and battling hideous monsters. What's not to like.
Gully Gods. In his comments on this story, Edward M. Erdelac says "Gully Gods is really one of the darkest stories I've ever written..." I thoroughly enjoyed the rawness of the language in this story of Gang-banging in Chi-town. There's a bit of a supernatural element in this tale, too. A gritty, all too real story that tore my heart out.
All four of the novellas in this collection have appeared elsewhere, but if you're like me, this may be the first you've encountered them.
With Sword and Pistol, from Ragnarok Publications, is available now, both in paperback and e-book formats.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest - edited by Geoff Brown and Amanda J. Spedding - More military horror
It all started in August of 2014 with the release of the first SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror. Since that time, this franchise has grown to become a bit of a phenomenon with more books on the way.
In SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest the editors have collected ten wonderfully inventive short stories that run the gamut from straight military horror to tales with intelligent dinosaurs fighting side by side with humans.
"Badlands" by S. D. Perry who is an American novelist primarily writing tie-in novels based on works in the fantasy, science-fiction, and horror genres. Perry lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, two children, and two dogs. "Badlands" gets the anthology off to a stellar start with richly developed characters. Set in the Korean conflict, it's a story dealing with a local legend of the dead returning home. Called ganshi, these are not your typical walking dead.
"Of Storms and Flame" - by Tim Marquitz and J. M. Martin.the founders of Ragnarok Publications who have also established themselves as writers worth keeping an eye on. "Of Storms and Flame" has no guns or hi-tech weaponry. Maybe that's because it takes place a thousand years ago, but there is a lot of action in this tale of battles between legendary warriors and beasts summoned from the bowels of Hel.
"In Vaulted Halls Entombed" by Alan Baxter, an author of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Alan is also a martial artist and Personal Trainer and runs the Illawarra Kung Fu Academy on the southern coast of NSW, Australia. "In Vaulted Halls Entombed" features a group of soldiers chasing terrorists into a cave in Afghanistan only to see them trapped by something their training never prepared them for.
"They Own the Night" by B. Michael Radburn. Michael lives with his family in Australia’s Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Credited with over a hundred published short stories, his debut novel, The Crossing, was published in 2011. "They Own the Night" is set during the war in Vietnam where life was easy once you learned one simple rule, "We own the day, but Charlie owns the night," This story features an 800-year-old temple and one hell of a secret.
"Fallen Lion" by Jack Hanson who is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, having served as a US Army paratrooper. His current occupation is as a law enforcement agent, and he's an avid boxer, firearms enthusiast, and apiarist. He's also the author of 33 books and counting, his latest is Cry Havoc which, much like "Fallen Lion," features intelligent dinosaurs fighting right along side humans.
"Sucker of Souls" by Kirsten Cross, a copywriter by day, horror writer at night and surfer on the weekends. She is also one of only a couple of authors with a story in all of the SNAFU anthologies so far. In "Sucker of Souls," he's back. I'm talking about Vlad, The Dracul, the Black Prince, the Impaler. Love this story.
"The Bohemian Grove" by Weston Ochse, American author and educator who won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His novel SEAL Team 666 is currently under development by MGM Films. Dwayne Johnson has attached himself to the film to executive produce as well as act in a leading role. Weston is the other author with stories in all of the SNAFU anthologies to date. "The Bohemian Grove" features demon possession and a great story featuring special unit 77,
"After the Red Rain Fell" by Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter book series. Book ten in that series, The Devil's Anvil, was just released this past June. "After the Red Rain Fell" is an apocalyptic short with a very convincing back story. One of my favorites.
"The Slog" by Neal F. Litherland. Neal is an author from Northwestern Indiana. He holds a bachelors degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, sword fights in his spare time, and acts as a guide to the realms fantastical. "The Slog" is set in Vietnam. Luke is the sole survivor of an ambush and has to make his way though the jungle where he has some downright scary encounters, including one with a python "big enough to swallow a six-year-old and her little dog, too."
"Show of Force" A Jack Sigler/Chess Team Novella by Jeremy Robinson & Kane Gilmore. Jeremy resides in New Hampshire with his wife and three children, where he works as a full-time writer. Kane Gilmore has worked with Jeremy Robinson on several books in the Jack Sigler / Chess Team thriller series. "Show of Force" is a wild ride with the Chess Team trying to survive both the weather AND giant worms. That's right, worms. Somewhat reminiscent of Dune.
I found this new volume in the SNAFU family to be worthy of the name. The stories are varied and they all manage to deliver the goods. In addition to all of the great stories, the cover art from Dean Samed is absolutely beautiful, as are the interior illustrations from Monty Borror, one for each story.
I eagerly look forward to the next entry in the series from Cohesion Press. SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest is currently available as an ebook with a limited edition hardcover coming in October of 2015.
If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read this for FREE as your monthly selection in the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
Books like this make reading a pleasure. Of course it's recommended.
Friday, August 21, 2015
If I had it to do all over again, I probably would not have requested this book through Netgalley. I expected a lot more action and considerably less romance/sex. My mistake, so I really can't complain. This book is what it is and succeeds tremendously in what it sets out to accomplish.
Although, Tangling With the Tiger: Lone Pine Pride, is book five in an ongoing series, it works very well as a stand-alone novel.
"Warning: This book contains a scarred, brooding tiger with an unconventional approach to romance, a feisty, flirty lioness who doesn't know how to quit, love triangles, secret missions, and rooftop kisses hot enough to melt the Montana snow."
The central characters in Tangling With the Tiger are lioness, Grace Calaveras, the only female lieutenant in Lone Pine Pride history and Dominec Giroux, a French-Canadian Siberian tiger with deep issues after spending five years as a prisoner of the Organization.
The basic story has to do with efforts of the Lone Pine Pride to garner support among other prides of shapeshifters to launch an offensive against the Organization and put an end to the threat to their existence. There are some entertaining moments, even some occasional snark from Grace, which I did enjoy, but although this is a story about shapeshifters, it is much more a romance novel than a horror book.
Well-written and, no doubt enjoyable for its target audience, Tangling With the Tiger, was not really my cup of tea.
Tangling With the Tiger is available now, both in paperback and e-book formats, and published by Samhain Horror.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Keepers - by Gary A. Braunbeck - More of an epic fantasy/love story than horror, but I totally enjoyed this read
Gary A. Braunbeck is the author of 19 books and nearly 200 of his short stories have appeared in various publications. Born in Newark, Ohio; the city that serves as the model for the fictitious Cedar Hill in many of his stories. His fiction has received numerous awards, including the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction in 2003 for "Duty" and in 2005 for "We Now Pause for Station Identification"; his collection Destinations Unknown won a Stoker in 2006. His novella "Kiss of the Mudman" received the International Horror Guild Award for Long Fiction in 2005.
When first published, Keepers, was nominated for a 2005 Bram Stoker Award for "Superior Achievement in a Novel."
“The Keepers are coming…” The last words of a man who died in the middle of a highway through Cedar Hill, Ohio, still echo in Gil Stewart’s ears when he discovers a dying dog in his front yard. At the same moment a package arrives on his doorstep. A package holding hope that a past young love might not be lost after all."
Anytime I get to visit Braunbeck's Cedar Hill, I know I'm in for a treat. This story is certainly no exception.
I found myself smitten with Beth, then there's a truly delightful octogenarian in Marty Weis. More than once I found myself just smiling at the interaction between Marty and Beth's beau. One such interaction...
"Pot. Kettle. Black. Fill in the blanks." "Me. Go. Bring women and dogs." "Here. Me. Wait. Air-conditioning. Bring adverbs when you return."
Keepers is not all fun and games. By the end of the story I'd had my heart yanked out more than once. Some folks have found this work to be confusing and there were points where I thought that myself, but by the end of the tale it was like someone threw a light switch and suddenly chased away the darkness.
More of an epic fantasy/love story than horror, Keepers is, without a doubt, my most satisfying read of 2015.
Before I wrap things up, I'd like to acknowledge the cover for this new version of Keepers from Alerim at 99designs.com. Once you've read the book, you'll see how the artwork fully captures the story.
First published in 2005, this new, author's preferred version is available now in a wide variety of formats and is published by Journalstone.
My highest recommendation.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Falling In Love With Hominids - A collection from Nalo Hopkinson - A mixed bag that just fell short of perfection
Nalo Hopkinson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and also spent her childhood in Trinidad and Guyana before her family moved to Toronto, Canada, when she was sixteen.
You may be wondering, "What is a Hominid?" Dictionary.com defines Hominid as "any primate of the family Hominidae, which includes modern man ( Homo sapiens) and the extinct precursors of man."
In the forward to Falling In Love With Hominids, Nalo Hopkinson says, "I love and am fascinated by human beings. We are, all of us, capable simultaneously of such great good and such horrifying evil."
There are eighteen stories in this collection covering a variety of genres and writing styles. Occasionally I was left in the dark by the author's writing and at other times I found myself totally enamored. I hope this makes sense, but to me it seems as if some of the stories were written for the reader, while others were more for the writer herself and those seemed to be rather self-indulgent.
There were a number of really good reads in Falling In Love With Hominids.
I enjoyed "The Easthound" - A story of death and survival in an apocalyptic world.
"Message In a Bottle" was fanciful, wonderfully told, and very imaginative.
I also liked, "The Smile On the Face" - Teenage angst mixed with an ancient legend and Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello on the TV. I really like the use of the limerick to move this story along.
There were only a handful of stories that didn't hit the mark for me, but it was enough to just give this collection four stars.
Falling In Love With Hominids is now available in both paperback and ebook formats from Tachyon Publications.
Friday, August 7, 2015
Dark City is a collection of three novellas with varying takes on the apocalypse and the times following such a catastrophic event. The book features one longer piece from Brian Hodge and a couple of smaller novellas by Gerard Houarner.
"In the Negative Spaces" by Brian Hodge
Wendy Weil comes to stay at her brother's apartment in NYC. Barrett, at the front desk, welcomes her and in a way becomes her confidant in the days that follow. While living in her brother's apartment, Wendy discovers the dream journal of her brother's ex who one day just disappeared. What she finds while trying to solve this mystery makes for a very interesting story.
Taking nothing away from Mr. Houarner, this was my favorite of the three stories in the collection. In promoting this work on his website Brian says the following. "And somewhere in there, caramel-and-sea-salt brownies are served. Come for the brownies, stay for the blizzard and interdimensional chaos." Nice.
"Burning Bright In the Invisible Light" by Gerard Houarner.
I loved the opening line in this story, "It came to IsaBella that evening, after her husband came home, that his eyes had changed color." makes me want to know what that was all about.
There actually seem to be some zombies in this story, but they are definitely way in the background. This is really a story about trying to hold onto one's personal reality while everything around you is becoming more and more unreal.
"The Fear Puppet" by Gerard Houarner
The apocalyptic event in this story was known as The Turning. We never really learn what that meant or what the cause was, but it really didn't matter. I liked this story better than Gerard's other entry.
Marican works for the Ministry. While investigating the circumstances surrounding a missing man, he comes to question a teenage orphan girl named Oria and here things get rather interesting. In Gerard's Afterword for this tale he describes it as "Kafka meets Lovecraft. Welcome to the after party for the Apocalypse."
Together, the three stories that make up Dark City are explorations of how life goes on in spite of dire circumstances.
Available in hardcover and trade paperback from Necro Publications and as an e-book from the usual online retailers.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Left To Darkness is the third piece I've read by Craig Saunders over the last year. There was one word I used in my prior reviews of both Bloodeye and Masters of Blood and Bone. That word is "strange," and it certainly applies again to his newest book from Darkfuse publishers.
Over the last year, I've grown more and more fond of Craig's writing style. Interesting, fully realized characters, make this latest work a very enjoyable read. At first I was a bit disappointed with all of the loose ends at the book's end, but when I found out Left To Darkness is book one of a planned trilogy it made much more sense.
We've all read or heard about near misses with giant meteors over the years. You know, the kind that may have doomed the dinosaurs in pre-historic times. In Left To Darkness, it's finally happening again only, this time, humanity is the victim.
For now, there are some survivors, including a one-armed man, a blinded man, and possibly the last pregnant woman left alive. There's also a naked homeless man who, very well, may be the devil himself.
Left To Darkness is a fast paced story with moments of brilliance which will reach out, grab you, and shake you relentlessly until the final page.
Left To darkness will be available on August 11, 2015 in both paperback and ebook formats from Darkfuse publishers and can be read, at no additional charge, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Also, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can read this for FREE as your monthly selection from the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Kelli Owen was born and raised in Wisconsin and now resides in Pennsylvania where she's written a number of novellas and a few of my favorite books, including Live Specimens, Six Days, and White Picket Prisons.
Her latest effort is a novella called, The Hatch. It's a stand-alone sequel to Waiting Out Winter, a wonderfully creepy story of killer flies. In the sequel, a family of survivors is doing their best to find a safe place away from a new infestation of spiders. They are literally everywhere, but it's unknown whether they are as deadly as the flies, and no one wants to volunteer to find out.
If I have any complaint about this piece, it's the length. I would have loved this to have gone on for more than its 136 pages. However, Kelli did manage to put a lot into the story. A handful of wonderfully diverse characters, some that light up a room and one in particular who could single-handedly bring about a total eclipse on a bright, sunny day.
Just having the story feature spiders was enough to ratchet up the creepiness factor above 100%. I despise these eight-legged pests.
Both Waiting Out Winter and The Hatch are available, in paperback and e-book formats, at Amazon.com. Although The Hatch can be read without reading Waiting Out Winter, I really think you'll like them better together.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
AlanSpencer has published more than 30 books in the horror genre and he has a rather simple mission statement, to cover you in blood. If The Doorway is any indication, he's very good at fulfilling that mission.
The opening to this book pulled me right in...
"The dead work in mysterious ways.
Morty Saggs is desperate when his wife, Glenda, turns up missing. But all evidence points to Glenda never having left the house. Soon, odd smells permeate the property, and sometimes the doorway to his bedroom burns a hideous red. Is Morty going crazy, or did the house do something with Glenda? Is there some connection to the house's previous owner, a vicious murderer named Ted Lindsey? All of Morty's questions will be answered on the night the burning doorway opens--the night when the trap is sprung."
In The Doorway, Alan Spencer wastes no time in building the drama. At first, what is happening inside Morty's house is just rather creepy, but by the time we get to the halfway point, things are completely out of hand and I found myself reading my first splatterpunk novel. If you're unfamiliar with the term, splatterpunk is a movement within horror fiction in the 1980s, distinguished by its graphic, often gory, depiction of violence and "hyperintensive horror with no limits." With some terrifying forms of torture, unlike anything I've read before, this work certainly fits the definition.
While The Doorway is one of the most outlandish horror stories I've ever read, I still found it to be oddly satisfying.
The Doorway is published by Samhain Horror and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.
Recommended, but only if you're in the mood for some truly devastating horror.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
The Best Horror of the Year - Volume 7 - Edited by Ellen Datlow - A wide variety of today's best horror
The Best Horror of the Year - Volume 7, edited by the amazing Ellen Datlow, brings together twenty-two diverse authors in a collection that features a little bit of everything the horror genre has to offer. It truly does have something for everyone. Ellen has been at this for a long time. An editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for more than 30 years and has more than 50 anthologies to her credit.
"The Atlas of Hell" by Nathan Ballingrud. Nathan's work has appeared in numerous Years' Best anthologies and is a two time recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award. In this story Tobias George is selling artifacts from Hell and making lot of money in the process. Collected from the Fearful Symmetries anthology.
"Winter Children" by Angela Slater. Angela is the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award. Her writing is definitely a cut above in this story of revenge set in a nursing home. From Voyager PS 32/33.
"A Dweller in Amenty" by Genevieve Valentine. Her stories have appeared in several Best of the Year Anthologies. This one is about making a living as a sin eater. Originally published in Nightmare #18.
"Outside Heavenly" by Rio Youers. Rio's novel Westlake Soul was nominated for Canada's Sunburst Award. In this story no one is too upset when Beau Roth's burned body is found headless in the remains of his house. If you aren't reading Rio Youers, correct this right away. This story was in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.
"Shay Corsham Worsted" by Garth Nix. Garth makes his home in Sydney, Australia and has been writing full time since 2001 and has sold more than five million copies of his books. A very enjoyable story of forgotten tech. This one first appeared in Fearful Symmetries.
"Allochton" from Livia Llewellyn. Her work has been nominated for multiple Shirley Jackson Awards. This short is a tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft. Originally in Letters to Lovecraft.
"Chapter Six" by Stephen Graham Jones. Stephen is the author of fifteen novels and six short story collections. Many of his shorts have been published in Best of the Year anthologies. "Chapter Six" is the closest we get to a zombie story in this anthology and is more about a study of anthropology during the apocalypse. First appeared on Tor.com.
"This Is Not For You" by Gemma Files. Gemma was the winner of the 1999 International Horror Guild Best Short Fiction Award. Here we have a mystery religion for women only. From the Women Destroy Horror issue of Nightmare magazine.
"Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)" by Caitlin R Kiernan. Caitlin was recently named by the New York Times as "one of our essential authors of dark fiction." One of my favorites in the anthology. The title says it all. I easily became lost in the prose which I found to be lyrical yet callous. Originally published in Sirenia Digest 100.
"The Culvert" by Dale Bailey. Dale has been nominated for numerous awards including the International Horror Guild Award, the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and a Bram Stoker Award. Here a twin goes missing, but which one? This short was originally in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
"Past Reno" by Brian Evenson. Brian is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently the short story collection Windeye and the novel Immobility. In this story, following the death of his estranged father, Bernt has second thoughts of driving all the way to Utah for the reading of the will. Originally published in Letters to Lovecraft.
"The Coat Off His Back" from Keris McDonald. A captivating original concept about an Innocent Coat. Originally in Terror Tales of Yorkshire.
"The Worms Crawl" by Laird Barron. Laird is the author of several books and his short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies. This story is about a plot to murder and a double-cross in the great outdoors. Originally published in Fearful Symmetries.
"The Dogs Home" Alison Littlewood. Aunt Rose is spending her last days in a nursing home and wants nothing more than to see her beloved dog, Sandy, one more time. Her nephew Andrew is more than happy to make it happen. This story first appeared in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.
"Persistence of Vision" from Orrin Grey. Orrin was born on the night before Halloweeen. We've all read tales of the coming zombie apocalypse, but what if it's not zombies, but ghosts we should be worried about. First published in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse.
"It Flows From the Mouth" by Robert Shearman. Robert's five short story collections have earned him a number of prestigious awards. John is named godfather to Max and Lisa's son Ian in this strange and creepy story. This one originally appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees 2014.
"Wingless Beasts" by Lucy Taylor. Lucy is the author of seven novels including The Safety of Unknown Cities which earned her a Stoker Award. I loved this story of the life of a loner in Death Valley. This was from her collection Fatal Journeys.
"Departures" by Carole Johnstone. Story of a girl working a store at one of the departure terminals at an airport and what she sees one day in the lounge. This story first appeared in The Bright Day Is Done.
"Ymir" from John Langan. John is one of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Award. Here we have a story with a touch of Norse mythology. This tale was originally published in The Children of Old Leech.
"Plink" by Kurt Dinan. Kurt teaches high school English in Cincinnati and will see his first novel published in 2016. By far, this was my favorite story, the tale of a psych class playing with the mind of their teacher when he returns following bereavement leave. This story first appeared in Far Voyager PS 32/33.
"Nigredo" from Cody Goodfellow. This is the story of a cult deprogrammer and his secret weapon. It was originally published in The Court of the Yellow King.
In a collection this ambitious there are bound to be a few tales that don't quite hit the mark for every reader. At least I found that to be the case for me.
The Best Horror of the Year - Volume 7 is published by Night Shade Books and is available in both paperback and ebook formats.