The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 - Stephen Jones Intro - what an epic recounting of all that horror had to offer in 2009. still, i would have appreciated a bit more description because a catalogue is just not very compelling. and the editor's personalized comments about ex-friends was embarrassing and juvenile, and certainly an uninspiringly petty way to end the intro. tsk tsk, Stephen Jones.

"Throttle" by stephen king & joe hill. easily the best of the bunch, which is probably no surprise. it continues king's fascination with biker culture: the cast of Sons of Anarchy vs the demonic truck from Duel. in between the action, a meditation on the spoiled relationship between father and son, and the inability to heal old pains. considering that this was written by a father-son team, the emotional core of this story becomes particularly affecting.

"Two Steps Along the Road" by terry dowling. the second best story. as another reviewer noted, a very "asian" style of horror: ancient evil coming back in modern form. expertly written and the atmosphere is choice. a great ending.

"Cold to the Touch" by simon strantza. not bad, but lacking. the characterization did not work for me and the dialogue seemed forced. still, the arctic setting was well-done and i appreciated the sometimes subtle lovecraftian themes.

"Party Talk" by john gaskin. tediously over-written. sometimes purple prose goes right beyond enjoyably purple and right back into something called "bad writing". the narrative was nonsensical.

"The Woods" by michael kelly. a micro-story of sorts, and very well-done. a rather chilling last few paragraphs.

"Mami Wata" by simon unsworth. somewhat intriguing tale of a demonic nature succubus tormenting miners in Zambia. not bad.

"The Nonesuch" by brian lumley. a demonic parasol? really, lumley, really? my God, this story was terrible. not terribly written (he is a professional after all)....just terrible.

and the rest: just not very impressive. a whole lot of not-very-impressive. and certainly not interesting enough to spend time reviewing.