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Year's Best Fantasy and Horror cover The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Thirteenth Annual Collection by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (ed).

Published by St. Martin's Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Each year editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling compile a collection of what they regard to be the best fantasy and horror short stories published during that year. This volume covers the stories of 1999, and as always includes a discussion of the state of the publishing industry and a list of stories that couldn't be included in the volume but were worthy of note.

This year's volume contains a wide range of stories, from the delightful to the terrifying. A number of them deal with the relationships of adults to children, both the nurturing and the destructive. "The Grammarian's Five Daughters" by Eleanor Arnason is a new look on the dear old trope of the poor parent sending children out in the world with gifts that appear trivial, even useless, but prove to hold wonderful value for those who have the wit to see it. The flip side of the relationship between child and adult can be found in Gemma Files' "The Emperor's Old Bones," in which ancient Chinese magic allows adults to literally steal a child's life for their own benefit.

However, not everything is so dark and grim. There is also whimsy, such as Susanna Clarke's "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," which starts with the fairy-tale trope of the broidress who works so well that her embroidery has the power to become reality. Instead of leaving it in its usual fairy tale context, Clarke brings it to modern times and allows a major historical figure become entangled in it -- namely Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo.

There are many other fascinating, frightening and entertaining stories in this volume, too many to examine in detail. In all, this is an excellent compendium, a particularly good resource for the writer who wants to see what a top editor in the field considers to be the best of the best.

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This review posted March 21, 2001

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