**These are my personal “Top Five Collections/Anthologies of 2018”. These are collections that I have READ in 2018, not necessarily published in that year (although many were).**
- THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER, by Calvin Demmer: This collection of flash fiction stories was brought to my attention by fellow reviewers. I honestly never thought much about “flash fiction” before. If anything, I was under the assumption that it was difficult enough to get an “entire” story into short story format, let alone something with a much shorter word count. Calvin Demmer showed me just how wrong I was! I can honestly say that there wasn’t a “bad” story in this collection, in my opinion. Most of these were individually rated between four and five stars by me, and I was simply astonished by how much I enjoyed the format. Demmer’s imagination and writing style were the perfect combination here. Although this was my first read by this author, it certainly won’t be my last!
- THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume Three, edited by James D. Jenkins & Ryan Cagle: This third, and hopefully not last, volume of Horror Stories from Valancourt Books continues to impress me. The range of stories–from topics, time periods, and writing styles–varied with each entry, bringing the reader a fresh new set of stories once again. This is certainly a series I will continue to purchase each and every volume of.
- SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLOOD-SOAKED, by Christa Carmen: This is the debut collection from author Christa Carmen, and it certainly made a strong, favorable impression! This collection has something for every fan of the genre. Another new-to-me author that I’m looking forward to reading more from in the near future.
- WELCOME TO THE SHOW, edited by Matt Haywood & Doug Murano: This anthology includes 17 stories all connected by a central theme. Personally, I love these kind of collections. While each story showcases the individual author’s talents and style, the venue at the heart of it all gives them something in common. This one starts out incredibly strong, and ends on a note just as good.
- GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY, M.R. James: Okay, I will admit upfront that this is a beloved re-read for me. Sometimes you just want to go back to the classic themes that got you started reading the horror genre in the first place, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than M.R. James. In my personal readings, James was the first of the “early writers” I encountered that made ghosts truly terrifying, as opposed to merely gentle, lovesick phantoms. I always have a collection of his on hand for revisiting.
**This year I didn’t read quite as many books as I have in past years, but I was introduced to many “new-to-me” authors, and took part in some amazing group reads. Putting a list of 25 to single out was a struggle, and I’m hopeful that 2019 brings more of the same.**