Of course, they're not MY best hundred, or yours either - but that's the fun of it. Of course, there's a fair sprinkling of idiots and semi-literates - Shaun Hutson (on David Morrell's excellent The Totem) admirably lives down to both labels. Colin Wilson apparently believes that Stoker's Dracula can't be appreciated without a knowledge of Stoker's biography; the ever-infantile Forrest J Ackerman drools inconsequentially over a forgotten (and deservedly, by the sound of it) 1940s pulp novel; and Richard Christian Matheson is disappointingly vague and platitudinous about his father's magnificent I Am Legend. Also, the editors have cheated slightly in resorting to dead authors for some of their reviews - though this is of course wholly in keeping with the spirit of the enterprise, and is well justified by the presence of critics like H P Lovecraft (on Robert W Chambers' The King In Yellow) and Edgar Allan Poe (on Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales). The presence of the writing dead also helps ensure that the late twentieth century is not more over-represented than absolutely necessary, though I could have done with seeing works by Thomas Tessier, James Herbert and Michael McDowell in place of James Branch Cabell (Something About Eve, reviewed in horrendously sloppy style by Robert E Howard), Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey is a lovely read, but horror it ain't) and Henry James (whose 120-page treatment of a 5-page story, The Turn of the Screw, is reviewed by R Chetwynd-Hayes with his usual pedestrian flippancy). (It's wonderful, by the way, to be writing a favourable review which simultaneously gives me the chance to pan.) The editors also commit the enormity of repeating the usual old wives' tale about The Castle of Otranto - "turgid and unreadable"; it's nothing of the kind. But the huge majority of these articles are thoughtful, well-written and calculated to make you rush out and buy all the titles featured, or at least all you can find - an unfortunately large number of these books are out of print, rare or simply unobtainable (E H Visiak's Medusa, intriguingly reviewed by Karl Edward Wagner, is a particularly frustrating example). But the advent of Internet shopping (not to mention Amazon.com auctions) may serve to ameliorate the situation until some enterprising publisher decides to bring out a 100-volume companion series to this book. It's about time somebody did. If your favourite author isn't reviewed here, s/he's probably a contributor - the only major one I can think of who's been completely passed over is James Herbert, and even he turns up in the extended bibliography at the back, along with Aeschylus, Dante and the ghost of the kitchen sink. Ramsey Campbell's foreword ends with the hope that this book will broaden the reading of whoever uses it, and it's hard to imagine anyone picking the book up without that hope being fulfilled.