Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Surprise - Six Horror Paperbacks


I had six old paperback horror titles tossed into my lap the other day while I was lying back on my friend’s bed. She had told me she was going off to use the bathroom, so I was not anticipating the armful of books she returned with. It was a nice little surprise, one that added weight to the sense that meeting up with Lilith last week was a great idea. My visits to her place have been a whole lot of fun, our shared interests sparking thousands of random conversations that would be impossible to map. So far our topics have covered things like philosophy, the occult, serial killers, Ancient Egypt, cats, religion, Satanism (Hollywood vs. real), and Japan, and that is just to name a few that come to mind at the moment. Oh, she also really like my book Text Message, and now can’t wait to read Jimmy. Because of this I know she has a wonderful taste in books and am looking forward to the titles she suggested.

Garden of Evil by Edmund Plante. Lilith and I both agree that this is the creepiest cover of all the books. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, she mentioned that this one used to scare her when she was little and that it took her many, many years before she was able to summon up the courage to read it. Had this book been sitting on my Mom’s horror shelf when I was little I’m sure the same would have been true with me. Hell, her Dean Koontz collection used to scare the living daylights out of me, and none of those covers were as creepy as this one. I mean, just look at it: an angry plant with sharp teeth-like fangs that are dripping fluid while digesting what appears to be a doll head, yet one with life-like teeth beneath the broken lips. Um, yeah, this would have haunted my dreams if I had viewed it as a child. Oh, and speaking of Edmund Plante. This is an author I have been meaning to read for years but have never before had any books by him in my possession, so, needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this one and can’t wait to read it. I also can’t wait to order more titles by him if this one turns out to be a decent read.

Cursed be the Child by Mort Castle. This is my second favorite cover -- evil children and gothic strollers always creeps me out, probably because I saw the Omen when I was very young -- and heard my mother talking about it when I was even younger. This is also the book Lilith suggested I read first, so I jumped into it Monday night and should have it finished by tonight and hopefully reviewed by this weekend. So far it is an interesting story, one that deals with some pretty serious and horrific themes -- there actually was a warning in the front cover of the book talking about the sexual topics that would be seen. More on that, however, in my future review post. As with the Edmond Plante above, Mort Castle is an author I have been meaning to read for years but have never gotten around to. Making this situation even more bizarre is the fact that I have several of his titles on my shelf, yet never sat down with them for some reason. Thankfully this won’t remain the case for long. Cursed be the Child is an enjoyable read, which means I will be opening more titles penned by Mort Castle. Even better I won’t have to wait for the next few reads, not when I already have them waiting. Take that super slow mailman who refuses to do his job. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Mailman, please stop conspiring with the garbage man to make my life a living hell. I know you two are talking. Anyway . . .

The School by Ed Kelleher & Harriette Vidal. I once read somewhere that the color purple sells horror titles. I’m not sure if this true or not, but do know I probably would have bought this book if I saw it sitting on the shelf at the bookstore. The reason for this would have been twofold: first the cover would have gotten my attention, and then the back cover description would have sold it. There is just something about creepy New England settings that always works for me, especially when that setting is home to an old stone structure -- in this case a school for girls who have no place else to go (hmm, maybe some sexy schoolgirl uniforms will come into play, even better) -- that sits in the middle of nowhere and may or may not be haunted. I especially like the last sentence in the description, one that reads: That semester, Vanessa would put her soul to the ultimate test -- and learn a lesson in evil . . . Yep, I’m hooked and can’t wait to see what exactly is going on in this sinister place. I’m also curious to see if the bleeding green apple on the front cover plays a part in this book, or is just an image used to create interest. I’m sure it is the latter rather than the former, but if the two authors were able to place such an item within this story I’d love to see how. By the way, I have never heard of or read anything by these two authors before, so I’m pretty excited about opening this one. Hmm, now would probably be a good time to clarify my comment about sexy schoolgirl uniforms . . .

The Gatekeeper by Dana Reed. Above I mentioned that I once heard that the color purple sells horror books. Well, in this case the purple used in the name of the author on this book makes me think romance novel rather than horror novel, and if it wasn’t for the title and the creepy kid with sharpened fingernails peeking through the fence posts I would have passed this one up had it been on the shelf. Now, having read the back cover description, I’m kind of curious whether or not this book cover really has anything to do with the story because it seems like this is going to be a haunted house tale. Nothing about an evil child is mentioned in the description either, yet the blurb on the front that says Born of evil, child of terror, it waits . . . has a serious evil child ring to it. I guess I will just have to read the book to know for sure. Maybe the house is haunted by a dead, evil child that is hungry for new souls? If so it will be a while before I know because I’m going to be reading the first three titles above first. What can I say, I judge books by the cover and those covers are more appealing to me. Plus I have a Kevin Anderson The X-Files novel to read. Can’t wait much longer on that, it just looks so good.

Neighbors by Maureen S. Pusti. Is anyone else getting a serious V.C. Andrews vibe from this cover? I actually thought this was a V.C. Andrews book that had landed on my lap when Lilith tossed it to me and was about to toss it back until I saw the author name. Now I will give it a chance, not because of the cover (ugh) but because the description on the back has me somewhat interested. It talks about a husband and wife who move to a quiet little Pennsylvania college town, one where several local children have disappeared. Apparently Kristen, the female half of this couple, is having dreams about the children. She also is having issues with her neighbors, especially the old woman next door. Something isn’t right about the old female neighbor, and, according to the description, Kristen is about to be ‘engulfed by a maelstrom of terror’ one that will ‘plunge her into a darkness from which she might not escape.’ Sounds promising. I love small town horror, and since I live in a small college town this should be a fun read. I will say this, though, if the book begins to feel like a V.C. Andrews tale I will probably forgo finishing it and bring it back. One book by that author was enough for me, and I’m not really interested in reading any books that ‘are in the style of’ that author, so, hopefully the only thing ‘in the style of’ that author is the cover.

Deadly Friend by Keith Ferrario. I’m not really sure what it is about this cover that I don’t like, especially considering it hints at an evil kid, which I always love. For some reason it just doesn’t work for me, and I probably would never have bought the book had it been sitting on the shelf at the bookstore despite how interesting the description on the back sounds. According to that description ‘Georgie is dead’ (I’m guessing this is the kid depicted on the front cover), yet this doesn’t stop him from ‘invading the realm of the living’. Apparently he is invading the realm of the living because he wants to make friends, ones that will join him in death. It also sounds like this friendship doesn’t have to be a two-way street, if he wants to be friends then you are his friend, plain and simple, and he will take you with him. I’ve had friends like this. Thankfully they were all living so the pain in the ass factor of being their friend was a bit less than what is probably going to be experienced by those in this tale. Then again, maybe not. I will have to read the tale to know for sure. Maybe even make a flow chart of events from my childhood and cross reference things to see which was worse. Hmm, sounds like fun . . .

So, there you have it. Six horror titles I was not expecting to have tossed into my naked lap, ones that I am now looking forward to reading and sharing with all who happen upon this blog. Anyone out there read any of these themselves? If so what did you think? Would you recommend them or were they so bad that you tried to block them from you mind and now are cursing me for bringing them to your attention once again? I will probably read them all no matter what anyone says, but that doesn’t meant I don’t want to hear about them. Please share.

13 comments:

Bastiensmom05 said...

See, I knew I could give you something worth reading ;-) And all the interesting conversations as well!! :-) Let me know what you think, I might have to re-read a few of those myself.. :) After Jimmy of course

Will Errickson said...

Wow, BMI went all out for these covers. As for Castle, I've never read one of his novels, but his story "Old Man and the Dead" in the Skipp & Spector zombithology STILL DEAD is one of my favorite stories ever!

William Malmborg said...

BMI did do a nice job. I've going to have to find some more from that era and see what those were like as well (have any more Lilith?). Now I'm trying to figure out if BMI was somehow connected with Dorchester Publishing -- an imprint maybe? All these titles were Dorchester books it seems, and on the inside cover it says something about being published by special arrangement with Dorchester.

Bastiensmom05 said...

I will have to dig through my mom's books and my aunt's books and see if either of them has any more. :)

CineVentures said...

just came across this page while looking for a scan of the cover for THE SCHOOL (I've got a stack of discs and unsorted papers on top of my scanner). THE SCHOOL was adapted into a low-budget 1990 Canadian film called VOODOO DOLLS that went direct to video. VOODOO DOLLS was just released on DVD in a double feature with MADONNA (also a Kelleher/Vidal novel/adaptation).

William Malmborg said...

CineVentures - Many thanks for the info on the movie adaptation for THE SCHOOL. I'm reading that one now -- about halfway through it -- and would love to see what the film is like. The title is throwing me for a bit of a loop. VOODOO DOLLS? I have a feeling this might mean I haven't uncovered everything within the book yet if voodoo somehow plays a part.

Thanks again for posting!

CineVentures said...

I'm covering the DVD for the site DVD Drive-In. You can check there or my blog (where I publish the links to my off-site reviews). It should be up mid next week.

William Malmborg said...

Excellent. I will look for it once its up. I added your blog to my feed as well since I have a feeling readers here will like what they see there. It is a great site.

CineVentures said...

Thanks. I've added you to my blog's blogroll too. I'm enjoying what I've read so far (I've also suffered through THE ORACLE and THE FOREST).

William Malmborg said...

Thanks for the add. THE ORACLE and THE FOREST. I completely forgot about those. I need to bring THE ORACLE to one of my little brother's bad horror movie nights and see if he realizes the furnature and toys (used as monsters at points in the film) were both items that could be found in our house while growing up.

CineVentures said...

"VOODOO DOLLS? I have a feeling this might mean I haven't uncovered everything within the book yet if voodoo somehow plays a part."

Hint: you're not gonna find the answer in the book...

William Malmborg said...

You know, I started to think this was going to be the case last night. Almost finished with the book but still no voodoo that I can see. It makes me even more eager to see the movie so I can see how it was presented.

CineVentures said...

I'm still working on the review, but I ended up skimming the novel to note the differences. I think it may have started out as a more faithful script and certain changes and deletions seem to have made a couple secondary characters completely unnecessary (yet they are still present in the finished film). I'm thinking that this was intended as another Roberta Findlay - director of THE ORACLE - film (Kelleher and Vidal adapted their paperback PRIME EVIL for Findlay, and co-wrote the "original" - i.e. not sourced from a novel, but not remotely original - screenplay for her film LURKERS).

All - well... some - will be revealed in my review (which will hopefully be up early this week, I still have to watch the co-feature MADONNA: A CASE OF BLOOD AMBITION).