The Dark Shadows Book of Vampires and Werewolves

If this were an ordinary book, and we were ordinary mortal editors, we would take our leave of you now, dear readers, and commend you to the text without further comment beyond our injunction to enjoy yourselves. But since neither of these things is true we are compelled to beg your leave to continue a while longer, in order that we may impart to you a smattering of knowledge of the curse that is our lot to carry in our withered hearts….

– From the introduction by Barnabus and Quentin Collins.

Paperback Library Gothic, first printing August 1970.

Contents

Introduction

The Vampire by John Polidori

Mrs Amworth by E.F Benson

Wolves Don’t Cry by Bruce Elliott

The Vampire of Croglin Grange by Augustus Hare

Men-Wolves (From the Polish)

For The Blood is The Life by F. Marion Crawford

Count Magnus by M.R James

The Vampire Legend by Lewis Spence

The Vampire Nemesis by “Dolly”

I wanted to end this month’s posts with a gothic about werewolves but couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to make do with a couple of quickie stories from my trusty supply of Dark Shadows paperbacks instead.

Following on from the fabulously flowery introduction, Barnabas has the lion’s share of this anthology with seven of the nine stories featuring vampires. Of the two werewolf tales, Men-Wolves (From the Polish) is a mere four pages long and isn’t really a story as such, reading more like an extract from a textbook on werewolf folklore.

That leaves Wolves Don’t Cry by Bruce Elliott. This is an interesting twist on the werewolf legend. An enjoyable read, funny and touching at times, it follows the adventures of a wolf  in a zoo that wakes up to find itself transformed into a man and desperate to become wolf again.

A quick google reveals this story has also appeared in Rod Serling’s Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves – an anthology edited by Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling and published by Bantam Books in 1963. Love that spooky cover, not sure what’s going on between the two gentlemen though…

The Hounds of the Moon

The Bride of Evil…

A week ago, Susan Anderson had never laid eyes on handsome Stephen Branthwaite. And now she was his wife, the loving mother of his 6 year old son, and mistress of magnificent Whitehall mansion. It was a dream come true – until the nightmare began. For someone was trying to kill the child!

Suddenly the splendor of Whitehall turned black with terror. Had Susan given her heart to a killer? Would she meet the same macabre fate as the first Mrs. Branthwaite? Could she save her son from the clutches of evil when her own life had become a bonechilling race against death?

Written by Elisabeth Offut Allen, this Popular Library Edition 1974.

Three times a charm, so the saying goes, and in honour of tonight’s full moon, I thought I would  continue the month’s doggy-themed gothics with this hauntingly illustrated Queen Size Gothic.

I’ve not read Hounds of the Moon as yet – but I’ve had a quick peak through the pages and like what I see so far.

Here’s how the book starts –

“Occasionally we are told, time has a way of shaking some of its shutters loose, and if we are alert and keen-sighted enough, we may catch a glimpse through the chinks of what lies ahead.”

I like this opening line enough to want to read on and the back blurb promises ‘READING FIT FOR A QUEEN’ so I guess I  will be adding this to my ever-growing pile of gothics to get through!


The Black Dog

A STRANGE AND HORRIFYING DEATH

Lottie Daley, a young teacher interested in psychic lore, was sure that the handsome stranger was the creature of legend, born of a virgin centuries before. The legend whispered that he appeared every twenty-five years, accompanied by the black dog who guarded his mothers grave. Lottie could sense his sinister and hypnotic influence sapping her will and pulling her into the strange world of the psychic occult – toward a strange and horrifying death.

Written by Georgena Goff. First published Belmont productions 1971. This Five Star Paperback published by PBS limited 1973.

More canine confabulations this month courtesy of Five Star Paperbacks. I love my Five Star paperbacks! They can always be relied on to deliver the goods in the gothic-occult-thriller pulp fiction stakes.

Lottie is engaged to be married to Jed, a ‘spook-investigator’ currently writing a book based on a local medium called Holmes and the legend behind the source of  his psychic powers – allegedly dating back through his family for twelve generations.

On meeting Holmes, Lottie finds herself irresistibly attracted to his magnetic charms and mesmeric powers. Turning up at his house one day she finds him seated in an enormous gilded cage, projecting images on to a large television screen and she cannot resist him any longer. The deal is subsequently sealed when they are married by Holmes himself in a solitary midnight ceremony.

Alas, much to Lottie’s chagrin, it is not her body Holmes is lusting after and  for the rest of the book she spends alot of her time listlessly wafting around in a floaty white nightie, weeping hysterically into her pillow. Isolated from Jed  and  trapped in Holmes’ mansion,  the naturally feisty Lottie is unable to do anything for herself; it seems the more she loves Holmes the more she is sapped of her energy.

Meanwhile, Holmes’ behaviour towards his new bride becomes increasingly cruel and bizarre and when Lottie discovers the presence of two emaciated ‘child-women’ moaning in the basement she suspects her life is in danger. Summoning every spare ounce from the last vestiges of her strength, she makes a run for it – only to be met in the woods by a ferocious black beast with red glaring eyes…

Black Dog is an enjoyable read; the writing is a bit  touch-and-go at times but the unashamedly wanton kookiness of the plot more than makes up for that. There’s something for everyone here – strange cults, spooky seances, shapeshifting incubi and an impregnated mad woman imprisoned in the cellar. Five out of five stars – naturally!

An interesting note about the cover. I’ve noticed quite a few gothics seem to recycle the same covers for different novels. Why is that? As you can see, this cover is the exact same one used for the Fawcett Crest edition of Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels. The cover art here has a signature (Harry Bennett?) which isn’t visible on the Five Star edition.

And here is a much more evocative and fittingly canine cover for Black Dog.  This mass market paperback is the 1972 Belmont / Tower edition. 

Black Dog

The Hounds of Carvello

Did the Marchessa Carvello guess what might be going on under the palazzo roofs, or the evil which threatened to descend on the ancient family whose roots lay in blood long dried, whose future now lacked permanence?

Longing to escape the dull familiarity of her father’s home in England, Harriet agrees to go to the great Carvello palace in Italy to take her cousin Ann’s place as governess to the Carvello children. But how could Harriet know she would be thrown into the midst of strange and frightening events, and herself be involved in the tragedy that haunts the Carvello family….

Written by Frances Cowen. First Ace printing 1973.

Ann Mannering is in Italy working as a governess for the Marchesa Carvello. The Carvello family are incredibly rich and live on a huge estate, built on the site of an ancient castle, a few kilometres from Milan.

Ann is not happy; she has spotted trespassers lurking within the Pallazo grounds and feels threatened. She wants to leave – the sooner the better – so she makes a few calls, throws herself at the mercy of the Marchesa and in no time has arranged for her cousin, the recently widowed Harriet, to come over from England to take her place.

Enter our heroine, Harriet. Everyone tells her she is very pretty and the children adore her. But soon tragedy strikes when her cousin Ann is found dead, killed by a blow to the head and it is left to Harriet to uncover the deadly secret  surrounding the Carvello family.

Hounds of Carvello started out quite promising and reads very well as an adventure/romance, since most of the story is taken up by Harriet’s blossoming love affair with the tall, dark and deadly Niccolo. Unfortunately –  apart from some uncanny howling early on in the story and the odd murder or two –  there is nothing much gothic about this title. Lovely cover though. Two out five stars.