Curse of Deepwater

I closed my eyes but sleep would not come…

The smell of must and decay in the room stifled me, and I opened a window – and looked down. The mist swirled over the lake like figures bending and swaying. Surely they were women! Women with hair floatingbehind them like smoke streamers, as they moved together in a macabre dance.

There was a sad moaning sound that made my scalp tingle with fear. I heard my name like a sigh in the wind, like a cry of torment. “Veronica…Please come…Come, please…”

Written by Christine Randell. Warner Paperback Library Edition, first printing February 1974.

I really enjoyed the last Christine Randell book I read, so I thought I would give this one a go. I’m about half way through and things seem to be shaping up nicely in the gothic department. Deepwater features a beautiful yet vulnerable heroine – Veronica – who has accompanied her elderly friend Camille to a doomy old castle so that Camille can be re-united with her estranged husband  – Sir Justin Quinton Brande.

Of course the rest of Sir Justin’s relatives do not take kindly to their new guests and soon Veronica finds herself the victim of all sorts of strange goings on. Legend has it the lake  at Deepwater is haunted and disembodied voices start plaguing Veronica in her sleep. Disturbing family secrets are unearthed as, shortly after her arrival, Veronica  starts seeing visions of Camille’s daughter, Rosalyne, who went missing on the grounds of Deepwater years ago and is believed drowned.

Though Curse of Deepwater lacks the frenetic pace and all out weirdness of A Woman Possessed (reviewed in my last post below) – it reads very well as a gothic, with lots of atmosperic touches and an interesting cast of odd ball relatives lurking in the background, all waiting to pounce on their piece of Sir Justin’s inheritance pie. There is also a potential love interest in the strapping young gardener Tom, but it is too early to tell and, since he was prime suspect in the Rosalyne disppearance, he might well turn out to be one of the bad guys.

The cover art is rather lovely too and is credited to Vic Prezio.  Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find much about him on the internet and I’d love to be able to see more of his work.


 

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A Woman Possesssed

SHE WAS A WOMAN POSSESSED.

The woman who woke up on the beach thought she was Betty Bates. But the sinister man with her revealed she was Sara Dent- and that he was Henry her husband.

She had never seen him before.

She had never known Sara Dent.

Suddenly she was tormented by doubts of her own identity, fears of going mad and suspicion of her impending murder. When Henry threatened to commit her to an asylum, she ran away – back to her life as Betty Bates. But to her horror, no-one in her hometown recognized her!

Desperate, she returned to Henry to make a last attempt to regain her sanity. And there in his grim, mountaintop mansion she realized that to discover the secret of the mystery, she would have to pay – with her life!

Written by Christine Randell. First printing, Paperback Library Gothic August 1966.

This story plunges straight into the action as it opens with our protagonist, Betty Bates, waking up on a strange beach in Cyprus with a strange man claiming to be her husband and insisting she is in fact a woman called Sara Dent.

The plot gets curiouser and curiouser as we follow Betty  / Sara desperately trying to adapt to her ‘new’ life – surrounded by strangers she has never met but who all claim to know her. Has she imagined her whole life up to this point?

Her ‘husband’  tells her she is ill, that Betty Bates is a figment of her imagination and  she has been prone to these blackouts for a while but Sara / Betty is not so easily convinced. Things get worse when the love of her life, Robbie,  turns up at a dinner party. She cannot ignore the chemistry between them,  but why is it he only knows her as  Sara too?

In desperation she travels to England, hometown of Betty Bates. None of her family recognise her as Betty but at least now she can prove Betty Bates actually existed. What she learns in England helps her to understand a bit more about the mystery surrounding her identity and so she returns to Cyprus for a life and death showdown with her embittered and twisted husband Henry.

I must say this novel intrigued me and kept me turning the pages right from the beginning. The ending won’t disappoint either. The settings aren’t particularly gothic and there isn’t much supernatural going on, but it is well written with lots of suspense driving the story forward.

The cover art is gorgeous; I can’t find a credit for the artist but it looks a bit like a Marchetti to me. Four out of five stars.