Place of Shadows

SOMEONE TRAPPED LENNITH FORRESTER IN THE AIRLESS WALL SAFE AT HILLHOUSE, AND IN ONE INSTANT, SHE LEARNED THE MEANING OF TOTAL FEAR!

“You are going to die here,” I heard myself say.

I listened to my own sobs.

So black; all around it was so black. I sank down to the floor.

The Safe was sound proof. Air proof.

Down on the floor I started screaming again, kicking my heels furiously against the metal of the sliding door. Somebody must hear that!

But maybe that “somebody” was the person who had locked me in here…

I can’t get out. Nobody will ever let me out.

“You’re afraid,” I cried out to myself.

Oh yes, I’m afraid. I’m so afraid…

Copyright 1959 by C. Kage Booton.

First Paperback Library printing December 1965.

I wanted to post this to show off the gorgeous cover by George Ziel. This time I know who the artist is because Lynn Munroe  has recently forwarded me a link to a booklist he has compiled on cover art by George Ziel, a concentration camp survivor born Jerzy Zielezinski  in Poland 1914, who died in Connecticut USA in 1982.

Fans of the Paperback Library Gothics, as well as the Dell Mary Roberts Rhinehart covers, will instantly recognise George Ziel’s hauntingly beautiful artwork. Very few of George Ziel’s covers were credited on the published books but Lynn has done some exhaustive research, creating a checklist with an amazing collection of covers by this artist.

The booklist of George Ziel covers can be found here: 

http://lynn-munroe-books.com/list62/George_Ziel-home/Ziel_checklist-home.htm

And a fascinating biog of the artist, including some great background information on Paperback Library gothic cover art, can be found here:

http://lynn-munroe-books.com/list62/GEORGE_ZIEL2.htm

Thanks Lynn!

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The Woman Without A Name

Beware, Penelope!

The mysterious madwoman had come to warn her against Sir Jeffrey Wilstoun, master of Holyoak – the arrogantly handsome young man who had brought her to the big, gloomy house to tutor his two strangely precocious little sisters.

If the warning were to be believed, Penelope was employed by a man who would sooner bury a secret – and the one who discovered it – than allow it to be revealed…

Written by Laurence M. Janifer. First Signet printing August 1966.

Ho hum, I really wanted to love this one (gorgeous cover and all) but if I’m honest, Women Without a Name was as fatally flawed as any tragic gothic anti-hero, and not half as much fun to curl up in bed with.

Where to begin? There’s a governess (Penelope) and some children and an isolated house somewhere in the middle of God knows where. So far so good. Then our heroine stumbles upon the Big Scary Mystery – someone is in the attic! But not the mad woman, no, she’s wandering about in the woods, wearing a multicoloured shawl (therefore demonstrating she is hopelessly insane) mumbling about how evil it all is.

Enter our Lord of the Manor, Jeffrey, who takes a mere 50 pages to fall helplessly in love and propose to Penelope. Unfortunately for us, it takes her twice as long to actually go look in the attic to find out what all the fuss is about. Turns out there’s an evil twin (and I usually LOVE evil twins) which somehow proves our hero is not evil and therefore marriageable material. Penelope faints, then wakes up, then decides she wants to get married too. And so we all live happily ever after. Sigh.

I googled the title of this book half expecting to find not very much at all – but it transpires Laurence M. Janifer is a well known SF writer with a career spanning over 50 years. (More information on the author and some reviews can be found HERE.) Hopefully The Woman Without a Name is Laurence M. Janifer’s only gothic. To be fair the writing is ok, it’s just that he took every cliché he could think of before jumbling them all together without really giving much thought to the development or pacing of the story. At 26,000 words it’s an easy afternoon’s reading – but not necessarily an enjoyable one. Two out of five stars.

*STOP PRESS* For some extra information, check out the comments sent in by Ruben below. The artwork is by George Ziel. Ruben has also posted his collection of paperback art on the web, which can be drooled over HERE.

Ruben, thank you for the info and you have some gorgeous artwork (almost!) worth selling my soul for!

Strangers In The Night

STRANGE SOUNDS

SINISTER STRANGERS

SECRET PLOTS

These nightmares haunt lovely Lesley Larkin at Medwick Manor!

Lesley, a young lawyer, arrives at the old mansion with her client, Elsa Medwick, to handle the sale of the family home. Expecting to stay only a few days, she is suddenly trapped in a murderous web of sinister greed. Terror makes Medwick an accursed place. Surrounded by hostile strangers plotting her death, Lesley learns she can trust no one – not even her own client.

Risking her life, Lesley struggles desperately to unravel the mystery of Medwick Manor before her own murder adds to its growing legend of evil.

Written by Genevieve St. John. Paperback Library Edition first printing January 1967.

Another fab Paperback Library cover to drool over. This has got to be one of the  most  fantastical houses ever conceived and makes non-Euclidean geometry look positively Bauhausian. Her lipstick is kind of gorgeous too. There is no signature for the artist unfortunately.

I started reading this in the bath this morning. Our heroine, the young and lovely Lesley Larkin, has been working with a firm of fusty lawyers for over a year now and is getting a bit fed up of being stuck in their huge reference library, researching boring bits of legal minutiae for the senior partners. So when she is given the opportunity to help an important client sell their home she jumps at the chance. Her client is the glamorous Elsa Medwick and Lesley is to accompany her to the isolated Medwick Manor in order to assist with the negotiations.

However, what starts off as a week out of the office, enjoying the luxury of a grand old mansion on the seacoast, is very quickly  turning out to be the job from hell for Lesley. Her client, Elsa, is a spoilt risk-taker who is ‘not without some disturbing elements’. Then there is Medwick Manor itself – charmless, rundown and currently tenanted by Elsa’s childhood governess, a sinister woman with a strange hold over Elsa. And there is something very peculiar about Alan Crandall, the over-enthusiastic buyer who has just arrived with some unfeasibly heavy handbaggage.

Ho Hum. Such are the perils of  mixing business with pleasure and I have the feeling Lesley is in for an eventful week or two.

So far Strangers in the Night is ticking all the right boxes – we have an isolated ‘architectural monstrosity’ of a setting peopled with characters all ready, willing and able to kill each other at the slightest provocation.  I don’t know much about Genevieve St John but I have enjoyed her books before. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if she has worked in the legal profession herself. Three out of five stars.

Twilight Return

Stars Reincarnated

Beautiful Marge Trotter – with Cancerian impulsiveness and love for travel – accepts a summer job which takes her to the fabulous French Riviera and to Carcassonne, the place of her birth. There she becomes the focus of a bizarre contest – that involes Emilio Santori, a composer who has been dead for forty years.

Marge is told to unearth information about the notorious Santori. With her fascination for the occult, she is drawn into a series of tempestuous romantic encounters – and in a terrifyng climax discovers a love so wildly passionate that it reaches beyond the grave…

Twilight Return – An Astrological Gothic Novel for Cancer.

The Zodiac Gothic Series

An amazing new line of astrological romantic suspense novels in which the signs of the Zodiac determine the ultimate destinies.

SYDNEY OMARR, the internationally acclaimed astrologer, casts the horoscope for each heroine, to illuminate the interplay of human character and astrological influence.

Watch for your birth sign’s appearance in future editions of this star studded Ballentine series.

Written by John Kimbro. First edition Ballentine Gothic July 1976. Cover art George Ziel.

Wow, what a fantastic idea – a Zodiac Gothic series where the events are influenced by astrological birth signs. There is even an introduction where astrologer Sydney Omarr casts the chart for Marge Trotter, Twilights Return’s heroine, the last paragraph of which informs us –

“Yes, we have here a complicated, confused, talented, stubborn, loyal heroine. by September 1975, Marjorie finds peace through acheivement, is vindicated by faith displayed in her ‘murderer,’ solves a mystery, and obtains her father’s approval concerning love and family situations.”

The introduction alone is a story in itself!

This is the only Zodiac Gothic I possess and I haven’t got round to reading it yet. The other titles in this series are:

HOME TO THE NIGHT (Capricorn) by Julia Thatcher

THE WAITING EYES (Aquarius) by Evelyn Bond

TEMPLE OF DARKNESS (Pisces) by Marilyn Ross

FEAR STALKS THE BAYOU (Aries) by Juanita Coulson

MOORMIST (Taurus) by Georgina Ferrand

TEMPEST AT SUMMER’S END (Gemini) by Julia Thatcher

DRUMS OF DARKNESS (Leo) by Marion Zimmer Bradley

CAVE OF THE MOANING WIND (Virgo) by Jean DeWeese

INHERIT THE MIRAGE (Libra) By Julia Thatcher