The Caldwell Shadow

“My daughter has not uttered a word for four years. Someone, somehow, has to break whatever spell possesses her.”

Mr. Caldwell looked thin and drawn as he confided his desperation to Janelle Farrington, R.N. The beautiful young psychiatric nurse was his last hope. She must try to save his daughter Nadine from the strange silence that had overcome her that dreadful day of her mother’s death.

Janelle looked gently at the distraught father. “Tell me,” she asked, “what is her attitude toward you, sir?”

“I would think,” said Mr Caldwell, “that if the proper opportunity arose, my daughter would kill me…”

Warner Paperback Library Edition. First Printing September 1973. Second Printing August 1975. Cover illustration by Vic Prezio.

Thought I’d share this lovely cover by Vic Prezio. There is something wonderfully eerie about that single gravestone, poised by the edge of the forest, as if quietly waiting for something – or someone. I’ve not read this novel yet so I don’t know whether the ghostly figure next to it is a phantom, mysterious stranger or some awful future vision of the heroine herself. Could be, as with many of my gothics, the cover art has nothing whatsoever to do with the story!


Image of a Ghost

There – in Paris Match – were photographs of THE GHOST OF HER MOTHER!

The first photograph showed a swirling mass halfway down a staircase. In the next, a shape began to emerge. There, in the third, stood my mother, who had died eighteen months ago, wearing a dress from the Forties. I remembered that dress! In the fourth shot, the image swirled again, dissolving.

The accompanying story reported that these pictures had been taken by a respected artist in Maine. His wife had seen the ghost, and the shots had been developed and printed before witnesses. It was no hoax. I must go to Maine and discover for myself why my mother’s spirit had returned…

Written by Dorothy Daniels. First printing December 1973. This Third printing May 1976. Cover art Vic Prezio.

A former actress and schoolteacher, Dorothy Daniels wrote some 150 novels. I have already reviewed the Strange Paradise series, which I enjoyed and Romany Curse (written as Suzanne Somers) which I didn’t.

A quick flick through the pages shows Image of a Ghost has all the right ingredients for a gothic – a beautiful, orphaned heroine,  a haunted house by a lake and a handsome love interest living in the woods called Steve.

Here’s an excerpt from inside the front cover:

“Look,” I cried. “Don’t you see her?”

There on the path to the lake backgrounded by tall pines, stood my mother. She was enveloped in a strange, blue green light that came from nowhere. She smiled and nodded as if in approval of the love between Steve and me.

Suddenly from inside the lodge came a wild scream, so high-pitched as to be a shriek of plain terror. I looked back into the living room. Someone was on the gallery and the screaming was louder. I turned back. Where my mother had stood, bathed in that weird light, there was nothing but solid darkness.

I’m still on the fence as to whether I will read this one or not but I wanted to post it anyway as the cover art is by Vic Prezio, who created the gorgeous artwork to Curse of Deepwater by Christine Randell.


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.