A desperate impulse to escape an unhappy romance sent Paula Stanhope fleeing down an unfamiliar road. She instictively recoiled from the monstrous, evil looking old house at its end, but she needed help.
She could not know that her innocent request to use the telephone would imprison her in a nightmare world of terror, at the mercy of madwomen who had no intention of letting her leave – alive…..
Blackhall had slept undisturbed among its wild and desolate surroundings since tragedy claimed its inhabitants twenty years ago – or so Susan Leyton had thought. With mounting horror she discovered that the ominous-looking castle housed a disembodied voice that demanded the young girl’s death – and a cast of characters from a distorted fairy tale who obeyed its every word.
Written by Miriam Lynch. First Ace printing March 1976.
Two gothics for the price of one in this edition of two novella’s written by Miriam Lynch. Both feature unlucky but plucky young women imprisoned against their will, battling to escape from gloomy, dark houses.
In The Deadly Rose, Paula Stanhope’s car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. She wanders up to the nearest (only) big, gloomy mansion at the end of the road, in the hope of finding a telephone to summon help. Instead she is poisoned and held prisoner by a couple of evil old ladies who will do anything, even commit murder, in order to protect the secret stash of hallucinogenic herbs growing in their hothouse.
Amber Twilight has a similar theme – Susan Leyton ventures out one wintry afternoon, to take some photographs of the seemingly empty ‘gloom-shrouded house’ that is Blackhall. Mistaken for a member of the press, and therefore considered a threat, she gets hit on the head by a misshapen dwarf, dragged into the house and held captive by the odd assortment of characters living there. To add to her troubles, a disembodied voice from behind the drapery keeps urging them to kill her.
Out of the two, Amber Twilight was my favourite as the plot in Deadly Rose relied just that little too much on coincidence, especially toward the end – when chimneys started falling onto the bad guys, conveniently aiding and abetting our heroine’s escape. Both stories contain some great descriptive passages and I did quite like the quirky weirdness of the plots.
Four out of five stars – With extra marks given for the fact the cover art could actually relate to the stories!