The Deadly Rose and Amber Twilight


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!



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.