I have never had any interest in reading Audrey Rose, one of the quintessential bestselling horror novels of the mid-1970s. When I worked in a used bookstore in the late '80s it seemed everybody wanted to trade in their busted-ass copy; we had dozens of them (along with other '70s moldy-oldies Jaws, The Flame and the Flower, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Love Story - that last title many Americans' sole enriching literary experience of the decade, Harlan Ellison once said). "A novel of reincarnation" makes it sound more like "housewife horror" to me than anything cool, bloody, or really fucked up. I was probably inclined to think so by Stephen King, who wrote in Danse Macabre (1981):
Most of them [horror novels] are just downright bad, and I have no taste for the job of beating the field's most spectacular violators with their shortcomings. If you want to read John Saul and Frank De Felitta, go right ahead. It's your three-fifty.
Three-fifty?! Ha. To this day I have no idea who author Frank De Felitta is or what happened to him. I certainly don't think of him as a forgotten horror novelist awaiting rediscovery. Sorry, Frank. Blame Stephen King. Blame the decidedly mediocre film version. But little girls on fire--! Man, after The Exorcist, everybody must've hated 'em. I cannot deny the creepy, malevolent, and unsettling image of Audrey Rose herself on the cover of the book, which I'm sure many folks my age remember sitting on their mom's nightstand or taking up the racks at the grocery store. I know I do. And that makes for some good vintage horror cover art.
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