Excellent covers from the novels of the late Michael Talbot, who wrote one of the more sought-after horror paperbacks of the 1980s - 1982's The Delicate Dependency - as well as these two titles, The Bog (1986) and Night Things (1988). Both were first published in hardcover by William Morrow and then put out in paperback by Jove.They're both still on my to-be-read lists...
Night Things hardcover art by Guy Kingsbury; paperback art by James Warren.
The Bog hardcover artist unknown; paperback art by Gary Ruddell.
Although this 1990 paperback by Warner Lee (aka B.W. Battin) has a 5-star rating on Amazon, It's Loose left me me unimpressed and irritated with its obvious, overly simple prose and sub-King stylings. The cover is too tritely specific for my tastes. My interest waned only a few chapters in - this was several months ago, and I have virtually no memory of what I read. Wasn't even guilty-pleasure fun. You can read a middling review of it at the blog Bloodstomach.
However I am quite enjoying the Barker stories and Masterton novel I'm reading now, so you can expect some real reviews soon!
I find this cover art truly heart-stopping. Tacky and lurid as hell, but there's something so ghastly about it, bloody fangs and all that greasy black hair, not to mention the hellish eyeball colored like an infection, that I can scarcely look away (and is that a cape buttoned around his neck?)! Well done, Leisure Books, well done.
Alexandria, Egypt - 1919
exorcism was almost complete. The priests had overcome the old man's
fierce resistance, and as if lancing a boil, had drawn the evil power
from his body. But before they could finish the ceremony of
purification, something happened - something that would change the
New York City - Today
The Forrester family was
rich, powerful and nasty - the kind of people who would steal the
pennies from a dead man's eyes. Arrogant and contemptuous, they ruined
lives as easily as they bought and sold companies. Yet they were
suddenly faced with problem: Tony Filestra. Although he was merely a
pawn in their corporate empire, Filestra had an ally more ruthless than
even the Forresters - an aged grandmother with a thirst for revenge and
the incredible power of the .... EVIL EYE
Seems I totally overlooked one fairly well-regarded novel of witchery written under a pseudonym, C.S. Cody, of an author I've never heard of named Leslie Waller. So I give you The Witching Night in all its paperback (and hardcover) glory! Some very excellent and evocative art on these. The Bantam edition from 1974 above features groovy satanic hullaballoo by artist unknown, alas. I've seen lots of post-Exorcist paperbacks from Bantam with the same cover design/font, it was a whole thing I guess.Totally cool.
This is the original '53 hardcover, art by John Hall, all boobs and sultry eyes; then below is the Lancer 1968 edition with simply marvelous witchy art by Jerome Podwil. Love the lady, love the bats, poor dude in suit and tie besieged by supernatural forces. Some of my fave horror fiction cover art of late.
Finally, the Dell 1953 first paperback, looking quite a bit like those famous pulp noir paperbacks of the day. Doesn't look too satanic, really, does it? But dig on this quote from the book I found:
Abbie brought the body of the slaughtered kitten to her mouth. I could
see the lips curl and her teeth gleam fiercely until the furry black
corpse masked her face. But I could see her throat, that long, smooth
white column, so soft, so delicately modeled in sweeping lines. I saw
it pulse as a regular muscular motion within it drew up and down in
measured rhythm. I knew what Abbie was doing. She was drinking the
And many thanks to Sara from My Love-Haunted Heart, who sent me the 1963 UK paperback cover, from Corgi Books.
I can't really think of any horror fiction I've read that features witches - I suppose Leiber's Conjure Wife counts, though - but that can't stop me from appreciating some ghastly cover art of them. Witch Child (Zebra 1987) is absolutely blood-curdling. The witch's face is horrifying enough, but then you see her skull--! Yikes. Witch House's (Del Rey 1979) cover below is just fucking terrifying. If I were that little girl I think I'd have dropped dead of fright instead of gone into a rendition of "Good Ship Lollipop."
Can't ever go wrong with skull-headed women! Thanks much to artist William Teason, who in the late '80s was shocking tasteful sensibilities with unsettlingly blank-eyed skulls on the covers of Zebra's horror line. He'd started in the early '60s illustrating the covers for Agatha Christie paperbacks published by Dell, and is even responsible for one of my favorite covers ever. The stark black backgrounds here make the skeletal ladies stand out even more; no foggy moors or misty castles impede on their ability to disturb. I don't know much - nay, anything! - about these Sharon Combes titles Caly (1980) and Cherron (1981), although one short review on Amazon described 'em as a "John Saul meets V.C. Andrews" thing, so, you know, no thanks.
But compare these Teason covers, published in 1987, to the first edition paperbacks (artist unknown) from five or six years earlier, and which were perennial finds in used bookstores of the day:
These aren't terrible, of course, but Too Much Horror Fiction must side with Mr. Teason's unholy passions...
With Grady Hendrix, I co-wrote the Stoker Award-winning PAPERBACKS FROM HELL: THE TWISTED HISTORY OF '70s AND '80s HORROR FICTION (2017) from Quirk Books. I also own a couple thousand vintage paperbacks most of which are horror but also SF, crime, vintage fiction. Always adding more to the home library!
Looking for a forgotten horror novel or short story? Remember the paperback cover art but not the title or author? Send me an email at toomuchhorrorfiction[at]gmail.com describing it and if I don't know it, one of my readers might!
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