Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Kitty Telefair Gothic Series by Florence Stevenson (1971-1977)

If you've been following Too Much Horror Fiction or have read Paperbacks from Hell, you're likely aware of the scarcity of some of the titles talked about and the oft-times inflated prices online booksellers afix to those books. These disposable artifacts from a bygone age often are going for $75 to $100, and even more in some cases. To be blunt, it sucks. Mea culpa, and all that. Certainly collectors of all stripes run into this issue.
I also want to say that these inflated prices in no way reflect the "literary" quality of those books. Like, at all. The cost only reflects the scarcity and a near-mint condition (at least one hopes). Any good collector must be well aware of this, and proceed accordingly when opening the wallet. Don't expect that dropping 50 bucks on a rare book will get you the reading experience of a lifetime... alas.

Which brings me to these Florence Stevenson (1922-1991) Gothic paperbacks, the virtually impossible to find Kitty Telefair series. According to the much-missed blogger Curt Purcell, this occult series features terrific vintage Sixties and Seventies flavor while engaging in classic horror tropes like vampires, sorcerers, and past lives. Rare and good? Mmm-boy, sounds delicious!

According to Purcell, Kitty herself is a kind of psychic Nancy Drew, but what I really dig about these books is, of course, the cover art (all uncredited except Horror from the Tombs, by a George Bush). Candles, castles, bats, spooky windows, flowing gowns, widened eyes, sexy Seventies women, mustachioed mystery men, blurbs about The Exorcist: all the Gothic accoutrements one could ask for.

Also impossible to find is any info on Ms. Stevenson herself, which kinda drives me crazy. A few of these titles turn up very occasionally on Abebooks if you have a sharp eye and email alerts—same goes for many of her other Seventies Gothics; I myself only own two of her Eighties horror titles—but these are the kinds of paperbacks for which you must haunt thrift stores, garage sales, and junk heaps, cursed for eternity.


Graham said...

Here's hoping that someone decides to republish the books. It sounds like the quality may be there to justify it.

highwayknees said...

I read a Florence Stevenson novel in 1969 called A Feast of Eggshells. It is NOT from this gothic series you have featured but instead a stand-alone book. It left n impression to this day -but unfortunately I must have liked it so much I shared it with some one and didnt get it back. Been searching for it since. Ive seen it listed online for a ridiculous amount. The hunt continues...