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.