Tenebrous Tomes & Lurid Literature

My financial affairs have been rather deficient lately, so my weekly to bi-weekly trips to my beloved used bookstores have been curtailed quite significantly. Last week I did, nonetheless, manage a trip to the big Half Price Books here in Austin on North Lamar. As is usually the case I did manage to find more books than I could afford, so I had to bypass the books on the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry that I was eyeing. There was also a really nice book in the rare book room about Amicus Films that at a whopping $150.00 was out of my price range. Perusing the collectible Sci-Fi section, however, did net me some rather obscure goodies with exceptionally lurid covers. I am a sucker for old vintage pulp horror paperbacks, especially the ones that have to do with witchcraft and occultism…and the trashier and sleazier the cover art, the better.

My first find was a nifty little novel from 1969 about black magic entitled, of course, “Black Easter” by James Blish. After glancing at the title on the book’s spine, I just knew the cover was going to suit my perverse sensibilities and it did not disappoint with its wonderfully Satanic charm. All of the required trappings were there, including candles, ancient grimoire, and skull. And this skull has little devil horns to boot! Huzzah!

From the back cover blurbs:

“In the sulphurous wake of Rosemary’s Baby has come a book on the ultimate feat of black magic that makes Ira Levin’s bestseller book look like The Five Little Peppers.”  – This World

“Black Easter is a frightening book, full of information on black magic, but frightening, really frightening, even to those who do not believe in devils or demons.”  – San Antonio Express

Next up, I found a copy of “The Ka of Gifford Hillary” by the UK’s master of the macabre and preeminent authority on all things witchy and devilish, Dennis Wheatley. If you are unfamiliar with the man, his sinister influence can be felt throughout much of 60s-70s era British horror cinema (Hammer Films adapted both Wheatley’s “The Devil Rides Out” and “To The Devil…A Daughter” for the screen) and ultimately on the creation of that little-known genre of music that we now call heavy metal, as I’m sure Messrs. Iomi, Butler, Osbourne, and Ward would gladly attest to.

From the back cover:

“Britain is bitterly divided, torn internally by a crisis of national security. At the Government’s request, Sir Gifford Hillary throws himself into the secret struggle against the might of Soviet Russia. But danger is closer than even he suspects. Unknown to him, a tangled web of hatred and betrayal is already reaching out from Longshot Hall itself. Then, on the night of 9th September, an event occurs which shatters the bounds of human experience. Gifford Hillary witnesses his own death…”

I now own two copies of “The Devil Rides Out” and a copy of “Gateway To Hell”. My hunt for the rest of Wheatley’s black magic titles continues…

7 Responses to “Tenebrous Tomes & Lurid Literature”

  1. Paul Lander Says:

    Nice, I love the old hammer films…they have that dark and gothic charm that you just don’t find any more. I’ll have to check on those two you mentioned, I know I saw one of them but it’s been awhile and they had quite a few as you know lol

    • Hammer Horror films are some of my all-time favorites. I can literally watch them over and over again. Also check out Taste The Blood of Dracula, Twins of Evil, and The Vampire Lovers.

  2. Love the BLACK EASTER cover! I’m a sucker for vintage horror paperbacks too…

    • Thank you, sir! I just checked out your blog and must commend you on a job well done. Now I have another great resource for information on old pulp and horror novels. By the way, I also put a link to your site in my blogroll. Cheers!

  3. I was brought up on Wheatley.His star seems to have faded sadly and his writing is harder for a modern reader to get into.No doubt he did iinfluence metal music as at least the older acts were brought up on him also along of course Hammer Films without doubt.

  4. In passing Wheatleys old house in UK is in a state of disrepair at the moment with threat of demolition hopefully being warded off.Interested readers might like to look it up.As befits Wheatley it looks a pretty creepy place that might have a part in a Hammer Film itself.

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