Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great Horror Books, Great Horror Covers

In January '80, I stepped off a plane and walked into a bookstore at LAX and was presented with this magnificent piece of art. I snapped it up immediately.

I loved the book, too. Robert McCammon had an extraordinary run for a while.

His Avon covers were the best.

One of the most sensual, spellbinding covers of any book I have seen.

And lots of Girl Power inside.

The cover of this first edition (August, '79) of William Katz's Deathdreams is so evocative and haunting.

There are few images as troubling as a drowned child.

This one doesn't stay that way, of course. "And that's the rest of the story", as Paul Harvey used to say.

A spooky, powerful, well written novel that has much in common with Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (an upcoming Peter Jackson film) and wretched crap like David S. Goyer's The Invisible.

Although it was reprinted, it never appeared with this amazing cover again.

Katz is/was a very underrated novelist.

I first read a rave review of Big Gurl (Onyx, '89) in Fangoria. It a perverted, bizarre tale of a freak who could easily be a Garbage Pail Kid.

Everything about this novel, which is very John Waters in setting and incident, is oddball.

I love it.

It wasn't reprinted, and it's not particularly easy to find, but I urge you to devote your life to engaging with it.

The unpronounceable Stchur, who wrote Paddywhack (St. Martin's Press, '84), returned in '87 with this tight, nasty little number set in rural Michigan.

It's cliched but fun.

Totally amazing Ketchum novel featuring the character 'Arthur Danse', one of Ketchum's most monstrous creations (that's saying something because he's created his fair share!).

This first edition paperback was published in '95 by Headline Book Publishing, a division of Hodder and Stoughton.

The sense of evil surrounding a child in terrible jeopardy is brilliantly conveyed, and has never left me.

One of Ketchum's darkest and least discussed.


  1. I absolutely loved the covers from the 80's. They truly were an art form unto themselves. They were lurid, cheesy and horrific at the same time.

    As for McCammon, he's written two of the best historical thrillers I've ever read, "Speaks the Nightbird" and Queen of Bedlam. Sadly like many writers of the time including John Skipp, Rick Hautala, TM Wright, and others, once the horror boon played out, they were tossed out like so much refuse. It's only been with the advances in technology over the past few years that these great writers are being rediscovered.

    Thanks for keeping these covers alive.

  2. I do own a copy of "Big Gurl" (Onyx, '89) but I have yet to read it. I gotta say that "Down On The Farm" intrigues me, as does "Paddywhack" (St. Martin's Press, '84).

  3. Scott -- please excuse my extraordinarily late reply to your post.

    Very sad that so many authors have fallen out of favor, and Mr. Hautala is dead (!)


    Authorfan -- Please try to get your mits on PADDYWHACK and DOWN ON THE FARM. Most worthwhile. I love when a reader expresses interest in these posts. They are very personal to me.