Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scary Books – Masters of Horror edited by Alden H. Norton

Here’s a paperback delight from the swingin’ year of 1968. The cover is outstanding and I wish I knew who painted it. This was the anthology that introduced me to The Werewolf  by Clemence Housman. There are only nine stories in this slender but vital book. I paid 60 cents and tax for it at Wieboldt’s Department Store. That store always had a great selection of paperbacks. But the stand-out story in this collection was Ray Bradbury’s The Candy Skull, a pulp masterpiece from the January 1948 issue of Dime Mystery. I’ve always loved the story but in a letter to me years ago Bradbury told me: “My recollection of The Candy Skull, if I’m correct, is that it was fairly good. Most of my early Dime Mystery and Detective Stories were done when I was much too young and I hadn’t yet learned completely how to be a short story writer.” Ray was a bit hard on himself because The Candy Skull is much better than “fairly good.” The other stories in this Berkley Medallion paperback are Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker, The Transformation by Mary Shelley, The Yellow Sign by Robert W. Chambers, The Woman of the Wood by A. Merritt, Blind Man’s Bluff by H. R. Wakefield, A Piece of Linoleum by David H. Keller, and Before I Wake by Henry Kuttner. Oh boy, it’s mouthwatering to ponder these stories even after all of these years.

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