Sunday, August 14, 2016


The next in the Jules de Grandin series, and the cover is amusing as it's classified as "science fiction" and the picture has a monster in a spacesuit...and of course, there's no space aliens in it.

This is more fun from Grandin, and this was actually the first Grandin volume I ever picked up, I bought it on a family vacation as a teen and devoured it, and went bonkers trying to find the rest. As an adult, I finally finished the set with the help of Ebay.

This is more mature Quinn, and the themes could be quite more mature as well. I was surprised reading this as a teen, and even in comparison with the other books, it's a bit eyebrow-raising. There are some blatant sexual horrors here, a bit unusual for this genre. Something so sexual was usually reserved for the Spicy pulps (which dealt with a lot of suggestion, and girls running around naked) and the weird-menace subgenre (which featured sadomasochistic themes and male characters being drugged, hypnotized, or otherwise coerced into bizarre and violent BDSM situations).

So, to go down the stories...

"The Drums of Damballah" is a tale of a voodoo cult practicing in the midst of their small New Jersey town. It's pretty straightforward; they find out a local girl is part of a cult, she gets killed, then a baby is kidnapped, and they follow clues to the cult's ceremony. It's all pretty mundane, with no supernatural content. There is a nice bit at the end when Grandin compassionately allows a woman to grieve her dead son, even though they were both parts of the cult, as he feels a mother's grief is universal and should be honored.

"The Doom of the House of Phipps" involves a family curse, in which the men of an old New England family die with blood on their lips when their first born is delivered, and no Phipps man ever beholds his firstborn child. The source of the curse is a French Catholic girl whom a Phipps ancestor took as a bond-maid, and on whom the ancestor, a stern Puritan, fathered a child. Really, the cause of the curse is good old-fashioned Puritan hypocrisy! Thankfully, the last Phipps man finds a woman who is able to dismiss the curse. (This will occur later in the book...a man is saved from a dire supernatural fate by the courage of a woman who loves him.)

"Dust of Egypt" is intriguing. A brother and sister move into the house of a departed uncle, who was a collector of Egyptian antiquities. A series of strange manifestations occur, and the brother is in bad shape...and while it's not a revived mummy, it's just as bad. In this case, the real root of the problem is the late uncle's thought patterns and belief in the curses of the old tombs...which, really, can be a valid source of concern. Half the time, it's the demons of our minds that are the biggest menace.

"The Brain-Thief" really reflects small-town morality of the day. A man abandons his wife, and a woman abandons her husband, to marry. After a year of facing small-town scorn, suddenly the man returns to his ex-wife's house as if he's coming home from work, and seems to have forgotten the past year. He's horrified to find a new woman in his bed and a baby he doesn't recognize. The wife is hurt and confused, and then seems to "come to" and seek her former husband. The menace? A Hindu victim of racism, who's using his psychic mind-control gifts to disrupt the lives of wealthy Westerners. Again, a sexual note, the revelation that one has been forced and manipulated into infidelity.

"The Bride of Dewer" is the pinnacle of the sexual horrors here. A newlywed couple's honeymoon is disrupted by a strange, supernatural visitor, and husband reveals that his family's men are always told they can't marry. The menace here is Quinn's best, a pagan demon demanding droit du seigneur with any woman the men of the house marry. It's a harrowing concept, that simply marrying someone opens you up to rape by a supernatural monster...but finally, with some help, the wife's courage saves the day.

"Daughter of the Moonlight" is a lesser tale, and a bit disjointed, almost as if it were two tales merged into one. A young woman of Harrisonville society brings disaster to all around her, and she seems to be a witch of some sort, a born witch. It winds up with a scene reminiscent of Byron's fragment of a vampire tale; Quinn seems to have been very well-read.

It's a fun collection, and the sexual horrors contained within will give you a very different perspective on pulp fiction horrors. Like all the de Grandin stories, this is highly recommended.

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