Saturday, February 07, 2009

Vampires, Werewolves & Other Demons, by Bernhardt J. Hurwood

(pb; 1972: YA horror anthology)

From the back cover:

"Lock your doors and bar your windows against THINGS you'd rather not see or hear. Turn down all the lights except the one you need to read by. Then, let your mind drift back to other lands, other times, when terrors rose with the moon and unspeakable monsters stalked the land.

"Thirty tales resurrected from the mouldering vaults of horror, from the crypts of fear, to send old-fashioned chills down your spine."

Review:

Good primer for young readers new to horror writing. For the experienced horror aficionado, it's a worthwhile -- if simplified, tell-don't-show -- read.

All of the thirty stories contained in this short anthology -- which are little more than morality tales with a minimum of gothic window-dressing -- are über-short, told-in-broad-strokes pieces. Hurwood used this tell-don't-show approach in a few of the stories in another, less generic (non-YA) anthology, Monsters Galore. This style of tell-don't-show writing is interesting in a dry, intellectual way, but probably won't engage readers used to fuller, more descriptive terror tales.

One of the stories in Vampires, Werewolves & Other Demons also appeared in Monsters Galore, namely: "The Vampire at the Inn" (which was listed in Monsters as "The Corpse at the Inn" and credited to Pu Sung Ling and, again, adapted by Hurwood).

Monster's "The Purple Terror" (by Fred M. White) gets a genericized, character-less, less-story-oriented retelling as "The Vampire Plant" in Vampires; Monster's "The Vampire Cat of Nabeshima" gets the same treatment in Vampires, listed there as "The Demon Cat". Hurwood wisely simplified these last two tales for a younger audience, though the genericized versions aren't nearly as interesting as the character-based longer versions in Monsters.

My favorite stories in Vampires: "The Curious Vampires of Bohemia and Moravia"; "The Wine Demon"; "The Two Corpses"; "The Beautiful Mara"; "The Last Meal of Igor Malikov" "The Were-Tiger of Slim"; "The Return of the Werewolf"; and "The Lonely Man and the Fox Princess".

Good anthological offering, this. Check it out.

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