Hey there! Today's post is going along with the anthology theme AND along with the stuff-I-found-at-Goodwill theme! It's a goocher! Let's take a look at some books I picked up that were put out by Whitman publishing in the 60s!
Before we move on I just want to take a moment to drink in the covers of the three books together for just a moment. These things were cheaply made and distributed back in the 60s, and I had quite a few of Whitman's books on my bookshelf as a kid, including versions of the Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe, and a few others. They all have the same lightweight feel due to pasteboard covers and bindings that are more glue than stitching. But just look at that cover art! Let's get a closer look.
The first book is called "Tales to Tremble By" and I cannot figure out who the cover artist is but LOOK AT THIS THING.
It's a wraparound cover, but the back isn't nearly as exciting as the bizarre, clawed spirit on the front.
None of the stories are dud by any means. They're all creepy and atmospheric and each one deals with a different type of haunting. I would say the slimy water-logged ghost of "The Upper Berth" and the ever classic "The Judge's House" by Bram Stoker are my absolute favorites though. But honestly, there's not a stinker in the whole bunch. I was very pleased!
I love the introductions to these books as well. You can really tell someone was having fun and wanted to get the reader excited.
The interior illustrations are nothing too terribly exciting. It's probably no coincidence that the illustrations I liked the best came from the stories I also liked the best, but honestly, these are the two most exciting illustrations in the book. Here's one from "The Judge's House".
And here is a picture from "The Upper Berth". The interior illustrations were credited to Shannon Stimweis and while they are serviceable... they aren't amazing.
The second volume in the Tales to Tremble By series us the ante in almost every way. This cover is INSANE. Additionally it references the stories in the book! Upon reading each story within I would then scan the cover to see where the reference was hidden in the details on the cover. It also helps that the artwork, on both the cover and interiors, done by Gordon Laite, is much more dynamic, animated, and eerie.
And while the first book was good, the second book is even BETTER. Every single story seems to have a bit more bite to it than the last. "The Red Lodge" is a genuinely disturbing story of a family's holiday in a house haunted by some particularly repulsive spirits. "Sredni Vashtar" is a mean spirited little tale with a very satisfying ending. "The Extra Passenger" is a creepfest all around, featuring justice from beyond the grave, and "The Book" was a deliciously dark entry featuring the downfall of a family man due to some late night reading. "The Voice in the Night" is one of the earliest examples of disturbing "body horror" that I can think of. I would say the real star of this volume was "God Grante That She Lye Stille" however, as it spent the most time building atmosphere and had some genuinely shocking twists and turns.
Even the introduction to the second collection kicks it up a notch, suggesting that by simply reading the stories within you may end up summoning the things featured in the stories to haunt you.
Here we have the boy from "Sredni Vashtar" worshipping at the altar of his fearsome "god".
The illustrations from "God Grante That She Lye Stille" were so good I included two of them. Here's the narrator visiting the gravestone that holds the titular phrase. Dig that spooky spirit face watching him though!
The trippy patterns and facial expressions in this illustration just make it gorgeous.
And here we have the father from "The Book" just absolutely losing his s**t. I LOVE the curlicues used to detail his face here.
If this book feels cold when I first touch it? Awesome! I love these little details. You never see stuff like this anymore.
Also, the introduction to "SHUDDERS" isn't above pretty much just flat-out threatening you with bodily harm. So... enjoy!
I have to say there are few things I enjoy more than curling up with a good collection of supernatural tales for the Halloween season, and these old anthologies really hit the spot! The next time you're out thrifting, don't discount older looking collection of ghost stories because you think they'll be to dusty or out-of-date. These are some of the best kinds of tales to read as October progresses!
I'm doing this countdown as a part of the official Countdown to Halloween, so be sure to pop over there and look and see who else is participating this year.
That's it for tonight kids! I'll be back soon with more Groaning Goodwill Goodies... so until then, Happy Haunting!