Post by cauldronbrewer on May 31, 2012 19:46:29 GMT
Rereading Greye La Spina's "The Dead Wagon" last night prompted me to look back at her fiction. She published four serialized pieces and more than a dozen shorter pieces in Weird Tales between 1924 and 1951, plus some stories in other magazines (most notably The Thrill Book). Though a few anthologists have worked to keep her horror fiction in print, for the most part it's been neglected--unduly, I believe. Her writing was more traditional than that of more famous WT writers such as Lovecraft, Howard and Smith, but she made good use of standard horror themes such as werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. Unlike some WT regulars, she also had a knack for creating sympathetic characters.
Here's a partial (and not necessarily 100% reliable) listing of her genre fiction cobbled together from various sources, with original magazine publication dates (serials are in italics; works I've read are in red). I'd be curious to hear about any potential additions.
Wolf of the Steppes (1919, The Thrill Book) The Wax Doll (1919, The Thrill Book) The Ultimate Ingredient (1919, The Thrill Book) From Over the Border (1919, The Thrill Book) The Haunted Landscape (1919, The Thrill Book) The Broken Idol (1919, The Thrill Book) The Tortoise-Shell Cat (1924, Weird Tales) The Last Cigarette (1925, Weird Tales) The Remorse of Professor Panebianco (1925, Weird Tales) The Scarf of the Beloved (1925, Weird Tales) The Last Cigarette (1925, Weird Tales) Invaders from the Dark (a.k.a. Shadow of Evil; 1925, Weird Tales) The Gargoyle (1925, Weird Tales) Fettered (1927, Weird Tales) A Suitor from the Shades (1927, Weird Tales) The Dead Wagon (1927, Weird Tales) The Portal to Power (1930, Weird Tales) The Devil's Pool (1932, Weird Tales) The Sinister Paining (1934, Weird Tales) The Rat Master (1934, Weird Tales) The Deadly Theory (1942, Weird Tales) Death Has Red Hair (1942, Weird Tales) Great Pan Is Here (1943, Weird Tales) The Antimacassar (1949, Weird Tales) Old Mr. Wiley (1951, Weird Tales)
There's a good essay on La Spina by John Pelan here:
Post by cauldronbrewer on Jun 1, 2012 15:01:50 GMT
Greye La Spina is probably best known for Invaders from the Dark, an old-fashioned but entertaining werewolf story. Its heroine is Portia Differdale, a plucky young widow who learned all about occult lore from her first (sham) marriage. Now she must protect her new fiance, Owen Edwardes, from the attentions of Irma Andreyevna Tchernova, a beautiful but sinister Russian wolf-in-princess-clothing.
Invaders was originally serialized in Weird Tales, appearing in the April, May, and June 1925 issues. In 1960, Arkham House published a revised version in book form.
In 1966, Paperback Library reprinted the novel under a more prosaic (but Gothic-romance-friendlier) title: Shadow of Evil.
Now it's back in print, thanks to a 2010 Ramble House edition that reverts to the original title:
In 1936, La Spina revisited the werewolf theme in "The Devil's Pool" (my favorite story of hers--more about that later).
According to Brian Frost's excellent The Monster with a Thousand Faces (which I've been reading this weekend), La Spina also wrote a story titled "Vampire Bite" that Bull's-Eye Detective magazine published in 1939.
Post by cauldronbrewer on Jun 3, 2012 17:12:59 GMT
The third installment of Robert Weinberg's Lost Fantasies series includes facsimile reprints of two of La Spina's best stories.
The Gargoyle (A Novel of Devil Worship) Handsome young artist Luke Porter accepts a job as an assistant to Cagliostro Moderno (born Herbert Binney), a phony occultist. Together they travel to Fanewold, the home of the mysterious black magician Guy Fane, his mother, and a beautiful girl named Sybil. Soon, both Luke and Cagliostro find themselves prisoners of the ghastly Fane, who seeks a new vessel for his foul soul. Meanwhile, Luke falls in love with Sybil.
This one's full of pulpy thrills.
The Devil's Pool Mason Hardy journeys to old Eli Baumann's farm to discover why his fiance Selene has ditched him. There, he finds not only Baumann and Selene but also the tormented Harry Epstein, the youthful Janie, and the evil Lem Schwartz. Both Selene and Harry have become werewolves through the evil magic of the devil's pool. All of the farm's residents are the virtual prisoners of Schwatrz.
Even better than the first story. Also reprinted in the November 1965 issue of the Magazine of Horror.
The Devil's Pool Mason Hardy journeys to old Eli Baumann's farm to discover why his fiance Selene has ditched him.
Whoops--Hardy's the prospective best man, not the bridegroom.
Of La Spina's early stories published in The Thrill Book, I've read two:
Wolf of the Steppes Vera, a young Russian woman, is terrorized by her evil guardian, who is sort of like Rasputin if Rasputin had also been a werewolf. A pair of doctors come to her rescue.
This is a very old-fashioned but entertaining story, told in epistolary form. Peter Ruber included it in his anthology, Arkham's Masters of Horror, along with an informative author biography (the most intriguing detail is that La Spina once told August Derleth that she had written other stories in Weird Tales under pseudonyms).
The Wax Doll Poor little Anice Butterworth has two well meaning but highly restrictive parents. When someone gives her a doll, the parents take her devotion to it as a sign that she's turning her back on God. When they take the doll away, however, they learn to their heartbreak just how much she loves it.
This one, a real tear-jerker, appears in Mike Ashley's Unforgettable Ghost Stories by Women Writers.
I found this fun review of Shadow of Evil on the interwebs and particularly enjoyed this pulpy passage:
the mysterious, the sensuous, the carnivorous Princess Irma Andreyevna Tchernova. Swathed in furs, her eyes glowing garnet in the gloom, she has a manner that many find alluring, coupled with a sleight of hand as fast as she is fair – linger just a little too long in her presence and you may find yourself the unwary recipient of a strange looking flower pinned to your buttonhole – a foul smelling, fleshy bloom that serves a deadly purpose.
No man can escape her fast-fingered charms and it’s Owen in particular she has set her glittery-eyed sights on. Though many find her pointy-toothed smile irresistible, it only serves to sap the sunlight from Aunt Sophie’s day and her heart sinks each time she sees the hapless Owen falling ever deeper under the princess’s spell.
Post by cauldronbrewer on Aug 23, 2021 22:15:36 GMT
My Love-Haunted Heart is a great blog. The Paperback Library edition of Shadow of Evil is difficult to find; I had to settle for a copy that was literally duct-taped together (I was able to partially restore it).
Agreed. It's a shame Sara hasn't updated it in some years — I'm not sure, but I think she may have become a gothic/romantic novelist in the meantime? A few of us had the good fortune to meet her at a pulp fair circa My Love Haunted Heart's most active years. Pretty sure we all ended up in a pub just for a change.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.