John Crawford – Dark Legion (John Spencer & Co, a Supernatural special, 1967, 158 pages)
In the centre of the Standing Stones, remains of some prehistoric temple on top of Cranston's Hill, a few miles north of the tiny village of Redforde, Malcom Amberley had been found dead, fingers clenched around the curiously ornamented hilt of a strange dagger driven deep into his heart. And over the whole village there hung a curtain of evil, of supernatural fear which touched the lives of everyone living there and plunged the dead man's brother into a nightmare of mystery and terror when he came to Redforde to attend his brother's funeral.
Did Malcom Amberley commit suicide as the coroner proclaimed, or did some evil force still remain viable in the area, forcing him towards a mysterious death? Gradually, Terence Amberley traced a bizarre pattern of events which embraced the unexplained deaths of several villagers over the years, uncovering an age-old prophecy which now seemed on the point of fulfilment, reaching across the centuries for revenge.
And somewhere in the village lay the focus of this evil power, drawing it inexorably to ti from the dark well of years – and from far beyond the grave.
This is John Glasby doing one of his last books for Badger, and it is competently written. Surely better than many of his collegue the Reverend.
But it is dull and bloodless. The plot barely functions as folk horror, the evil is evil because it has to be evil, and in its roots this is all kind of lifted from movies like "City of the Dead". At the end the vikar does an ad hoc exorcism, and all is well and every satanist has forgotten that he was a satanist next day. (Which in this case means he danced in a hood in the Standing Stones and not much more.) This is all so thoroughly lame and forgettable.
I only needed this for a project, to do a comparison with the translated edition. Which is here:
(I am convinced I have seen this cover on its original somewhere, but can't remember. Does anyone know this?)
It was surprisingly easy to get and comparable cheap too. 6 Pounds plus postage from the UK.
I am no fan of the Badger stuff, so don't take my word on this. I know the circumstances under which they were produced, and I guess it is horrible unfair, but everything I read so far of them - mostly Fanthorpe - was like some YA stuff. Only that today's YA stuff is better realized. I was tempted to buy Glasby's collection of Mythos stories from Ramble House, the one which should have been published by Arkham House back them. But after reading a few of the stories in other collections, I didn't. Straight pastiches in the Derleth mold.