PG Bloodhouse is a fellow vintage bookseller and horror lover. I would buy everything in his shop if I could, so I was delighted when he agreed to share with me his two favourite, most creepiest horror paperback finds.
Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse
Robert Aickman is a terribly underrated writer, whose 48 ‘strange stories’ were belatedly reissued in four lovely editions by Faber & Faber in 2014. With the boost in popularity, earlier editions were suddenly very scarce.
I have only seen this 1968 edition of ‘Powers of Darkness’ once and have held on to it with dear life. As lovely as the recent reissues are, modern book covers just cannot achieve that sense of uneasiness that 60s and 70s design could.
This cover particularly reflects Aickman’s style. His stories are unsettling and Aickman has no intention of making things easy for the reader. Often the scene is mundane, with just a sense that there is something wrong.
This subtlety was overshadowed in late 70s and 80s by the novels of more blatant British horror mongers Clive Barker and James Herbert. Their work often spelt out the horror; told you what you should be scared of.
Aickman dropped you in a peculiar place and left you to it. Alone.
I am hard pushed to think of anything more terrifying than a little girl in an old-man mask, ascending a stately home staircase towards me. This atrocity pretty much sums up what I love about 70s book cover design.
I have always thought that horror is best served in small doses. The short story gives you little time to get accustomed with the characters and surroundings. Less chance to get comfortable.
It also means more is left to the imagination – something very few horror writers can achieve over the course of a novel. Shirley Jackson being one notable exception.
More Tales of Unease, from 1969, was the second of a trilogy of anthologies edited by John Burke, more famous for his novelisations and TV writing. This collection of stories was adapted for TV in 1970, most episodes of which were subsequently lost.
You can also find him and his wonderfully creepy covers on Instagram (which is where I discovered him)!
Halloween sale now on, so go check out his shop!