Sunday, April 22, 2012

Legacy of Evil

Boy I read a lot this weekend. I've already mentioned some of the short stories I read, but in addition to those by Ramsey Campbell and William Campbell Gault, I also read a couple by Bill Pronzini (the Nameless Detective) as well as a whole bunch of other folks in the Black Wings of Cthulhu anthology. Reading and watching all the Dark Shadows stuff put me in the mood for some more Gothic trappings so I decided to start another of the Gothic romances that Frank Belknap Long wrote under the pen name Lyda Belknap Long. Legacy of Evil may be the best yet, with a strong plot, an engaging heroine, and more action oriented suspense scenes than the other three I've read. There's a harrowing scene where the heroine awakes in a seaside cavern, wedged in between some rocks and the tide is coming in and will soon fill the cave with water. Long makes you feel her terror in the claustrophobic setting. Long's trademark dark, creepy atmosphere is laid on nice and heavy in this one too, including quite a bit of stuff that reads like his more well known horror yarns. Check this out: "Only the sea could give up its dead with their eyes fish-white and staring, and with seaweed tangled in their hair. Bloated and dripping wet, but more recognizable than a corpse that has lain for a long time underground. Only the sea could preserve the dead in quite so terrible a way. But the night had been shrouded in mist and darkness. Could he have seen, from the topmost room, a wave battered form on the beach or the rocks far below? Could the dead arise from the sea and fly through the air, taloned shapes of nightmare?" Nice, eh? There's also a lot of talk about ghosts and zombies and creatures from the sea. This book sounds more like Long than Long trying to write what he thought a Gothic should sound like. Legacy of Evil came out in 1971, five years after Long's first Gothic, So Dark a Heritage, so perhaps he had grown more comfortable with the form. Like a couple of the other FBL Gothics, the romance element isn't that big a part of the story, so maybe he was just writing to his own strengths, emphasizing the scary over the mushy. In any case, this one comes the closest so far to a "Lovecraftian" Gothic romance. Still a couple left to read though, so who knows what I may find?

2 comments:

Sara said...

This one sounds great Charles - another book to add to my wants list. The cover's lovely too - reminds me in style to the cover art on The Terror Trap by Willo Davis Roberts.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I think you'll like it Sara. It's a lot of fun. I've managed to get all the Lyda Belknap Long books now except one.