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The Terror of the Seven Crypts

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New English Library, London, 1974
(price: 30p; 112 pages)

The blurb on the back:

It is the time of the French Revolution, when Madame Guillotine has a habit of inviting all of noble birth to share her bloody altar.
One group of refugees from the misery that shrouds all of France finds shelter in an abandoned and ghost-ridden chateau. They do not realise that it hold secrets in its crypts known only to Marcel Fournier, an evil genius, and one-time partner of Marat and Robespierre.
Soon they become the target of Fournier's bizarre and terrifying deeds. Here is a crimson chiller which invokes increasing horror as each secret of the crypts is discovered, explored and overcome.

opening lines:

A late evening mist swirled from the dense forests surrounding the old chateau, drifting across the small clearing immediately fronting the slime-coated moat. Like grim fingers bluntly poking at the fading day-sky the chateau's outlines presented an ugly, monstrous picture of sombre silence.

Well, the concept's okay: it's pitched somewhere between Poe's 'The Masque of the Red Death' and Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, and it's set in the midst of the Terror (though the chronology of the French Revolution is a bit vague here). But, boy, does it drag! The characters are hackneyed and deeply uninteresting, the moments of horror fail to horrify and there are unbearably tedious passages every place you look. You'd hardly believe that it's such a short book.

So what's going on? Who could be responsible for such a pointless piece of work? Step forward James Moffatt, the über-hack at the heart of so much of the New English Library's catalogue in the 1970s.

Clearly his foray into historical horror didn't meet with any great success because - as far as I know - this book and the later Dracula and the Virgins of the Undead (1974) are the only things he wrote under the pseudonym Etienne Aubin. Skinheads were evidently more profitable.

Great cover, though.


from the maker of...

Teeny Bopper Idol

Diary of a Female Wrestler