Monday, October 18, 2021

Book cover: "Terror by Night"

The subject of this book has much in common with Supermonsters, though it's written from much more of an academic perspective.

  • Title: Terror by Night
  • Additional cover text: "The gruesome, unspeakable truth behind the legends of the monstrous undead"
  • Author: Bernhardt J. Hurwood (1926-1987)
  • Cover illustrator: V. Ross (per the signature)
  • Publisher: Lancer Books, New York (72-656)
  • Year: 1963
  • Pages: 127
  • Format: Paperback
  • Cover price: 50 cents
  • Marketing text from first page: "You are holding in your hands one of the most profoundly EVIL books ever assembled."
  • Dedication: "To Laura — My favorite witch, without whose sorcery this book would never have been written."
  • Some chapter titles: "The Universality of Vampire Beliefs," "Premature Burial," "Foxes, Cats, and Human Beasts," "The European Tradition of Lycanthropy," and "Vampires and Werwolves Today." (Yes, it's spelled "werwolves.")
  • First sentence: "In ancient Assyria there was a widespread belief in demons, ghosts, and evil spirits with malignant personalities who preyed upon human victims."
  • Relevant passage from the middle: "For such beliefs to have become so widespread and to grip entire nations for centuries there had to be deep roots. In order to understand what sort of climate nurtured and supported superstition we must try to place ourselves temporarily in the kind of emotional environment that once existed and that penetrated deep into the hearts of the people."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2016, Steven wrote: "I do like these studies from the 1950s and 1960s that combine research on mythology and folklore, with the then rage to psychoanalyze everything."
  • More about Bernhardt Hurwood: His short obituary in The New York Times described him as "the author of 64 books on a wide variety of subjects," including Edgar Allan Poe, the supernatural and erotica. The Free Dictionary agrees, summing it up this way: "While his literary career covered many subjects, two topics dominated his writing — sex and the supernatural." In the 1960s and 1970s, Hurwood published a number of colections of supernatural stories, mostly aimed at younger audiences. He also wrote horror novels and the novelization of the 1977 William Shatner film Kingdom of the Spiders. 
  • Final note: The blog Uncle Doug’s Bunker of Vintage Horror Paperbacks featured a long, nostalgic post about Hurwood in 2012. The website warns me against quoting from it without authorization, so I'll just summarize that the writer believes Hurwood should be remembered more widely for his spooky works, especially the collections aimed at kids through the Scholastic Book Club back in the day. Read the whole post here.

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