Hugh Zachary – Gwen, In Green (1974)

Review by Justin Tate

Avoid the pond water and don’t cut the grass! This eco-gothic horror novel delivers more plant-based thrills than an Earth Day celebration. You’ll think twice about weedy vegetation overwhelming that ramshackle house outside of town, and may even second guess having outdoor trysts with woodland nymphomaniacs.

It’s rare for a pulp novel to live up to its brilliant cover, but this one does. Actually, the story surpasses any of the wild assumptions you might have going in. It gets crazier and crazier with every page, and I’m all about it!

First published in the early 1970s, swinger vibes linger in the air as Gwen’s horny husband is at first disappointed by his new wife’s demure sexuality and uneventful days. He encourages her to “get a hobby,” like painting or “a lover.”

Gwen decides to become close with her pet Venus flytraps. Maybe a little TOO close. Suddenly there’s a noticeable change. It’s the wife who “wears out” her insatiable husband and takes on all manner of extracurricular activities. George doesn’t complain—at first. When Gwen starts having full-on conversations with her plants, however, he suspects something spooky is going on. But he doesn’t know the half of it!

Valancourt Books has been killing it with their “Paperbacks from Hell” re-prints of forgotten, hard-to-find vintage horror novels, but this re-discovery might be my favorite. It’s more Gothic than horror, which I prefer, but includes great stabby moments to satisfy gore fans. Basically the perfect blend of gruesome shocks and domestic doom.

I understand there’s a whole subgenre of “eco-gothic” and “eco-horror” that I would love to read more of. If anybody has recommendations for more novels like this, please hit us up on social media: