Edwina Noone (ed.) – Edwina Noone’s Gothic Sampler (1966)

Review by Justin Tate

A collection of gothic short stories “from the world’s leading ladies of terror.” The editor, Edwina Noone, goes on for some time celebrating the triumphant female takeover from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Hugh Walpole, Henry James and other male gothic icons. “Who is better equipped to write of a female in trouble than a talented lady author?” muses Noone in the introduction, declaring the included “authoresses” are among “the most gifted in the genre.”

This is all a bit cheeky, since Edwina Noone is actually the femnine pseudonym of writer Michael Avallone. Avallone self-satisfyingly includes two of his own stories in this anthology, one under the moniker “Edwina Noone” and another under his other pseudonym “Priscilla Dalton.”

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Michael Avallone – Tales of the Frightened (1963)

Review by Justin Tate

A collection of 26 eerie vignettes. They were written by Michael Avallone specifically for Boris Karloff to narrate. However, only 13 stories were chosen for Karloff’s “Tales of the Frightened” LP (between volumes 1 and 2). Karloff, along with Vincent Price and Thurl Ravenscroft, is one of the most iconic horror voices in history and his vocal talents add generous depth to what otherwise might be ho-hum flash fiction.

Listening to his narration along with the book, my mind frequently drifted away from plot and became more focused on Karloff’s vocal mastery. He increases speed when tension is high, slows down to brood over mystery, and generally makes everything creepier. The text is meant to have a by-the-fire chatty feel, but he finds numerous opportunity to increase the casual tone through vocal inflection when I might not have read it that way.

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