Why, you might ask, am I sending birthday wishes to a dead guy? Well, there are a number of reasons, the most important of which is Ken Greenhall was a great, criminally underrated horror author who spent his career in utter obscurity, eventually giving up on it altogether and disappearing into seeming oblivion until his death in 2014. But fortunately for us horror nerds, Valancourt Books recently rediscovered and published some of his amazing horror novels and I want to share them with you here today. If you’ve yet to experience Greenhall’s peculiar brand of magic, his remarkable ability to get into a character’s head and virtually become them, you should fix that immediately. Here are three titles you should get your hands on ASAP.
“If you were to go into your bedroom tonight – perhaps by candlelight – and sit quietly before the large mirror, you might see what I have seen. Sit patiently, looking neither at yourself nor at the glass. You might notice that the image is not yours, but that of an exceptional person who lived at some other time …”
The image in the mirror of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Cuttner is that of the fey and long-dead Frances, who introduces Elizabeth to her chilling world of the supernatural. Through Frances, Elizabeth learns what it is to wield power – power of a kind that is malevolent and seemingly invincible. Power that begins with the killing of her parents …
First published in 1976, Ken Greenhall’s debut novel Elizabeth is a lost classic of modern horror fiction that deserves rediscovery. This edition includes a new introduction by Jonathan Janz.
‘What are the possibilities of my strength? That is a thought I have never had before. What if some morning as the old woman stood at the head of the staircase she were suddenly to feel a weight thrusting against the back of her legs? What if she were to lunge forward, grasping at the air, striking her thin skull against the edge of a stair? What would become of me if she were found unmoving at the bottom of the stairway?’
Such are the thoughts of Baxter, a sociopathic bull terrier on the hunt for the perfect master, as he contemplates the demise of his first victim. The basis for the acclaimed 1989 film Baxter, Ken Greenhall’s utterly chilling and long-unobtainable Hell Hound (1977) has earned a reputation as a lost classic of horror fiction. This first-ever reissue includes a new introduction by Grady Hendrix.
When photographer Jonathan Brewster’s four-year-old daughter Joanne tells him about her new invisible friends, he doesn’t think too much about it. But then he sees them for himself: weird and uncanny images of the dead appearing in his photographs. The apparitions seem to have some connection to Childgrave, a remote village in upstate New York with a deadly secret dating back three centuries. Jonathan and Joanne feel themselves oddly drawn to Childgrave, but will they survive the horrors that await them there?
The third novel by Ken Greenhall (1928-2014), whose works are receiving renewed attention as neglected classics of modern horror, Childgrave (1982) is a slow-burn chiller that ranks among Greenhall’s best.
About Ken Greenhall:
Ken Greenhall was born in Detroit in 1928, the son of immigrants from England. He graduated from high school at age 15, worked at a record store for a time, and was drafted into the military, serving in Germany. He earned his degree from Wayne State University and moved to New York, where he worked as an editor of reference books, first on the staff of the Encyclopedia Americana and later for the New Columbia Encyclopedia. Greenhall had a longtime interest in the supernatural and took leave from his job to write his first novel, Elizabeth (1976), a tale of witchcraft published under his mother’s maiden name, Jessica Hamilton. Several more novels followed, including Hell Hound (1977), which was published abroad as Baxter and adapted for a critically acclaimed 1989 French film under that title. Greenhall died in 2014.