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A Southern Tale of Spectral Revenge: Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell

Saturday, August 13th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Cold Moon Over Babylon Michael McDowell-1980-small Cold Moon Over Babylon Michael McDowell-1980-back-small Cold Moon Over Babylon Valancourt-small

Leave it to Valancourt Books to produce the first reprint of Michael McDowell’s spooky southern gothic Cold Moon Over Babylon. It was originally published in paperback by Avon in February 1980 (above left and middle, cover artist unknown).

Stephen King called McDowell “The finest writer of paperback originals in America.” McDowell’s other novels include the Blackwater series, The Amulet (1979), and Toplin (1985). I first discovered him with the Valancourt reprint of The Elementals (1981). I was standing in front of the Valancourt booth at the 2014 World Fantasy Convention, gazing in amazement at their incredible back catalog, and that was the book that forced me to open my wallet.

Last year Valancourt brought most of McDowell’s back catalog back into print as part of their 20th Century Classics line, starting with Cold Moon Over Babylon, now available in a handsome new trade paperback with a wonderfully spooky new cover by Mike Mignola.

Inside flap copy (Avon edition)

Inside flap copy (Avon edition)

Here’s the description.

Welcome to Babylon, a typical sleepy Alabama small town, where years earlier the Larkin family suffered a terrible tragedy. Now they are about to endure another: fourteen-year-old Margaret Larkin will be robbed of her innocence and her life by a killer who is beyond the reach of the law.

But something strange is happening in Babylon: traffic lights flash an eerie blue, a ghostly hand slithers from the drain of a kitchen sink, graves erupt from the local cemetery in an implacable march of terror… And beneath the murky surface of the river, a shifting, almost human shape slowly takes form. Night after night it will pursue the murderer. And when the full moon rises over Babylon, it will seek a terrible vengeance…

Cold Moon Over Babylon (1980), the second novel by Michael McDowell (1950-1999), author of Blackwater and The Elementals and screenwriter of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a chilling Southern Gothic tale of revenge from beyond the grave that ranks among his most terrifying books. This first-ever reprint features deliciously creepy new cover art by Mike Mignola.

The other McDowell books in the 20th Century Classics line are.

The Elementals (June 17, 2014)
Cold Moon Over Babylon (Feb 24, 2015)
Katie (Mar 17, 2015)
The Brains of Rats (May 12, 2015) — by Michael Blumlein and Michael McDowell
Gilded Needles (June 30, 2015)
Toplin (Dec 11, 2015

Our previous coverage of Valancourt Books includes:

The Elementals
Bringing Neglected Classics Back Into Print: The Horror Catalog of Valancourt Books
Stories of the Strange and Sinister by Frank Baker
The Great White Space by Basil Copper
Nathan Ballingrud on Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings

See all of our recent coverage of the best new fantasy here.

2 Comments »

  1. The Avon edition has been sitting on my shelf for a very long time. I guess a BG post on the first new edition since then must mean it’s finally time to read it!

    Comment by Thomas Parker - August 13, 2016 2:21 pm

  2. If you read it, let us know! I’d love to know if it’s as good as it sounds.

    Comment by John ONeill - August 15, 2016 12:31 pm


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