Last year author Nathan Ballingrud dashed off a brief Facebook post about Michael McDowell’s 6-volume Blackwater series, originally published in paperback by Avon in 1983. Nathan said, in part:
I’m in the midst of reading Blackwater, by Michael McDowell. It is, you might say, as if The Shadow over Innsmouth was written as a generational family saga set in rural Alabama. It is strange, funny, warm, and frightening, and a true pleasure to read.
That triggered a lengthy quest for the books, which I chronicled here. I was never able to track down all six volumes, although I did manage to locate the Science Fiction omnibus collection of the first three. So I was very pleased to hear that the industrious folks at Valancourt Books have published a massive one-volume edition of the entire series. It was released in hardcover and trade paperback earlier this month; both editions feature a full wraparound cover by MS Corley.
Nathan provides the introduction to this edition. Here’s the decription from the Valancourt website.
Blackwater is the saga of a small town, Perdido, Alabama, and Elinor Dammert, the stranger who arrives there under mysterious circumstances on Easter Sunday, 1919. On the surface, Elinor is gracious, charming, anxious to belong in Perdido, and eager to marry Oscar Caskey, the eldest son of Perdido’s first family. But her beautiful exterior hides a shocking secret. Beneath the waters of the Perdido River, she turns into something terrifying, a creature whispered about in stories that have chilled the residents of Perdido for generations. Some of those who observe her rituals in the river will never be seen again …
Originally published as a series of six volumes in 1983, Blackwater is the crowning achievement of Michael McDowell, author of the Southern Gothic classics Cold Moon Over Babylon and The Elementals and screenwriter of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. This first-ever one-volume edition, with a new introduction by Shirley Jackson Award-winning author Nathan Ballingrud, marks Blackwater’s first appearance in print in three decades and will allow a new generation of readers to discover this modern horror classic.
Michael McDowell has had a fascinating career. Stephen King called him “the finest writer of paperback originals in America,” and he also has a well-earned reputation for crafting some of the most original horror-comedies of the 80s and 90s. His screen credits include Beetlejuice (1988), six episodes of Tales from the Darkside (’85-88), two episodes of the TV series Monsters (’89-90), the screenplay for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and Stephen King’s Thinner (1996). See his complete resume at IMDB.
Our previous coverage of Michael McDowell includes:
And our recent coverage of Valancourt Books includes:
Bringing Neglected Classics Back Into Print: The Horror Catalog of Valancourt Books
The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories by Robert Aickman
A Southern Tale of Spectral Revenge: Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell
Nathan Ballingrud on Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings
Stories of the Strange and Sinister by Frank Baker
The Great White Space by Basil Copper
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume One, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle
Blackwater was published by Valancourt Books on October 2, 2017. It is 800 pages, priced at $39.99 in hardcover and $27.99 in trade paperback. The cover is by MS Corley. Get more details at the Valancourt website.
See all our recent New Treasures here.