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Dance with the Devil Mass Market Paperback – 1972
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Mass Market Paperback
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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[originally posted 17Sep2001]
I always figured gothic romance novels were written by terminally horny college students with a passing interest in the occult and a strong desire to make money by any means necessary. Dean Koontz gave evidence of same in the early seventies by writing a few gothics (three, if memory serves) under the name Deanna Dwyer. Of the various forms of Koontziana out there, the Dwyers are the most collectible—and that's saying something.
The books themselves are about what you'd expect—boy A meets girl, boy B meets girl, boy A gets jealous and accuses boy B of being the high priest of a Satanic animal-sacrificing cult who call up the devil in the woods... you know the drill. If you've read two Barbara Cartland books, you know the routine, including the supposed twist ending common to just about every romance novel I've ever read. But man, this stuff is funny. (As an amusing sidelight, it becomes obvious-- when you're looking-- that Koontz has a romance background. Compare and contrast the romantic relationships in Koontz' superstar-era novels with those in King...) ** ½
Koontz's publisher for his gothic novels was Lancer Books. Lancer had, through the 60's and early 70's, published authors such as Robert E. Howard (the Conan Series) and Michael Moorcock as well as Willo Davis Roberts (Gothics) and Elsie Lee who wrote romantic suspense. However, in 1973 Lancer Books, insolvent, sought the protection of the bankruptcy court and closed its door. This meant that the copyright to certain books and illustrations (particularly those by Frank Frazetta) was tied up for a number of years and there are definite hints of skullduggery from authors involved with this.
However, many of these books were shortly afterwards published by Magnum books, an imprint of Prestige Books. It's easy to tell from looking at the Magnum covers that the Lancer name and insignia has simply been covered up or printed over by the Magnum name in a darker print. I'm uploading a copy of the cover from Dance with the Devil that shows this at the top "A Magnum Gothic Orginal" and to the left side. There is some suggest that the Magnum Books were bootleg editions-- at the time they appeared at discount stores 3 for a dollar. The main thing, though, is that if the book has Magnum's name on it then it is not a first edition.
The first edition of this book would have the Lancer insignia (a chess knight) and name on the cover and title page. The Magnum (or Prestige) books are a curious side light on the Koontz bibliography.