Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Louise Cooper – Blood Summer

Posted by demonik on May 13, 2009

Louise Cooper – Blood Summer (Nel, 1976)

Louise Cooper - Blood Summer

Louise Cooper - Blood Summer

Review by Nightreader of Vault Of Evil

(Spoilers within…)

Marion and Roland, two students on a camping holiday in Cornwall, meet the mysterious Keith Sharwood while looking for a spot to set up camp. Sharwood is a strange man, looking like “a half-finished painting by an artist with an obsession about death”. Marion soon falls under his spell and when the couple are invited to Sharwood’s house party her attraction to him intensifies. Sharwood shows Marion a unique gold statue, in the image of a hermaphrodite with the head of a bird of prey and two giant serpents entwined around it – it is a four thousand year old statue from the ancient city of Ninevah.

It isn’t long before Sharwood beds Marion and poor unsuspecting Roland gets the heave-ho. Soon after her decision to be with Sharwood she discovers his secret – that he is a vampire who has just killed Roland, she finds Sharwood still covered in his blood.

Sharwood has a lot of explaining to do, and Marion is surprisingly easy to convince. He admits to being a vampire, except he doesn’t sleep in a coffin during the daylight hours and is not repelled by the crucifix. The light of the sun merely weakens and tires him and he can be killed by any conventional method. Sharwood says: “I’m a human being who can only survive by drinking blood. Human or animal, it doesn’t matter… Sometimes I am completely taken over by the compelling force within me; I know I must eat, and I kill. I can’t control it until my hunger is completely satiated”.

Marion resolves to help Sharwood cure his ‘vampirism’, for actually it’s a four thousand year old curse put on his ancestor in Ninevah and passed down through reincarnation.

There are strong gothic romance elements in this story – the plucky, determined damsel who falls in love with the charismatic, yet cursed, hero. The atmospheric Cornish setting, lots of impending menace, and the triumph of love over all.

For me the enjoyment factor was quite low, I’m not a huge fan of this kind of story (although I can occasionally appreciate a Dark Shadows/Barnabas Collins story). The cover held so much promise, and to be fair this isn’t bad, just not my cup of coffee. I see also that Keith Sharwood turns up in Cooper’s ‘In Memory Of Sarah Bailey’ which appears to be a direct sequel. It’s on the shelf waiting, might be a while before I get to that one though…

Blood Summer thread on Vault Mk. 1

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