Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Raymond Giles – Night Of The Griffin

Posted by demonik on May 17, 2009

Raymond Giles – Night Of The Griffin (NEL 1971)

Richard Clifton-Day

Richard Clifton-Dey

Review by Nightreader

This is a pretty straightforward gothic romance with all the traditional elements you’d expect. Even for a reader who doesn’t know this genre it follows a fairly predictable pattern.

Beth St. Dennis is the heroine. She is encouraged by her far more glamorous flatmate Nina to accompany her to a Halloween party at her wealthy friend’s mansion, Griffon House, a suitably grand but spooky location. Griffon House is the family home of the Griffon family, in residence are the strikingly beautiful but wicked Maretta and her moody but attractive brother Robert.

Maretta is a witch, a white one she says, and wants Beth to view a Sabbat that is being held later in the evening. Maretta is interested in Beth because she has shown a talent for the Tarot and may be a gifted psychic. At the Sabbat Beth is charmed by Robert who persuades her to leave the Sabbat and spend time with him. Robert is a troubled man, he has scars on his wrists from a suicide attempt and is prone to deep and dangerous depressions.

Naturally Beth falls in love with Robert and he asks her to marry him. That is when things start to go wrong. Robert and Beth marry and this seems to be the catalyst for things to change. Beth begins to sense a great evil in the house, the stirring of the griffin perhaps, then Robert’s depression returns and he wants Beth to leave but wont say why. It eventually emerges that Maretta is the leader of a coven called the Children of the Griffin, whose members worship the Griffin as a manifestation of Satan himself. A sceptical Robert once pledged himself to the cult which demands that a member should never marry one outside the cult. Maretta now wants Beth to be initiated into the cult…

Sadly there isn’t a big satisfying Wheatley-esque finale but a kind of soppy cop-out, as Robert attempts to sacrifice himself to save Beth. Like I said this is all fairly predictable stuff, but apart from the weak ending, there are some good moments in the book. I liked the Children of the Griffin idea, the classic coven of hedonists, all prospering from their nefarious doings. Maretta is a good baddie, cool and sophisticated and scheming.

But in the end it’s not as good as ‘Night of the Warlock’…

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