14 January 2007

R. R. Ryan. Echo of a Curse. 1939

R. R. Ryan. Echo of a Curse. ECHO OF A CURSE. Herbert Jenkins,London, 1939.

Current Selling Prices
$1900+ /£1000+ Want level 25-50 Highish

Contes Cruels. Horror, dark and demented. Even more cruel than Charles Birkin. Something of a sleeper, Ryan is little known outside of that sub sect of fantasy collectors who want horror, Contes Cruels and the darkness. There are collectors who boast they have all 7 Jenkins books, but they have usually been at it since the Summer of Love. A critic writes 'without a doubt one of the most deeply disturbing and perverse works to ever appear in the genre.' Reprinted 2002 by Midnight House in 450 copies. Some confusion as to who R.R. Ryan was, the money used to be on a cruel sapphist, one Rachel Ryan. However a runner who comes in the shop suggested it was in fact a a man and he wrote other books for Jenkins under a second name. George Locke who records his nice jacketed copy (colour illustrated with 3/6 on spine) takes a fairly dim view of the book in his indispensable 'Spectrum of Fantasy':
"Weird horror story, an uneasy hybrid of the vampire and the werewolf themes. My notes on the story when I read it include the following remark: badly written, poorly constructed, reads as though dictated onto tape and not revised...'

VALUE? Fantasy and horror titles published by Jenkins are bastards to find, whereas their main fare of bright & breezy books (Wodehouse, D.E. Stevenson etc.,) turn up all the time in jolly jackets. I was called to a house which was the estate of a 1930s CEO at Jenkins and expected to find 'A Gent from Bear Creek" and a clutch of jacketed Ryans at very least. Clue, they are mostly in orange cloth, even the Robert E. Howard. The best book there was 1935 book called 'Truncheons: Their Romance and Reality' + a bunch of A.S. Neill books. A horror website refers to RR Ryan's books fetching 'astronomical prices' when they do show up, and those holding don't tend to sell until they are firmly in the crypt. Possibly worth the price of a decent second hand car. Reprint may have put a ceiling on the price. Our pic shows the cover of the Darkside Press (Midnight House) 2002 reprint, for which many thanks.

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