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Old 12-31-2021, 03:55 PM   #1
ZodWallop
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Dell's Abyss horror line... any thoughts?

So at the tail end of the paperback horror boom, Dell launched an imprint that was intended to 'elevate' horror fiction. The Abyss line would avoid Gothic sensibilities and horror tropes. And no dancing skeletons on their covers (though the Abyss covers are almost universally ugly, in my opinion).

Here are two articles on the Abyss line:
Dell Abyss
Dell/Abyss Books: The Paperback Covers

I didn't start this thread to flog books from a dead line. But many (though not all) of these books are available as ebooks. Has anyone read any of them? Which titles would you recommend? I've heard good things about Kathe Koja, Brian Hodge and Poppy Z. Brite.

I've only read Whipping Boy by John Byrne. I thought it was a creative idea, but the book was only so-so. I've also read a couple of R. Patrick Gates non-Abyss books and thought they were okay.

Here's a list of all 48 books published by the Abyss line.

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Old 12-31-2021, 04:14 PM   #2
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Yes, I have a number of them in ebook format.

I remember when they came out in paperback, and I bought quite a few of them.

They were the total and complete opposite of the Zebra. Dell's Abyss line were psychologically driven and almost always masterfully written.

A great series.
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Old 12-31-2021, 07:15 PM   #3
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Which are your favorites?
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Old 01-01-2022, 08:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZodWallop View Post
Which are your favorites?
  1. Toplin - Michael McDowell
  2. Death's Door - John Wooley & Ron Wolfe
  3. Kathe Koja - Skin
  4. Brian Hodge - Nightlife
  5. Dennis Etchison - Shadow Man

I remember having read these back when they first came out, but it's hard to remember much about them. At the time, I remember reading some Kathe Koja, but now feel she's just a lot of hot air. (Too, I think I read all of her books published by Dell Abyss.)

John Wooley and Ron Wolfe's book: I interviewed him for (I think?) the Arkansas Gazette (or the Arkansas Democrat Gazette or the official newspaper at UALR. Or the independent newspaper at UALR). I think this was their first book together. I still have my autographed copy (by one of them).

Michael McDowell was a great writer of Southern Gothic.

Brian Hodge - I may be confusing the title above with another one of his books - a book of short stories that I loved. What he writes now doesn't much interest me.

Mark Morris
is not on my list, but I had his Dell Abyss book for years and never read it.

Mark Morris - NOT Dell Abyss: I have a digital copy of The Winter Tree, his first novel.

I also have Toady, which was published in a [shorter ?] from called The Horror Club. (In the intro he mentions the cost of stamps to mail out the "Three thousand six hundred pages of white A4 typing paper.") --- I look forward to reading both versions, when I can locate a copy of The Horror Club.

PM me.
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Old 01-02-2022, 01:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drib View Post
  1. Toplin - Michael McDowell
  2. Death's Door - John Wooley & Ron Wolfe
  3. Kathe Koja - Skin
  4. Brian Hodge - Nightlife
  5. Dennis Etchison - Shadow Man
Thanks Dr.

Quote:
I remember having read these back when they first came out, but it's hard to remember much about them. At the time, I remember reading some Kathe Koja, but now feel she's just a lot of hot air. (Too, I think I read all of her books published by Dell Abyss.)
I have Cipher in paperback and the synopsis sounds interesting. But the reviews make me think it probably isn't for me. Hateful characters. Pretentious writing... I don't know. Maybe I'll still try it. I just don't see myself rushing to do so.

Quote:
John Wooley and Ron Wolfe's book: I interviewed him for (I think?) the Arkansas Gazette (or the Arkansas Democrat Gazette or the official newspaper at UALR. Or the independent newspaper at UALR). I think this was their first book together. I still have my autographed copy (by one of them).
Their book, Death's Door, doesn't appear to be available as an ebook. But they do have another collaboration: Old Fears. I'll put it on my list. It does sound good.

Quote:
Michael McDowell was a great writer of Southern Gothic.
McDowell is an author I've heard praised for YEARS. I really need to give him a go.

Quote:
Brian Hodge - I may be confusing the title above with another one of his books - a book of short stories that I loved. What he writes now doesn't much interest me.
Brian Hodge is an author I was looking into before this whole Abyss bug bit me. He's probably the one I'll try first. I'm looking at Dark Advent, Nightlife or Deathgrip.

Quote:
Mark Morris is not on my list, but I had his Dell Abyss book for years and never read it.

Mark Morris - NOT Dell Abyss: I have a digital copy of The Winter Tree, his first novel.

I also have Toady, which was published in a [shorter ?] from called The Horror Club. (In the intro he mentions the cost of stamps to mail out the "Three thousand six hundred pages of white A4 typing paper.") --- I look forward to reading both versions, when I can locate a copy of The Horror Club.
I didn't realize Mark Morris had a book published by Abyss. I've read his novel Deluge a while back. I wrote a review of it here.
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Old 01-02-2022, 10:04 AM   #6
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^

I made a mistake with Mark Morris on my post above.

However, his Dell Abyss title was Stitch, which is currently available from Kobo.UK for £1.99, with one of those horrible vanilla covers.
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Old 01-02-2022, 10:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
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^

I made a mistake with Mark Morris on my post above.

However, his Dell Abyss title was Stitch, which is currently available from Kobo.UK for £1.99, with one of those horrible vanilla covers.
Not currently available in the US, but I did find a couple of Mark Morris sales. Check deals and resources.
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Old 01-03-2022, 08:21 AM   #8
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Not currently available in the US, but I did find a couple of Mark Morris sales. Check deals and resources.
I did!

I have one, but the Horror Hospital title I don't have. I'm going to pick that one up. (See my comments on the cover.)

THANK YOU!
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Old 01-05-2022, 01:32 PM   #9
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They had such fun covers. Zebra and Dorchester also

I enjoyed Paperbacks from Hell very much talking about the history of these horror books and their covers

From the one link, I have Anthony Shriek I believe, but have not read
I read Dusk and it was disgusting, did not enjoy
Drawing Blood by Poppy Z Brite I *think* I read once upon a time, but don't remember
Heart Beast was good and literary writing - I have the same by the author displayed, Dark Dance, sometime. Both in paperback, purchased off a friend
I might have Prototype and Prodigal
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Old 01-05-2022, 05:44 PM   #10
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And they have to be read on a Dell laptop.
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Old 01-05-2022, 08:10 PM   #11
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And they have to be read on a Dell laptop.

Yes, but only if it has a case.
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Old 01-05-2022, 10:44 PM   #12
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And they have to be read on a Dell laptop.
I admit, I thought this thread was somehow about Dell computers, and finally clicked on it.
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Old 01-06-2022, 12:11 PM   #13
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I admit, I thought this thread was somehow about Dell computers, and finally clicked on it.
What would a computer based horror line be? They only run Linux!

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Old 01-06-2022, 12:23 PM   #14
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They had such fun covers. Zebra and Dorchester also
I thought the Abyss covers were ugly. I understand wanting to break away from the cheesy (but fun!) skeletons and the like.

Maybe they should have hired Dave McKean to head their cover design. His art is similar to the Abyss covers, except it is good.

I think part of the problem with the Abyss covers is that (in my limited experience) the cover had nothing to do with the book. Here's the cover for Whipping Boy by John Byrne. A decent book, but I have no idea what this cover represents from the story:


Here is a Dave McKean cover for The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman.


The absract style is similar. But the McKean cover also relates to the book in an interesting way.
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Old 01-08-2022, 10:58 PM   #15
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Yeah those both are pretty horrid!
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