RoosterVision: Margaret Ronan’s HOUSE OF EVIL AND OTHER STRANGE UNSOLVED MYSTERIES (Scholastic Book Service, 1977)

An ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media.

…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.

RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!

For our third entry in our “RoosterVision” series of articles, we are spotlighting Margaret Ronan’s HOUSE OF EVIL. Published in 1977 by Scholastic Book Services, the title has never (from what we could find) seen a reprint. It is a slim book, digest-sized and running only 156 pages. And though the book hasn’t been reprinted, we suspect it had a fairly substantial print run, initially, as you can find used copies pretty easily and usually for prices under ten dollars.

Margaret Ronan was, at the time, a popular anthologist. She was quite prolific. Any quick search of her online will turn up dozens of titles. Assembled by Ronan, these books cover any number of subjects, but you can tell she must have had an affinity for the spooky stuff, a recurring topic across multiple books. She was an author of short fiction, as well. Her most well-known story, “Finger! Finger!”, having been collected in one of the once-omnipresent “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” anthologies.

HOUSE OF EVIL was something of a gateway book for budding horror readers. Its closest comparison, perhaps, is Alvin Schwartz’s SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, and HOUSE OF EVIL would surely make a nice companion piece for readers looking for a similar experience. Ronan’s tales are short, punchy, and based upon “real” events and pre-existing folktales. The only missing ingredient would be interior illustrations, of which HOUSE OF EVIL has none. But that cover art sings!

Deliciously evocative and creepy art!

Recently, an author posted to Twitter, inquiring about “Cozy Horror” and whether or not such a thing exists. Most answers gravitated to “Quiet Horror” as an already existing subgenre, and someone also posited that much of Horror was already “Cozy Horror,” since so many stories feature an ending that sees a return to societal norms. However, if one where inclined to pursue the idea and carve out a “Cozy Horror” niche, then we believe you could make a nice argument for HOUSE OF EVIL’s inclusion as a forerunner to the genre.

It’s a fun book and, unfortunately, largely forgotten. Perhaps a reprint is in order? A reprint with, say, a bevy of creepy illustrations to accompany the text? We can dream!

Until then, the collection pops up on Amazon, eBay, and Thrift Books with some regularity.

Happy hunting.

And, as always, thanks for reading!


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