CONCESSION by Ann Ashton


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The worst--and most occult-y--gothic yet from the amateurish author of The Haunted Portrait, The Phantom Reflection, and Three Cries of Terror. The only quasi-distinction here is that the fluttery protagonist is a man: young, handsome WW I volunteer Will Collin, who, just before going overseas, is tricked into (unconsummated) marriage with Madam Acora, a carnival clairvoyant. And when Will comes marching home, Madam A. is dead of influenza but has left him her mansion outside of Denver; if Will lives there for two years, he'll inherit nearly a million bucks. So Will and army buddy Dirk move in. Madam A.'s ghost promptly appears to say she was really murdered. And, to please Madam A.'s mad aunts (in the asylum), Will agrees to turn the house into a home for needy psychics--including several lusty maidens who test virtuous Will's will power (he's saving himself for marriage). Which of the women are good, metaphysical witches and which are black-magic types? Why do two locals die of mysterious causes? Who is setting up virgin Will--via aphrodisiacs--""to be sacrificed as the male bride of Satan""? So go the interminable conversations, carried on in stultifying, hilariously inauthentic (supposedly 1923) dialogue: everyone is ""heavily into the spiritual side of life""; and, when Will discovers that his True Love is into black magic, he moans, ""Oh, wow! That hurts--I mean it really does."" For even the most tolerant psychic enthusiast, then: so bad it hurts--we mean it really does.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday