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Occult Tales #1

Dark Satanic

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Barbara is determined to protect her husband, Jamie Melford, from the power forces that will stop at nothing to prevent him from publishing a book that reveals the secrets of the occult

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1972

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About the author

Marion Zimmer Bradley

650 books4,305 followers
Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series, often with a feminist outlook.

Bradley's first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, and Leigh Brackett, especially when they wrote about "the glint of strange suns on worlds that never were and never would be." Her first novel and much of her subsequent work show their influence strongly.

Early in her career, writing as Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, and Lee Chapman, Marion Zimmer Bradley produced several works outside the speculative fiction genre, including some gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels. For example, I Am a Lesbian was published in 1962. Though relatively tame by today's standards, they were considered pornographic when published, and for a long time she refused to disclose the titles she wrote under these pseudonyms.

Her 1958 story The Planet Savers introduced the planet of Darkover, which became the setting of a popular series by Bradley and other authors. The Darkover milieu may be considered as either fantasy with science fiction overtones or as science fiction with fantasy overtones, as Darkover is a lost earth colony where psi powers developed to an unusual degree. Bradley wrote many Darkover novels by herself, but in her later years collaborated with other authors for publication; her literary collaborators have continued the series since her death.

Bradley took an active role in science-fiction and fantasy fandom, promoting interaction with professional authors and publishers and making several important contributions to the subculture.

For many years, Bradley actively encouraged Darkover fan fiction and reprinted some of it in commercial Darkover anthologies, continuing to encourage submissions from unpublished authors, but this ended after a dispute with a fan over an unpublished Darkover novel of Bradley's that had similarities to some of the fan's stories. As a result, the novel remained unpublished, and Bradley demanded the cessation of all Darkover fan fiction.

Bradley was also the editor of the long-running Sword and Sorceress anthology series, which encouraged submissions of fantasy stories featuring original and non-traditional heroines from young and upcoming authors. Although she particularly encouraged young female authors, she was not averse to including male authors in her anthologies. Mercedes Lackey was just one of many authors who first appeared in the anthologies. She also maintained a large family of writers at her home in Berkeley. Ms Bradley was editing the final Sword and Sorceress manuscript up until the week of her death in September of 1999.

Probably her most famous single novel is The Mists of Avalon. A retelling of the Camelot legend from the point of view of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar, it grew into a series of books; like the Darkover series, the later novels are written with or by other authors and have continued to appear after Bradley's death.

Her reputation has been posthumously marred by multiple accusations of child sexual abuse by her daughter Moira Greyland, and for allegedly assisting her second husband, convicted child abuser Walter Breen, in sexually abusing multiple unrelated children.

(from Wikipedia)

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5 stars
55 (16%)
4 stars
98 (28%)
3 stars
123 (36%)
2 stars
46 (13%)
1 star
16 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Hanna-Anneli Belt.
225 reviews19 followers
September 11, 2020
Occult Horror Suspense Story

An occult and psychological horror and suspense story of a pair's struggle against evil people and forces and power and knowledge misused. This book introduces Colin Maclaren and Claire Moffat, which is interesting. The religious nuances were a bit irritating, and disappointingly the magic used was only a little described and even that was quite vague. All in all, quite a good read although pretty short.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
June 9, 2010
The first in Marion Zimmer Bradley's occult-thriller series, this book reminded me quite a lot of 'Rosemary's Baby'.
Jamie Melford is a book publisher who's about to come out with a new expose on the occult that's expected to be a best-seller. But the author of the book is getting threats - and then turns up dead - of a heart attack? Now Jaime is receiving threats as well. He refuses to be cowed by a bunch of kooks - but the warnings are getting more severe.

Meanwhile, Jaime's wife, Barbara, is in a rough spot, emotionally. Her mother-in-law has just brought Jaime's ex-girlfriend into the house on what seems to be becoming an extended visit. Barbara doesn't like her, and isn't comfortable with the situation, but doesn't want to seem petty or jealous by complaining. But both mother-in-law and girlfriend are becoming more and more hostile, and Barbara is beginning to feel like she's going insane.

Can anyone save Jaime and Barbara from the evil web that's being spun around them?
Profile Image for Cláudia Santos.
73 reviews9 followers
October 28, 2017
Gostei francamente do livro. Foram 219 páginas que li numa manhã sem dar por isso. A escrita é limpa, cuidada. Não tem aspirações poéticas nem literárias, mas é muito bem organizada e clara. Os diálogos são bem construídos e com uma linguagem corrente que nos faz entrar na cena.

Os personagens não são construídos com minúcia, nem complexidade, servem apenas o propósito de darem forma à história.

A história, bem, a história é sobre um editor que se vê envolvido com um grupo satânico. Não chega a gerar terror, mas a narração está bem estruturada de forma a criar suspense e curiosidade.

A autora não perde tempo, a escrita é corrida e não nos deixa descansar, de uma descoberta passamos logo para a outra e o fio vai-se desenrolando rapidamente.

Um bom livro, sem pretensões literária, mas como uma excelente capacidade de entreter e prender.
Profile Image for Paulo Silva.
62 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2018
Faz muitos anos que andava para ler este livro. Surgiu agora a oportunidade. Não desiludiu mas esperava mais. A história torna-se muito previsível e sem grande desenrolar da mesma e das personagens em si. Gostei mas nada de especial, para aquilo que se espera de uma escritora com a fama de Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Profile Image for Dru.
546 reviews
April 17, 2019
Meh. This book sure shows its age. By that, I mean the mousy little obey-her-husband character of a wife is right out of the early 1970s. Blech. In both that, and in the subject, it reads a lot like Rosemary's Baby, but not nearly as creepy as RB. Although it continues in a series, I have no interest in going further with this book.
Profile Image for Mary Chrapliwy.
174 reviews23 followers
February 13, 2021
I gave up on this book when the word "darling" was being thrown around too much, and I didn't care about the characters enough to read beyond the first 50 pages. So, rather than waste my time on a book I was not enjoying, I abandoned this one
Profile Image for Susanna Neri.
607 reviews16 followers
February 17, 2021
Trama prevedibile e svolgimento un pò ingenuo, complessivamente si lascia leggere e la coppia di "investigatori dell'occulto" sembra promettere sviluppi interessanti
Profile Image for Maria Trying to write my book  Park.
633 reviews22 followers
May 2, 2020
Dark Satanic is the start of the 5 "Light" books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It's awfully funny to realize it was published in 1972 yet the core concepts haven't changed much. Horror slowly sneaks into the lives of a book publisher and his family , quickly escalating into a full-fledged nightmare. MZB's writing has gained much sophistication since this fun romp through horror. A good, quick read. Well worth the time.
Profile Image for Clarice.
36 reviews5 followers
May 12, 2015
Originally published in 1972 Dark Satanic is the first book in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Occult Tales series and the prequel to The Inheritor. Throughout her life Bradley was an incredibly prolific writer and is, of course, better known for both the Darkover and Avalon series. Given the sheer quantity of Bradley's written output, it should come as no surprise that some of her books lack in the quality department.

Anyone familiar with her wider work will be aware, Bradley published a great number of books and short stories that can best be described as 'fragments' or literary experiments, in which she was trialling new plot lines, developing characters and experimenting with new themes. Rather than retaining these fragments in a drawer, Bradley was happy to see them published - in later years most often inside one of her short story collections and anthologies. Yet, at times her ventures into new territory were published as stand-alone books or republished and marketed as sequels and / or prequels to other novels. Dark Satanic belongs into the latter category.

The story unfolds in Manhatten where James Melford, a publisher, and his wife Barbara share an apartment with James's ageing mother (Mother Melford) and her friend, Dana, who temporarily stays with the Melfords while house hunting.

Shortly before his untimely death, one of James's authors, Jock Cannon, visits James in his office at Blackcock Publishing in order to to deter James from publishing Jock's recently completed account of black magic and the dark arts, as practised by New York City covens. As a result of researching the dark arts, Jock is now subjected to intimidation and harassment by as yet unidentified forces, wishing to prevent the information in his book from becoming public.

When Jock suddenly dies of a heart attack, James, still determined to publish his book, decides to investigate further. He remains unconvinced by Jock's warnings until he himself starts receiving threatening calls and unexpected late-night deliveries.

Meanwhile, Barbara, who has a rather strained relationship with her mother-in-law and is deeply unhappy about Dana's presence in the apartment, experiences strange goings-on. At first, she doubts her own sanity, but as the story unfolds, she becomes increasingly suspicious of Mother Melford, her confidante and their behaviour towards her.

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Profile Image for Kate.
458 reviews
May 12, 2008
This reminded me a lot of the old 70's horror flicks that were always on the 3.30 Movie when I got home from school: young wife starts experiencing creepy stuff and everyone thinks she's going nuts. For someone who was so active in the feminist movement, MZB can certain write some overbearing men and doormat women. I had to keep reminding myself this book was originally written in 1972, but feels pretty dated even for then. Billed as the prequel to The Inheritor, the only direct connections are Colin and Claire, and the general theme of using black magic for nefarious purposes. As in the Inheritor, the action speeds way up in the last few pages and the ending resolves very little.
Profile Image for Pedro.
56 reviews
January 9, 2011
nothing out of the ordinary, expected more, much more, very simple and quite shallow. Too predictable, the story does not have a climax, very poor ending, and it would be so obvious the outcome of the book after the first chapters
Profile Image for Terpsicore.
79 reviews10 followers
August 15, 2012
not the best marion zmmler bradley. I thought the problem was the crappy translation but judging from other comments that was not the issue.
It was just so bland, no climax...
still, it was a very fast read and was perfect for shutting down my brain for a while
Profile Image for Barrymore Tebbs.
Author 12 books17 followers
October 31, 2012
I sought this out on eBay because I just had to read it. It's remarkably bad. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be an occult flavored Gothic romance a la Barbara Michaels, but this book has nothing going for it. First draft quality writing. Only for MZB purists.
Profile Image for Melanti.
1,256 reviews117 followers
April 1, 2010
This is more like Witch Hill than The Inheritor in the way it shows occultism/magic.
Profile Image for Sandra Azevedo.
69 reviews4 followers
November 3, 2010
A autora demonstra não apenas grande imaginação como também investigação para a elaboração do livro!! Muito bom.
Profile Image for Colubrina Laticauda.
141 reviews4 followers
January 17, 2016
Carino, ma niente di che. Atmosfere alla Rosmary's baby senza grandi pretese. Scorre bene e si fa leggere senza troppa passione ne impegno. Perfetto per rilassarsi.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

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