Back in the 1980’s horror was a big thing, not only did we have the boom of horror related movies released on the new video formats (VHS and BETA) but writers such as Stephen King and Dean R Koontz popularized the genre in its written form.
But there is another thing that as a fan from the time I remember, a series of books written specifically for teens called the “Dark Forces” series. Now if you were to do a search on the ever useful Google using the search term “dark forces” you will be presented with a plethora of pages for the Star Wars series of games indicating that perhaps many people have forgotten about this series.
The series consisted of fifteen books written by mostly lesser known names (though at least one, Bruce Coville, is a name people may know) and aiming themselves securely at the “pulp” end of the market.
What can I say though? I am a big fan of “pulp” novels, finding them far more entertaining than the more “respectable” forms of literature and often just as well written.
The fifteen Dark Forces books are as follows…
01 – The Game – Les Logan
02 – Magic Show – Laurie Bridges
03 – The Doll – Rex Sparger
04 – Devil Wind – Laurie Bridges
05 – The Bargain – Rex Sparger
06 – Swamp Witch – Laurie Bridges
07 – Unnatural Talent – Les Logan
08 – The Companion – Scott Siegel
09 – Eyes of the Tarot – Bruce Coville
10 – Beat the Devil – Scott Siegel
11 – Waiting Spirits – Bruce Coville
12 – The Ashton Horror – Laurie Bridges
13 – The Curse – Larry Weinberg
14 – Blood Sport – R. C. Scott
15 – The Charming – Jane Polcovar
Out of these fifteen books I read about eight or nine of them, the ones that still comfortably sit in my memory being Unnatural Talent and The Companion. Broadly the stories revolved around common themes of the day, many of which were used to great effect by Stephen King, such as high school life and the teen angst that comes with it. There was little to differentiate these books from many others apart from their lurid descriptions and a blatant unwholesomeness that may have been inappropriate for books aimed at teens.
Don’t get me wrong here, these are written for kids and so no one should expect life changing subversiveness, but it was very different for a publisher to present tales of possession and murder aimed directly at a teen (or what is known now as the “tween”) audience.
Perhaps it could even be said that series such as “Dark Forces” paved the way for many of the popular tsunami’s that have taken the world by storm of late. Perhaps without Dark Forces (and other similar series such as “Twilight: Where Darkness Begins” and “Private School” written by Charles L. Grant) we would not have Harry Potter or Twilight?
Reminiscing about this series makes me want to revisit it, perhaps read those books of the series I never could find at the time.
If I do I’ll post up my thoughts concerning them… Okay, so I’m off now to do a search over on Amazon… Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a few little gems from the past.