Night of the Vampire
Raymond Giles | Avon Books | 1969 | 176 pages
“Come back! Come back to Sanscoeur! Come back, come back, come back!”
An insidious telepathic call compels a group of childhood friends to return to the their hometown after many years of absence. Before drifting off on their separate paths, the children impetuously formed a coven, performing a satanic ritual committing themselves to the dark arts—with fatal repercussions for breaking up the group. Duffy Johnson, now a psychiatrist treating his wife Roxanne for her self-diagnosed case of lycanthropy, fears that their long-ago game of the occult has unleashed a terrible present danger.
As the gathered friends begin dying violent deaths, suspicious townspeople begin to blame Duffy’s wife, believing her lycanthropy to be genuine. Although not part of the original coven, Roxanne also spent her childhood in Sanscouerville, only fleeing after a violent murder under the full moon indicated the return of her reputed family curse. Much of the story tension derives from the question of whether or not she is an actual werewolf, while more fundamental questions (“How did the original coven morph into a group of shape-shifting vampires?”) go without answer.
Surprisingly slow and dry for a book containing occult rituals, vampire covens, and werewolf attacks, the generically titled Night of the Vampire contains somewhere within its text a more exciting, pulpier story (Wolf-Girl Versus the Vampire Cult, perhaps) struggling to claw its way out.