A few days ago, my good friend Nick of the blog A Pile of Leaves mentioned picking up a book of ghost stories because of the cover. Before I even saw what the book was I already kind of suspected what it *might* be. Knowing enough of Nick's taste and his description of the title in question I thought, rightly, that this may well be a William Kimber book with an Ionicus cover. Books which I have something of a long standing fondness for.
Now I've been collecting ghost stories for about seven years now - it's an interesting hobby because, unlike crime fiction, it's frequently about picking collections which have lots of doubles (at the very least) of stories you already own because of the odd one or two you don't... and all because that little, neglected gem may end up being something truly special. And during my detective work in trying to find these things I soon realised I had a particular niche in the genre all to myself - Kimber.
Most fans of supernatural fiction really don't rate William Kimber collections or editions. They think them a bit bloodless and lifeless. The Ionicus covers particularly figure highly in this disdain, possibly because for a generation of book collectors he's an artist who really seems deeply linked with PG Wodehouse reissues. They find him a bit limp and polite and - almost literally - a little bloodless, which is true if you're after lurid covers. But if, like me, you don't mind a bit of the softly sinister to go with the ridiculously overblown covers then they're an absolute treat. And besides, the fact that Kimber published so many books by R Chetwynd Hayes should be a giveaway - he's also often thought of as a little bloodless and "safe" compared to someone like, say, Ramsey Campbell or Robert Aickman (this is a little unfair: "The Day That Father Brought Something Home" is one of the greatest bits of supernatural fiction ever in my opinion). I will admit a lot of Kimber books are a bit... lacking in places, but I have such a fondness for them because of the design that I snap them up whenever I see them.
This is my collection of Ionicus Kimber covers - I will do a few more Ionicus entries during the week, particularly explaining why I love him and his art so much. In the mean time - enjoy!
Fairly obviously this last book is not particularly supernaturally themed, but it still does have a rather splendid Ionicus cover. So in it goes! More of these later this week hopefully....