Book Reviews

{Review} Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell

by Michael McDowell
Published by Valancourt Books on 2/24/2015
Genres: Crime/Serial Killer, Dark Fiction, Extreme Horror, Fiction, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon

Welcome to Babylon, a typical sleepy southern town, where years earlier the Larkin family suffered a terrible tragedy. Now they are about to endure another: fourteen-year-old Margaret Larkin will be robbed of her innocence and her life by a killer who is beyond the reach of the law.

But something strange is happening in Babylon: traffic lights flash an eerie blue, a ghostly hand slithers from the drain of a kitchen sink, graves erupt from the local cemetery in an implacable march of terror . . . And beneath the murky surface of the river, a shifting, almost human shape slowly takes form. Night after night it will pursue the murderer. And when the full moon rises over Babylon, it will seek a terrible vengeance . . .

Cold Moon Over Babylon (1980), the second novel by Michael McDowell (1950-1999), author of Blackwater and The Elementals and screenwriter of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a chilling Southern Gothic tale of revenge from beyond the grave that ranks among his most terrifying books. This first-ever reprint features deliciously creepy new cover art by Mike Mignola.

Last year, I was finally able to get my hands on some Michael McDowell books and I loved them. A good friend of mine,( Tressa, that would be you!), had been recommending them for years, but they were all out of print and difficult to find. I was very excited when I discovered that Valancourt Books was bringing some of these novels back. And, BONUS! My excitement was well founded because this book, (and the others) were a blast!

Evil in a small town is one of my favorite themes, and if it’s a town in the south, all the better. This author has the speech patterns down, since he’s from Alabama, and it’s reflected in the dialogue throughout this tale.

The story begins with the mysterious death of young Margaret Larkin and the effect that it has on her family. The Larkin family has it tough to start with and this might be the final straw. From there,the mystery spreads throughout the town, on past the possible murder suspects, and into the Styx River. (Just a short way downstream the Styx joins with the Perdido, which was the crux of The Blackwater Series by this author.)

The beginning sets the scene and from that point, the story continues to get dark. Very dark . And horrific. Truly horrific. The victims of violent crime rarely rest in peace and they get NO rest in this amazing, dark fiction novel. The last 25% of this book was un-put-downable. It races to the final and dark conclusion and the reader has no choice but to hang on tight!

Michael McDowell was an exceptional author and screenwriter. He wrote the screenplays for Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, among others. This novel was outstanding and I highly recommend it to any horror fan, but especially to fans of late 70s and 80s horror! Trust me, you will kick yourself if you wait any longer to jump into the River Styx. Seriously, you will.

*A free e-copy of this novel was provided by Valancourt Books in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*




About Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell was born June 1, 1950 in Enterprise, Alabama and attended public schools in southern Alabama until 1968. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from Harvard, and in 1978 he was awarded his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Brandeis.

His seventh novel written and first to be sold, The Amulet, was published in 1979 and would be followed by over thirty additional volumes of fiction written under his own name or the pseudonyms Nathan Aldyne, Axel Young, Mike McCray, and Preston Macadam. His notable books include the Southern Gothic horror novel The Elementals (1981), the serial novel Blackwater (1983), which was first published in a series of six paperback volumes, and the trilogy of “Jack & Susan” books.

By 1985 he was writing screenplays for television, including episodes for a number of anthology series such as Tales from the Darkside, Amazing Stories, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Tales from the Crypt. He went on to write the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), as well as the script for Thinner (1996). McDowell died December 27, 1999 from AIDS-related illness. Tabitha King, wife of author Stephen King, completed an unfinished McDowell novel, Candles Burning, which was published in 2006.


  • Shayne Felton

    This book was the bomb! The statement about that you can not put it down was a understatement! I was in the U,S. Army back in 1985 in Darmstadt Germany. I found this book in the small rec room on the post. I was not one to sit down and read a book, but this one was very good and very scary! One of the best!! PS This would make a very good movie!!!!PSS I would love to have a copy of the book, because I could not find a copy since.

    • Char

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Shane! I believe there was a movie of this and it featured Christopher Lloyd. This book is now available on Amazon and/or through Follow either of the links at the top of my review.
      Lastly, thank you for your service.

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