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The Amulet

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  353 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
When a rifle range accident leaves Dean Howell disfigured and in a vegetative state, his wife Sarah finds her dreary life in Pine Cone, Alabama made even worse. After long and tedious days on the assembly line, she returns home to care for her corpse-like husband while enduring her loathsome and hateful mother-in-law, Jo. Jo blames the entire town for her son’s mishap, and ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 1979 by Avon Books (first published 1979)
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Mar 06, 2014 Char rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a good time! It contained all the good over-the-top-ness of 80's horror. (Technically this book was originally published in 1979, but I'm calling it 80's horror anyway. So sue me.)

This is another book by Mr. McDowell that was allowed to go out of print, but was brought back by Valancourt Books. (Another being the phenomenal book, The Elementals. ) With an introduction by Poppy Z. Brite (which I recommend you read AFTER you've finished the book), this novel was a tasty treat that I
Sep 22, 2015 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book in August, but couldn't find my rating up here.

THE AMULET was a superb, mysteriously supernatural novel by Michael McDowell. Both his characterization and atmosphere of this small town were wonderfully descriptive. While the title alone gives knowledge of what this book is about, it's the everyday occurrences, and interactions between the characters that fully bring the story to life. Captivating from first to last page, with an ending that will have you thinking for some ti
Apr 05, 2009 Tressa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, southern
I could kick myself for getting rid of my copy of this book decades ago. McDowell's books are sometimes hard to find because most are out of out of print. I used to get a thrill any time I found one of his books in a second hand book store.

This is a book set in Alabama about the terrible things that befall a small southern town when the townsfolk are in possession of an amulet. If you've read "The Monkey's Paw," you'll get the gist of what this story is about.
Dec 10, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever there was an author you wished had been more prolific in there work I think for me, Michael McDowell would certainly be at the top of the list. I love the Blackwater series and regularly re-read it. So when it comes to his other works (which as you no doubt have realised are painfully few) I relish them all and the Amulet is no exception.

This for me is what horror is all about, don't me wrong I am not squeamish and a little blood and guts in the right place really do have an impact but i
Aug 16, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Most horror fans may not know of this prolific author, who penned some of the most memorable paperback originals in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, before his untimely death. McDowell even enjoyed Hollywood acclaim as a screenwriter, most notably writing Nightmare Before Christmas.

In his debut novel, THE AMULET, starts off slow, but much of this is McDowell's intent to completely set the scene and setting: late 60s Alabama, the town of Pine Cone, and how many of the townspeople work in the munition
Aug 27, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Amulet starts off a little slow but then kicks up into high gear. A rifle accident has left Dean Howell in a corpse like state. Dean's wife Sarah, must take care of him and her useless mother in law. Jo Howell will not get off her lazy butt to help Sarah at all. Jo is very demanding and ruthless to Sarah! After a full day of work, Sarah must come home and make dinner and do any other chores that need to be done. The rifle that put Dean in this corpse like state, was made in his home of Pine ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Nate rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, valancourt
The Amulet was a wilder ride than I expected, and I was fully engaged from cover to cover. I couldn't help but think of the Final Destination movies as I read this, but Michael McDowell pulls of scenarios in a much classier way without getting silly. There was a fully developed sense of dread and foreshadowing that stayed fresh throughout despite the repetition of certain events. The writing was top notch with vivid descriptions and believable characters. I was slightly disappointed that some th ...more
Sep 15, 2016 Kirstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun, gory romp through a small, southern town. Enjoyable but not as scary as I had hoped. 3.5 stars
Thomas Strömquist
Well this was disappointing. When you buckle down to read a 1979 horror pulp paperback you’re probably not expecting an intro (actually, a good-sized portion of the book) with descriptions of a small Alabama town and some of the families in it and their recent history. And you would certainly not expect it to be the best part of the book!

When the simple but effective story finally kicked off, I thought I was in for a treat. Unfortunately, the proceedings are repeated time after another with ver
Christopher Fulbright
Jul 04, 2014 Christopher Fulbright rated it really liked it
I love all of McDowell's horror fiction that I have read so far, and THE AMULET was no exception. As with COLD MOON OVER BABYLON, McDowell spends quite a bit of time (the first 30 or 40 pages) setting the scene and drawing a clear picture of the small town of Pine Cone, Alabama, which I think is critical to the story, but some readers may find tiresome.

Despite the slow beginning, THE AMULET quickly displays its charms when the object at the center of book finally appears and begins working its
Aug 18, 2014 Pamellia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of murders, lots of murders
Recommended to Pamellia by: Valancourt Books
Shelves: 2014
The Amulet by Michael McDowell
Started August 14, completed August 18, 2014
Valancourt recommended


This book was interesting. However there were way too many murders. Also accidental deaths. People were dying left and right in this book.

I thought a lot more could have been done with the plot and action (actions that did not involve murders and accidental deaths). Obviously the author was a good writer. Perhaps this book is a sign of the times as it was written several decades a
Benjamin Stahl
Feb 02, 2013 Benjamin Stahl rated it liked it
This was a solidly written horror novel about an evil pendant, and the horrible - sometimes hilarious - spring of violent misfortune it brought about its recipients. Peter Straub himself quoted McDowell as one of the greatest writers of modern horror, and although I wouldn't go that far, I do agree that the author certainly knows how to grab his readers' attention and hold it till the very end. There are many little nuances in this book that work perfectly in stimulating the morbid fascination o ...more
C.J. Sellers
Apr 19, 2014 C.J. Sellers rated it really liked it
This was the adult horror story I read as a teen -- the one I could never find again, years later. I'd misremembered the book name and had totally forgotten the author's name. Finally, I found it again. It was just as I remembered it. Rereading the first chapter, it's no wonder I was sucked in as a child. And reading further, it's no wonder I could never forget it. The things that happen in this book... horrors! Not for the faint-hearted.
Grady Hendrix
Mar 13, 2015 Grady Hendrix rated it really liked it
Sometimes you’re just wrong. Michael McDowell probably figured that his books would be his legacy. After all, Stephen King called him “the finest writer of paperback originals in America” and said he was “a writer for the ages.” Surely literary immortality was assured by his two screenplays for Tim Burton, Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Collecting funerary ephemera was just a hobby. By now McDowell been dead for 15 years and his books are long forgotten while his massive “Death ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Fishface rated it it was amazing
Very endearing little novel. Combines the best features of pulp horror and Southern Gothic. I have read it over and over through the years, and just writing this review wants me want to rush home and read it again.
Jun 14, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Final Destination meets The Crazies! The Amulet was a wickedly entertaining old school horror story that I will no doubt revisit.

Drafted to serve his country and join the war in Vietnam, Dean Howell is gravely wounded during a rifle training exercise before he can even get there. Returning to his hometown in a vegetative state, Dean is left in the care of his dutiful overworked wife Sarah and his vile mother Jo. Jo blames the whole town for Dean’s accident because the rifle that blew up in his f
Sep 16, 2014 Brucifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't heard of Michael McDowell until recently, probably because his books fell into the glut of paperback originals during the horror "boom" of the late 70s/80s and didn't get noticed by many (I doubt many professional reviewers bothered either). But now his novels have been resurrected by the reliable Valancourt Books, and thanks to their good taste and McDowell's growing reputation as a talented genre novelist, he's getting a bit better known posthumously. The Amulet is not a great novel ( ...more
Sep 28, 2015 D.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From now until Halloween I'd like to trot out some of my favorite books from the horror genre. "The Amulet" follows the trajectory of a piece of haunted jewelry as it is passed unwittingly from person to person, causing strange non-sensical deaths. A hairstylist takes off the top of a customer's brain only to fall into the sharp blades of the over-head fan and become decapitated. A friend finds herself submerging her best friend's head in molten cinnamon syrup used to candy apples. Pigs attack. ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
I don't think many people have even heard of this author, but this was unexpectedly good. Bought it for the cover. I got a well written, , grim, angry horror story. The author doesn't pull any punches and dispatches poor rednecks in some really awful ways. An added layer of horror centers around the protagonists brain-dead husband and evil step mother. If I have any complaints there is just too much material underlining how sad the main characters life has become. Otherwise a good, fast-paced re ...more
Good to see Michael McDowell (RIP) back in print, but hoping they don't stop here and reissue his superior haunted house horror tale from 1981, The Elementals, as well as his 6 book Blackwater series - would love to read all of those again. The Amulet was his first published effort back in 1980 and it's a fun exercise in Grand Guignol. McDowell excelled at evoking a very Flannery O'Connor-esque deep south, with funny-horrible characters and a deeply dark sense of humor. A quick, entertaining pre ...more
Dec 07, 2015 A.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost as good as his novel, The Elementals--which many consider one of the best horror novels of all time--The Amulet holds its own as a creepy classic. This was actually McDowell's seventh novel and the first to get him an agent and a big-six publisher, and that gives me hope, as I just self-published my sixth novel. No one writes horror like the late McDowell, whose dysfunctional Alabama characters fascinate and infatuate all who read him.
Sep 05, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
You know? I actually really enjoyed this book. I think it may have been a Stephen King recommendation or something because it's not something I'd naturally gravitate towards. However, I found it totally entertaining--great characters!
Dan Poblocki
Jan 25, 2013 Dan Poblocki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book is just awesome. Like "La Ronde," but with death.
Mika Lietzén
May 11, 2015 Mika Lietzén rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Oh glorious paperbacks! Michael McDowell's first paperback original is a triumph despite the odds; what could be a run-of-the-mill story about a cursed object becomes a marvel of storytelling.

Long descriptions of an Alabama town called Pine Cone kick off the story about a revenge gone rampant; local man Dean Howell is about to be sent to Vietnam, when a rifle explodes in his face. A rifle, as it happens, built in a munitions factory in his home town. He returns as a silent, bandaged hulk, to be
Mar 03, 2011 Debra rated it really liked it
Stephen King recommended book and aurhor. Noted as "important to the genre we have been discussing" from Danse Macabre, published in 1981.

About the author he says: “McDowell must now be regarded as the finest writer of paperback originals in America.”
Jan 09, 2017 Gregoire rated it liked it
Shelves: horreur
Un roman d'horreur publié en 1979, une plongée dans l'Amérique "profonde" de l'époque, une histoire à la Stephan King plutôt bien menée qui concentre dans une amulette maléfique toutes les noirceurs de l'âme humaine
A réserver aux amateurs du genre
Jul 07, 2015 Tom rated it it was amazing
That was a lot of fun! Thanks Goodreads for reminding me how much I loved 80's horror. McDowell has a voice all his own. Can't wait to read more.
Nov 13, 2009 Christie rated it it was amazing
This story is written very well. Its very chilly; a real page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more.
Jan 03, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cursed necklace ... you won't ever look at your washing machine the same way after reading this...
Bryce Warren
Mar 23, 2015 Bryce Warren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a "must-read" for horror fans! Gruesome fun and dark humor abounds! Michael McDowell is a lost treasure. If you haven't read him, you must give him a try.
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Michael McDowell is a prolific horror writer who has distinguished himself with a varied body of work within the genre. He was born in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1950 and died of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1999.

His first horror novel, The Amulet, relates the tragedies that befall various individuals who come in possession of a supernatural bracelet in a small town.

In McDowell'
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“And among adults, adultery is an unmentionable thing, which only occurs in the Bible and in Mobile.” 3 likes
“Merle Weaver stroked the little girl's hair and thought of the two corpses in the rear of the truck.” 2 likes
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