The $40.00 She-Devil

by Morgan Holmes

A friend of mine mentioned in an e mail that he did not have the paperback edition of Grey Maiden by Arthur D. Howden Smith. A great collection of stories I may add. Grey Maiden is the name of a sword forged in antiquity and passed down through the ages. Robert E. Howard probably read the stories in the pages of Adventure in the middle 1920s especially since Donn Othna carries a sword quite similar to Grey Maiden in “The King’s Service.”

Anyway, I knew of a hybrid comic book/used bookstore that had a copy. I stopped on the way home from work and sure enough, found it. I noticed in the vintage science fiction paperback section there was a new addition of almost a whole shelf of Robert E. Howard paperbacks. Lancer Conans, Berkeleys, Zebras, Ace — all were in beautiful condition within the mylar bags. I checked prices which ranged generally from $8.00 to $16.00.

The one that stuck out was the near fine copy of The She-Devil for a whopping $40.00! I know that book had a smaller print run but I have found copies in used bookstores in the past. Is it that rare? I remember seeing it often enough back in 1983 in bookstores and even in some drug stores. Eide’s — the venerable punk rock record/comic book/book store in downtown Pittsburgh had a copy on the shelves through most of the 80s it seemed. Maybe distribution was good for my area.

I can see a book that never hit the bookshelves (The Valley So Low and Other Stories by Manly Wade Wellman comes to mind — a book I luckily got at the time). Other book dealers must have She-Devil priced in a similar range. An Ace paperback can’t be that rare even if it had a small print run.