Ballantine kicked off its Adult Fantasy line in 1969 with Fletcher Pratt’s The Blue Star. A fantasy set in a parallel Earth where witchcraft has replaced science resulting in a 20th century culture and society more reminiscent of the 18th. In Pratt’s world, hereditary psychic powers can only be held by one female member of a family at any given time, being passed from mother to daughter upon the latter’s coming of age. The “Blue Star” of the title is the magical mind-reading talisman that all witches possess, held in trust by their lovers and effective only so long as they remain true.
With a wonderfully iconic cover from well-known SF and Fantasy illustrator Ron Walotsky, The Blue Star embodies the aesthetic of the era. Indeed, the entire Ballantine Adult Fantasy series brilliantly managed to both celebrate the classic work of authors of the past (The Blue Star was originally published in 1952), while at the same time pushing the boundaries of the commercial art of this highly creative period in publishing.