Thursday, March 14, 2013

Covenant by John Everson

(pb; 2004, 2008: first book in The Curburide Chronicles)

From the back cover:

"To the residents of the sleepy coastal town of Terrel, the cliffs of Terrel's Peak are a deadly place, an evil place where terrible things happen.  Like a series of mysterious teen suicides over the years, all on the same date.  Or other deaths, usually reported as accidents.  Could it be a coincidence?  Or is there more to it?  Reporter Joe Kieran is determined to find the truth.

"Kieran's search will lead him deep into the town's hidden past, a past filled with secrets and horror, and to the ruins of the old lighthouse atop the tragic cliffs.  He will uncover rumors and whispered legends - including the legend of the evil entity that lives and waits in the caves below Terrel's Peak."


This novel - winner of the Bram Stoker Award - has a familiar set-up (small coastal town horror, sacrifices disguised as suicides and accidents, outsider digging through town's dark past, etc.), but Everson's taut tale-telling, emotionally complex characters and the natural panache of his writing render any criticism of the set-up's familiarity moot. 

Everson clearly knows that he's using ideas that have provided the skeletons of many other horror novels, but like most above-average writers, he's toying with these (possible) clichés in a masterful, all-thrills way.

There are no wasted words in this burn-through read of a horror tale, a tale that has an ending that could either be a chilling finish or a natural set-up for a sequel. 

Worth owning, this.

Followed by Sacrifice.


Additional note: Covenant could also provide the basis for an excellent cult b-movie, if the right talent made it, e.g. the film version of Jack Ketchum's Offspring (sequel to Ketchum's Off Season).

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