(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).