WTF Friday: Covenant by John Everson

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

While I had purchased several of John Everson's novels over the years - most notably Covenant and NightWhere - it wasn't until the release of Sacrificing Virgins that I realized what I had been missing and became a hardcore fan. With Redemption out now to finish up The Curburide Chronicles, I decided to go back to the beginning and read my way through to the finale.

Originally published back in 2004, Covenant was the debut novel by John Everson . . . and there's a damned good reason it won the Stoker Award for best first novel. This is dark, sexually charged, brutally violent, supernatural horror. It's a book with a great backstory, a twisted sense of history, and some fantastic characters.

At the core of Covenant is a classic ghost story involving an old lighthouse, a demonic presence, a history of suicides, and a small town that refuses to talk about it. At first, Joe Kieran suspects a murderous small-town cult, but the deeper he digs into the mystery, the more he finds it harder to deny the threat of the supernatural. Even his darkest fears, however, can't compare to the truth of what lies beneath the cliffs.

This is not a story for weak stomachs or sensitive souls. There are multiple scenes of rape and molestation, all driven by supernatural forces. Nobody is safe from the town's curse, with men and women compelled to act out their darkest desires, made to crave the shame, and forced to enjoy it - at least in the heat of the moment. As if that weren't enough, the sex is often bloody as well, adding to its occult nature. There aren't too many authors who can move from erotic spectacle to emotional trauma in the space of a paragraph, but Everson does it, and does it well.

While the climax is hardly a surprise, I did like the way the story came full circle, and am anxious to move onto Sacrifice next.

Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Leisure Books (first published 2004)