First let me say I am ashamed I have never read anything from John Everson before. Why didn’t someone tell me about this guy? Wow. Sacrificing Virgins is Everson’s fourth collection and contains twenty-five of the darkest, most sexually perverse stories I’ve ever read, and I mean that as a complement.
While reading this book, a friend heard me talking about it and asked what she should read by him. I suggested visiting his website at JohnEverson.com and just pick something that struck her fancy, but I also warned that I found his stories to be among the most disturbing I’ve ever read. I compared it to a dark amusement park where Stephen King was the kiddie rides and John Everson was the thrill rides for the more adventurous reader. Don’t get me wrong, I love Stephen King, but Everson just takes horror to a whole new level.
As I looked over the list of stories in the collection, preparing to write this review, so many of the titles took me back to the heart of its tale and made me shiver. That’s a job well done.
“She Found Spring” – The collection begins with a wonderfully charming ghost story just filled with melancholy.
“In Memoryum” – What if you wanted nothing more than to forget, but once you forgot, you wanted nothing more than to remember?
“Bad Day” – I hate bugs. This short has a new one that really creeped me out. One of the best horror shorts I’ve read in some time. Fires on all cylinders.
“Nailed” – Killer opening line. “Some people found their sex toys in the adult catalogues and others in seedy bookstores. But Natalie found hers…in her garden.” I can promise it’s not what you’re thinking.
“The Eyes” – Worse than bugs. Messing with my eyes. I won’t even wear contacts because I have a hard time putting my own finger to my eye. This story really gave me the heebie-jeebies.
“Sacrificing Virgins” – The title story for the collection and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The tale of a rock star who made a deal with the devil. After each performance he must have sex with a virgin, before midnight, or the deal is done. What could possibly go wrong?
“Whatever You Want” – A story filled to overflowing with perverse pleasures. One of the most brutal and memorable in the collection.
“Grandma Wanda’s Jelly Belly” – The title says it all. I will say this: John Everson is one sick puppy and I can’t get my fill.
“I Love Her” – A demented tale of a man and the love of his life. The story has several choice slaughterhouse similes which are to die for.
“Eardrum Buzz” – Wes is beyond excited at the prospect of joining the street team for his favorite band, Eardrum Buzz. Another story where bugs play a big part. What if that buzzing in your ears wasn’t tinnitus? Creepy.
“Field of Flesh” – Visceral storytelling at its best. Not just sex and violence, but a great story with sex and violence. Set in the same world as the author’s novel NightWhere.
“Faux” – A very short story that begins with a weekly lunch at the zoo and leads the reader to an unexpected end.
“The Pumpkin Man” – A really delightful Halloween story about the Pumpkin Man who comes to town every year with carved pumpkins that are pure works of art, until some kids learn of the inspiration for the carvings.
“The Tapping” – Proof positive that drinking and graveyards don’t mix.
“The White House” – A very twisted story of a white house with an appetite.
“Star On the Beach” – There are just so many great stories in this collection. This one involves necrophilia and even though it’s rather easy to see the end coming, the execution is just brilliant.
“My Aim is True” – Another of the shorter stories in the collection about what it comes down to for each of us in the end.
“Fish Bait” – A well-imagined story and brutally violent. A perfect title, too.
“Camille Smiled” – How far would you go to bring your dead child back to life?
“Ligeia’s Revenge on the Queen Anne’s Resurrection” – A wonderful short about the song of a siren.
“Green Apples, Red Nails” – Another Halloween tale of sorts. Sick and twisted, like so many of the stories in this collection.
“To Earn His Love” – More fun at Halloween. This one about a teacher and her special student and what she does to bring forth a demon. I’ve never seen a story where someone conjures a demon and it ends well. This is no exception.
“Still, They Go” – Another really good opening: “I loved her, but I wanted to kill her. Maybe that’s what saved her life. Maybe that’s what doomed mine.” One of so many favorites in this book. A very good little ghost story.
“Voyeur” – A sneaky story that seems to be about a peeping Tom/murderer that turns about to be about a peeping Tom/murderer. If you read the story, that comment will make perfect sense.
“The Hole to China” – A bit of a fantasy story of a young boy digging his way to China.
In the end, Sacrificing Virgins was an exhilarating read which left me yearning for more. The collection is available now in both paperback and e-book formats from Samhain. Definitely recommended, if you think you can handle the hard stuff.