John Everson writes some of the darkest horror imaginable, sprinkles it with a healthy dose of sex, and yet it’s easy to believe every word he puts to paper. His latest story, The House by the Cemetery, is the quintessential October release. It’s the tale of a purportedly haunted house by a cemetery being refurbished as a Halloween attraction.
John wastes no time, giving us a small taste of things to come right in the prologue:
Someone had slit the woman’s throat. The murder weapon lay nearby on the floor, the knife’s silver blade coated in dark red. A spray of blood bled down the wall beside her in visual opposition to the light that bled up the wall. It was a study in opposites…the only constant was the color.
The House by the Cemetery is filled with fully fleshed-out characters. There’s the flawed carpenter hired to refurbish the house just enough to make it safe for hundreds of people to pass through every night leading up to Halloween. The paranormal investigator out to protect the spirits in the house and, by extension, the patrons paying to be frightened. The team of room designers, effects artists and actors doing their best to scare the nightly visitors. And then there’s the witch of Bremen Coven.
Everson’s love for his craft is evident throughout. I’ve found myself reading a number of haunted house stories this year. For me, it’s the trope that never gets old, and this is a particularly effective story. More fun than any haunted attraction I’ve ever been to, just in time for my favorite holiday. If you only read one Halloween story this year, be sure to make this the one. As a footnote to any movie producers who might see this, The House by the Cemetery would make one helluva film.