Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sacrifice, (Leisure Fiction), by John Everson

Bram Stoker Award Winner John Everson has followed up “Covenant” with a tale that's just as riveting. Everson spins a great story, and it's impossible to escape the whirlwind. Filled to the brim with sex, violence, and – well – sex with violence, “Sacrifice” is a guilty pleasure, the kind of novel we're all afraid our parents will discover we've been reading late at night, under the covers with the flashlight on.

Since reporter Joe Kiernan outmaneuvered the sadistic demon Malachi by binding him, the small town of Terrell has been quiet. Freed from a pact Malachi held over the townspeople for centuries, Terrel's Peak has become nothing more than what it is: the ruins of an old lighthouse, and an underground geode full of sparkling – and harmless – crystals. Joe Kienan, however, is hardly the swaggering hero. Chained to a sarcastic – and untrustworthy – demonic servant, Joe is forced to leave loved ones behind in Terrel as he travels to parts unknown to determine his future.

All is not well, however. Centuries ago, lighthouse keeper Broderick Terrel made his original pact with Malachi to defeat a race of sadistic and bloodthirsty demons known as the Curburide. The Curburide are back, and this time they have a Caller – a mysterious, sensuous young woman leaving a trail of mutilated bodies in her wake. If she completes her Calling, the Curburide will be granted full access to the world. They will release every degradation known to man – and many more - as they feed off human flesh and spirit.

Standing in their way is a reluctant Joe Kienan, who once again finds himself in the midst of a supernatural maelstrom. He's not alone; thanks to Malachi's manipulations, he's joined by a young girl named Alex...but can he trust her? Her parents have been brutally murdered, she's wanted for questioning, and she can see spirits, talk to them...even harness their power. Worse, Joe feels himself drawing near to this vulnerable, attractive girl, reminding him all too well of what he left behind in Terrel...a town the Curburide will be drawn to, once more.

Everson is in full form. The action is quick, brutal, and visceral. In many ways, “Sacrifice” is like that “slasher flick” we know we shouldn't enjoy but do anyway. The attraction here, however, is his ability to draw complicated, conflicted characters. Joe Kienan is the epitome of the “weary hero”, saddled with a responsibility he neither asked for, nor wants. Alex is a young girl coming to grips with who she really is, trying to recover from years of abuse at the hands of fanatical parents. Even Malachi gets the makeover treatment, so that readers suspect by the novel's end there's more to this demon than it's sadistic whims and brittle sarcasm. Anyway you slice it, “Sacrifice” is a horror novel with hidden depths.

Visit and Buy it now.

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