I have been a fan of John Everson for a long time. I first read one of his short story collections released by Delirium Books around 10 years ago and was instantly hooked. Needless to say, when I saw that he had a short story collection coming out in December from Samhain Publishing, I knew that “Sacrificing Virgins” was a must-read book for me.
“Sacrificing Virgins” is a collection of 25 stories from the Stoker Award-winning author and serves as a good example of the range of his talent. There are stories that will make the reader think and others that will make the reader scream in terror. The stories in the collection range from the subtle to the extreme (it should be known going in that there is some fairly extreme sex and violence in some of the stories) and yet Everson pulls off every story with his own flair so that there is not a bad story in the collection. Of course, some will appeal to some readers more than others but that is to be expected. For me to be able to say that I enjoyed every one in a collection of this size is a testament to just how good Everson is.
The collection kicks off with “She Found Spring” and this was a great way to start the collection. This is a ghost tale but not a horror tale as we learn about a ghost that only appears once every year. This story shows the softer side of Everson as the tale is strangely touching and one that stuck with me as I continued on into the collection. Another story that is similar in the respect that it made me sit back and think as I read it was “Faux” about the king of the jungle hunting in an artificial jungle. The story has nothing in common with “She Found Spring” except that they are both somewhat subtle on the horror but strong on ideas that will make the reader scratch his chin in thought. These were two of my favorites from the collection and show the amazing range of stories that Everson can craft when put in comparison with other stories presented here.
Going a little more to the extreme is “Fish Bait” which takes the idea of drinking games to a whole new level. “Star on the Beach” is another poignant yet somewhat sickening look at learning to appreciate what one has instead of always looking for more. “The White House” is almost a new sort of Hansel and Gretel tale and “Eardrum Buzz” is a nausea-inducing take on music as the gateway for a new god (or devil).
I could go on about every story in the collection but the simple conclusion is that this is one of the better horror collections that you are going to find. There are some stories that are sure to shock even the most jaded of readers but those stories of extreme horror are only part of the story. John Everson is an oft-overlooked talent in the genre and “Sacrificing Virgins” is a great way for readers to get to experience for the first time or just to revisit some great stories once more.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Sacraficing Virgins” is scheduled to be released in December.