The Covenant – John Everson



A covenant is an agreement between two parties to either do or not do something. If the word covenant sounds old and slightly sinister, you’re starting to get a feel of where the story is going.

Joe is a young newspaper reporter that is escaping heartbreak and loss from the mean streets of Chicago and moves to the small coastal hamlet of Terrel. For a reporter, Terrel is pretty mundane and boring. There are no real stories to sink your teeth into. So when he gets wind that a local teenager took a swan dive from the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean, Joe is all about finding out what happened. When he discovers that people have been offing themselves from this spot since there was lighthouse perched up there a 100 years ago, Joe smells a story that gets his juices flowing. The problem is no one is talking. The sheriff and his editor want him to leave the story alone. Not one of the victim’s parents will say a word and treat him like he’s a disease. What is going on here?

Covenant won a Bram Stoker Award for First Novel for Everson and you can see shades of why. At times, the writing and story reminds me somewhat of Charles L. Grant. That’s a good thing. But there are times when the marriage between old school eerieness and splatterpunk rape scenes don’t seem to mesh all that well. Why many of the characters let themselves get into the covenant, in the first place, isn’t entirely convincing. And you’ll want to scream at the top of your lungs when it appears Joe has all the answers in the book he eventually holds in his hands and then acts as if he can’t be bothered to read it. So yes, there are some warts. But, overall, Covenant is a pretty good offering by Everson that shows tell-tale signs that it is his first novel.

3 1/2 horny demons out of 5
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Stolen Away – Kristin Dearborn



We’ve all done things we’ve regretted, especially in our twenties. Sometimes you’re looking to let off a little steam, maybe forget all about the one that broke your heart. Trisha is not different. A single mom who’s lived a hard life filled with hard drugs. When her and her boyfriend, Joel, break up because he’s bailed for another woman, Trisha decides that she’s going to party her ass off at a club and hook up with someone to forget about him. She accomplishes all the above and hooks up with a guy that has DEMON tattooed on his back. DEMON gives Trisha some Extacy like she’s never had before. This stuff was potent. How else would you explain his skin turning red and horns emerging from his head while her body turns into sometime reptilian with iridescent scales? After the crazy night of rough sex with DEMON, Trisha ends up pregnant with his baby. She decides to clean up her life, no drugs, get a decent job and become a real mother to her daughter and newborn baby boy, Brayden. All seems like it’s looking up until the night she’s awakened by her daughter screaming. When she enters their bedroom, she discovers that the baby is gone and her daughter says that a monster took him away. DEMON has returned to claim his son. With nowhere else to turn, Trisha enlists Joel’s help to return to the life she has tried so hard to put in the past to get Brayden back.

Kristin Dearborn has concocted an excellent tale of demons infiltrating our seedy underworld, taking what they want and no one being the wiser. Stolen Away isn’t a story with superhero angels and devils. Demon and his entourage feel like people we’ve all seen at the clubs. Kristin and Joel haven’t made the best choices, but they’re trying to do the best they can. By showing their flaws, Dearborn gives the story a sense of every day realism which, in my opinion, is the only way to pull this story off. It’s gritty and grimy, just like the real world. I have to admit, I couldn’t quite get into Dearborn’s earlier story, The Woman in White. The characters felt too wooden and unreal. With Stolen Away, I’m pleased to announce that there isn’t even a slight hint of that. This one is the real deal and if you’re looking for a tale about demons, go ahead and pass up the subpar Horns by Joe Hill and pick yourself up a copy of Stolen Away. It’s the best story that I’ve read in 2016.

5 cloven hooves out of 5

This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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