by John Everson
“I’m married to two incredible women – one dead and one alive. Is this bigamy?”
Mr. Everson’s first novel, Covenant, is so effective a combination of horror and erotica it can (and did) single-handedly usher a jaded reader back into the broader world of horror writing.
Cage of Bones was read over a period of many months, and all or nearly all the stories within further the themes of sex and horror. There’s not a dud in the bunch, but the squeamish will surely disagree. Of the 20 stories contained 4 were fair, 11 good, and 5 were excellent.
Possibly the top story, “Dead Girl on the Side of the Road” has a man forcibly seduced by a 12 year old apparent accident victim as he tries to help her survive her injuries.
Others of note were “The Last Plague” (post-apocalyptic, seduction), “Anniversary” (werewolf love & murder), “When Barrettes Brought Justice to a Burning Heart” (supernatural revenge for rape of daughter), and “Tomorrow” (a crippled, psychic prodigy terrorizes his parents).
Not nearly as highly rated, but a ridiculous, well-written tale of insanity was “The Mouth,” featuring a mysterious prostitute and a sexually frustrated man. Crazy. And more than a little gross.
A solid collection hammering home Mr. Everson’s specialty, this is not for everyone. Avid horror readers will be fine, but be cautious in regards to your significant others unless they are used to picking up this kind of thing. If easing into the author you may be better off starting with his first novel, Covenant. As for this collection, Cage of Bones and Other Deadly Obsessions pushes against the boundaries of sex and horror and is quite enjoyable.