this earlier post, I was honored to introduce John Everson at an event for librarians. He was a huge hit! This was a big coup since out of the 100 people in the room, maybe 5 of us would call ourselves horror fans.
In preparation for the event, I read Everson's newest novel, NightWhere which is currently up for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. The awards will be announced on June 15th. And after reading NightWhere, I understand why this novel is up for a Bram Stoker Award.
Let's start with the frame. As I said here, NightWhere is like most of Everson's works-- violent and sexual. But it is not gratuitous sex and violence because of the complex and compelling frame he build to support the novel. NightWhere is an invite only sex club, or at least that is how it seems at first. Rae is happily married to Mark, but she has always needed more sexually than him. Mark happily indulged her needs by visiting different swingers clubs, but when Rae and Mark finally get an invite to the elusive NightWhere, things change forever.
Narrated alternatively by Rae and Mark, we see Rae loose herself to demons of NightWhere. And I am not exaggerating, there are real evil demons here. She gets caught up in the sex and violence and her soul is being taken by the club and the evil force that runs it because this is no ordinary pop-up club. It ceases existing during the day and magically reappears somewhere anew at night. Those inside subject themselves to horrible violence for pleasure--violence against themselves and others. If you live until dawn, the club magically heals you while you sleep the day away.
Mark spend most of the book trying to get back into the club to save Rae. He eventually gets some help, but Rae may be too far gone.
NightWhere begins with one of the best prologues I have read in awhile. It sets up an atmosphere of pure terror and dread that hangs over the introductory chapters of the novel. As a reader, I rushed through the first few chapters knowing something TERRIBLE was going to happen, and even with that knowledge and expectation, what Everson delivered was even more terrifying and awful than I had been imagining. Kudos to him. I read a lot of horror, and even I was shocked.
The novel also does a great job of creating a world where pure evil lurks just on the outskirts of the real world. In my opinion, this is the best kind of horror; a story which COULD happen; a terror which could be lurking just around the corner. Specifically, as a Chicagoland resident, I was also interested in the Chicago and its suburbs setting. The club NightWhere even appeared right near my actual house at one point in the novel. Freaky...
As usual for Everson, the two protagonists were also very well developed. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: in a male dominated genre, Everson writes female characters very well.
On a personal note, for me, there were too many sex scenes. I started skimming them, but they do match the visceral violence punch for punch. Together the sex and violence adds to the well built world of the club and its demons. And, since it is the world building that is the strongest asset here, I was ultimately fine with it.
Finally, NightWhere pays off with a true horror ending. There is no wimping out here. Things end badly and the demons are still going...maybe even next setting up shop in a neighborhood near you...
Three Words That Describe This Book: graphic sex and violence, excellent world building, nightmarish atmosphere
Readalikes: John Everson's 2 biggest inspirations for his brand of horror are Clive Barker and Edward Lee. Both write graphic horror like Everson, full of sex and violence. I would highly suggest Imajica by Barker and City Infernal by Lee.
If you are looking for more straight forward erotic horror, Lucy Taylor is the best for that.
I have heard people call this Fifty Shades for horror fans. I agree but it is NOT horror for Fifty Shades fans. Do not mix that up. This is not a romance book at all. It may be about a sex club, but romance fans will be disappointed. There is no happily ever after for anyone here. NightWhere is a bad, bad place that steals your soul. Love, no matter how strong, cannot beat the demons.
But, if you have horror fans who want to also read erotica, NightWhere is the perfect book for them.
Finally, if you like Everson's character development, violence level, and world building, but could do with a little less sex, check out Brian Keene.