Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by John Everson
Published by Leisure Books
You’d think, in this day and age, no one would be surprised if they wandered into a small town and found it held some terrible dark secret from decades past. I mean, really, it seems like small towns, especially ones on the East Coast, are about the only place left where dark secrets can hide nowadays, at least for any decent length of time.
Nevertheless, reporter Joe Kieran finds it alarming when one of the local kids throws themselves off of Terrel’s Peak, a massive cliff high above the ocean, and the town’s police force don’t seem nearly as concerned as they should be. In fact, they almost act like they were expecting such a thing to happen…
Luickly for both the plot and the character, Kieran is s reporter from Chicago who’s come to this small town to get away from some of his own demons, so he’s got the old school reporter instincts that force him to look into anything he finds suspicious, despite what it’s cost him in the past. What he soon discovers is not anywhere near what he expected; seems there’s a demon taking up residence in the caves below Terrel’s Peak, a demon who’s got a taste for human sacrifice. Of course, really, what demon doesn’t?
Years ago, you see, said demon entered into a covenant (hence the title) with a group of then girls who stumbled upon the creature’s residence. After taking over their minds and forcing them to do some pretty dirty, if not deeply emotionally scarring, things to one another, he tells them that if they want to keep on living their lives as-is, he’ll be taking a sacrifice every year at the same time, usually a wanderer who happens into town.
How Kieran comes about all this info is where you’ll be taken as Everson doles out his tale, which I have to admit was a lot more fun to read than I initially expected. Sure, the plot doesn’t vary much from the usual arc involving a stranger finding out about a town’s dark mystery (another running theme in Leisure books, or perhaps it’s just horror in general these days), but enough interesting elements are thrown in to keep my interest.
About halfway in the book takes a pretty abrupt (at least, to me) turn into a strangely sexual territory that was also refreshing. Too often authors don’t want to tackle bizarre or uncomfortable sexual situations, afraid of how they can affect a reader’s comfort level with the story, but Everson has no such qualms. Indeed, the sexual aspects of Covenant are what help it stand out from the crowd of plodding small-town horror stories.
So if you’re in the mood for a well-paced tale of human sacrifice, big city reporters, lots of sex and an abundant use of the word “covenant” (for a while it seems like that might be the only word the aforementioned demon knows), get yourself a copy of John Everson’s Covenant.
Of course, because the book did well a sequel is on its way from Leisure (it was originally published by Delirium Books), called Sacrifice, which considering how Covenant ends should be a pretty fun read if it’s done well.
3 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Covenant in the Dread Central forums!