Written by John Everson
Published by Twilight Tales
Finding an author one likes can present a reader with a dilemma. Whatever book first brought the author to a person’s eye may send them searching for previous works, which are sometimes hard to find. Author John Everson solves that problem with this collection, bringing together stories from as far back as 1994 and as recent as 2003 published in magazines such as Eulogy and Black October. Instead of fans having to go looking for old issues that may be impossible to find, Everson collected his stories into Vigilantes of Love.
From the opening story, Everson proves himself capable of horror, both understated and overt, and of capturing readers’ imaginations with his compelling characters and unique twists on familiar themes. Each story is strengthened by vivid descriptions, but it is his ability to create characters with whom readers can identify that makes them all the more powerful. Included in this collection are not only ghosts and supernatural monsters, but also fiends of the human variety, victims of their own desires, and what comes across as a fable or two
There are lessons to be learned in each story, which Everson manages to get across without preaching to the reader. Whether it is the dangers of cheating in After the Fifth Step, the love of family in A Time for Music and The Seven Deadly Seeds, or even the meaning of Christmas in a family of witches in Christmas, The Hard Way, the lessons are well taught and told in ways that make the reader feel sympathy for the main characters
Of the stories in this collection, the best by far is the first, Calling of the Moon. Hearkening back to the writing style of Lovecraft, Everson tells the story of a homeless man who is befriended by an old woman who has a strange fascination with the moon. While not particularly horrific, the story is powerful and, for lack of a better word, beautiful.
Other stand-out stories include After the Fifth Step, in which a tightrope walker discovers the perils of cheating on his wife in the circus; The Seven Deadly Seeds, a fable in which a family is torn apart by their own negative emotions; and “Vigilantes of Love,” in which the wandering heart is targeted by supernatural forces.
Lest readers think this is a book of nothing but love stories, there are sections with enough dementia to keep any horror fan happy. Stories rich in twisted fun are Trick and Treat, The Right Instrument, and The Humane Way Everson shows his horror prowess with Twilight Zone effectiveness and can make even the most jaded readers cringe.
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