ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION
John Everson has to be congratulated for having the courage of his nightmares. Not every writer would be able to convert his most freakish and kinkiest imaginings into neatly plotted narratives as Everson does here.
In Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, Everson plonks down a platter of twenty bloody psychosexual gobbets — almost half not previously published — with revealing introductions about his methods and goals. Just one example of the kind of material on display here: “Pumpkin Head” concerns the masturbatory Halloween habits of a young lad and the unlucky consequences of his defilements.
Can you say “the Stephen King version of American Pie“?
PAINTED ROCK E-ZINE
This is a wonderfully nasty little collection of twenty-one dark, and often erotic, horror tales. Everson has a clear and sometimes poetic style that lulls and enthralls, drawing you in comfortably only to snap you up. The stories here are all good. Some suspenseful, others gently persuasive.
YELLOW is a particularly good piece — my favorite. Original, twisted. . . the discovery of a lost god and goddess and the sacrifices they require. The title piece, CAGE OF BONES, presents a couple that will go to any lengths to satisfy their lustful cravings.
Temptation anyone? DEAD GIRL ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD will make it difficult to resist. EVERY LAST DROP is a creepy one. Better not to pay attentionto the scribblings on the bathroom wall, you never know who, or what, you’ll be meeting. THE MOUTH is an emotional piece, both sad and horrifying.
This only touches on the types of stories to be found within Cage of Bones and once read, they stay with you.
Everson is both an author and reviewer of dark fiction. His work has appeared in publications like TERMINAL FRIGHT and DELIRIUM. You can learn more about him and his work by visiting his web page at: www.johneverson.com
Issue 27, May-July 2001
Death and sex. Sex and death. The two most powerful and fascinating subjects explored by artists throughout time. Franchises have been built around one or the other. The porn industry. Slasher flicks. Strip clubs. Grand guignol theater… What is it at the core of the human condition that fuels our obsession with these two concepts? A large part of it must be due to the air of mystery that surrounds the two. Everybody loves a mystery. What will happen to me when I die? Will I go to Heaven, walk golden streets hand-in-hand with Jesus? Or will I go to Hell, cast into a lake of fire with my fellow sinners? Or will I simply rot in the ground, nothing more than an empty husk of once animate, thinking, feeling matter?… What does the new girl (writing from a man’s perspective) at work look like naked? How is she in bed? Is she into anything kinky?… And the lengths some people will go to for answers. The awful things people have done. But there is a safe, healthy way to explore these mysteries, to ponder them, to possibly achieve enlightenment without causing harm to oneself or those around him/her. Through art. Movies. Paintings. Theater. Fiction. Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing a collection of fiction which explores the themes of death and sex in great detail, a collection called Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions by John Everson.
“Yellow” is the first story out of the gate, and here we immediately see the two aforementioned themes at work. The narrator has taken his wife on a getaway to a cabin in the woods where he hopes to get some writing done and try to set right his failing marriage. But he soon finds a cave in the woods, and in that cave is a stream, and that stream leads him to a statue — a giant, powerful, erotic image that has been waiting for someone just like him to come along…
Two stories later we encounter the title piece, “Cage of Bones,” in which a couple take their need for kinky sex to the extreme, where death is the ultimate pleasure… “Pumpkin Head” gives new meaning to the idea of having a piece of pumpkin pie and “Direkit Seed” will make any horny guy think twice about going home with that hot woman he just met at the bar.Later we have a meeting with “The Mouth,” a backwoods-sex-freak story, the type of writing Ed Lee is famous for (which is never a bad thing, in this humble critic’s opinion).
“Wooden” brings the reader face-to-face with a woman who takes the role of dominatrix to a whole new level. “Swallowing the Pill” is a FALLING DOWN type of story in which the protagonist wakes up one day — with a little urging from a friend — and decides he’s just not going to take the bullshit anymore, especially from his overbearing boss and his cheating wife. “Broken Window” is one of the collection’s more moving pieces and tells of a man who is offered an actual glimpse into his lover’s soul.
A few tales later we arrive at one of my favorites of the bunch, “Murdering the Language.” Here, a narrow-minded old woman becomes head librarian and begins the task of destroying the books she finds offensive, has deemed too perverse to grace the library’s shelves any longer (mostly horror and fantasy novels, of course). Clive Barker must go. Anne Rice too. And Stephen King? Most definitely. Unfortunately for her, the books have other ideas. “Anniversary” shows us the lengths a woman will go to in order to satisfy the lover who arrives with each full moon. And last, but most definitely not least, we come to “Bloodroses,” a dark, poignant tale, in which a woman who cannot see, taste, or smell finds a man who opens up a breathtaking world to her through touch. But a person who cannot see can also be hideously deceived.
Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions is a collection of twenty dark, well-crafted tales, half of which have been covered here, the other half of which are equally entertaining. Sex and death. Death and sex. What better themes, what greater mysteries can be explored by the arts, by fiction in particular? In the hands of a skilled writer the veil can be lifted, the mystery exposed and experienced vicariously, safely. John Everson is such a writer, and a very willing guide. Each of his stories is a dark and tantalizing show well worth the price of admission.
1000 DELIGHTS Magazine
The second book I read was Cage of Bones, which is an erotic horror collection, as says the introduction by P.D. Cacek, “…why would anyone want to take the time to read [this introduction] when the lure of sexual misconduct with vegetables and unbridled passions beckons just a few pages away?”
John Everson has crafted an incredible collection that will surely “move” you in ways you never knew possible from a horror story. I see this as the beginning of a great career for Everson. His work shows promise of becoming remarkable, and many of the stories in his collection are at their peak. I found the flash fiction to be wonderful, and the longer pieces were also.
Did every story hit the spot? Almost. I didn’t really understand “Broken Window”, and “Yellow” had too much descriptive narrative for my taste, but other than that, the stories were great. The endings were unexpected, and the shock factor was at 10! After each story, you may find yourself saying “eww”, and then going back for more. This book is no disappointment, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a break from reality. It would also be a great companion on a long trip, or maybe this book is better suited for the hotel room…
Guilty pleasures? Maybe.