Horror Fiction Review wrote “Covenant won a Bram Stoker Award in 2004 and it’s easy to see why: Everson’s writing is fast paced, the several characters are very believable (which in itself is a rarity), plus wall-to-wall chills and some moments that will haunt any sufferer of claustrophobia.”
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review called Covenant “an ideal commuter book… filled with chills and horror” and said “It’s basically a tale of what people will do to fulfill a deal with the devil and how they live with this afterwards…”
BookReview.com says “This exciting suspense thriller has the audience hooked with a need to know why once Joe begins questioning what the dispatcher meant by “another one.” John Everson has written a powerful tale as readers wonder whether it is a coincidence, the supernatural or a serial killer behind the suicides.
Dread Central said “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”… get yourself a copy of John Everson’s Covenant.
Lincoln Crisler reviewed Covenant as “10 out of 5”!
Read more about Covenant
Available in e-book, audiobook and trade paperback on Amazon.com.
Available in trade paperback from Barnes & Noble.
Cemetery Dance #55
Covenant is one of those first novels that’s a joy to read because of the author’s unabashed excitement at stretching a tale to new and wonderful limits…
Everson…writes an intriguing story of possible possession, sprinkling it with generous helpings of sex and sadism. Though the first half is a bit sedate, building up tension with little or no bloodshed, the final chapters provide plenty of sexual misdeeds and lead to a climax that leaves protagonist Joe with some rather large choices…
…Everson’s laid-back tone mimics Joe’s and serves the novel well, especially in the touches of subtle humor of which the antagonist’s “voice” is but one example. And the theme of the ensnared outsider adds a chilling subtext to Covenant‘s lighter moments, rendering the mixture all the more alluring.
Scott A. Johnson
The Horror Channel
Something is wrong in the town of Terrel. Every year on the same two dates, someone dies. Either a native to the town or a stranger, the victims are all discovered at the base of Terrel’s Peak, dashed to death on the ocean-washed rocks below. Joe Kieran begins to investigate,and discovers more than he bargained for in this impressive novel, the winner of the 2004 Stoker Award for outstanding achievement in a first novel, Covenant by John Everson.
The story surrounds Kieran, a reporter for the local paper, who has recently relocated to the small town of Terrel after the newspaper business in Chicago became too much for him to bear. Amid the stories of refurbished buildings and who won the local quilting bee, Kieran discovers a mystery, which no one in the town will talk about. Though plagued with cryptic warnings and tight-lipped locals, Kieran perseveres until the mystery of Terrel’s Peak nearly consumes him as well. Kieran is a well written protagonist with genuine dialogue and a back-story that makes the reader sympathize with him. Supporting characters are equally well treated, with each having their own quirks and fallings.
Another strength of Everson’s debut novel is his attention to detail. Everson lovingly describes the town with such care that readers can see it in vivid colors, from the shanty sides of town to the craggy peak that claims its citizens, and can easily believe such a place as Terrel really exists. The story is compelling with moments that bring genuine shivers to readers. There are several places in which the reader can guess the outcome of actions and will find himself wanting to shout as if the characters could hear and warn them.
There are a few weak points to Covenant, which Everson’s writing quickly overcomes. For example, one character, who seems the epitome of the clichéd gypsy woman, is written with a heavy accent that may seem grating to the reader at first. However, when the character is called on her “fake accent” by another character, she drops it and becomes all the more endearing for it.
The ending of Covenant is exciting after the long simmer of the story and well worth the read. Without giving anything away, no one gets away from Terrel unscathed.
In total, Covenant is an impressive first novel, well written and deserving of the Stoker Award. If Everson’s work gets consistently better, his will be a name to remember in the coming years.
RATING: 4 ½ out of 5 Mugs O’ Blood
Covenant is spine-tingling and addictive. John Everson delivers a twisted treat that is loaded with suspense, a strong multifaceted plot and taut characters. His words and imagery give us a firsthand feel of what it’s like to reside in a small town, a place fueled by secrets and driven by fear.
Enter Joe Kiernan, a reporter for the small town of Terrel. After having worked at several fast-paced and prestigious jobs, he looks forward to the change of scenery and the quiet ways of a smaller scale way of life. Until the sad truth bites him in the ass. Stuck with low-level tasks and listening in on police radios for the latest miniscule town’s perils, he questions why he bothered. One evening things come to an abrupt change but not necessarily for the better. Joe reveals a news story that threatens to pull the rug right out from under the tight-lipped residents.
Terrel’s Cliff has become the official site of a coincidental string of suicides. Each year, on May 22nd, a child jumps to his or her death. The townspeople try to pretend otherwise but for five women – it’s an event that haunts their every waking moment. A pact, a twisted covenant is revealed, that was entered into over a hundred years ago as the only means of survival. But not survival for the children.
Joe digs into his own investigations, visits an eccentric seer, and tries to get to the bottom of what it is about Terrel’s Cliff that compels a child to end its life without so much as a warning. Why have the people accepted it as a normal way of life? The truth as it is revealed is terrifying and will keep you plowing through the pages. Hidden among the dirty secrets we learn of a demon with an agenda so powerful no one is safe. John Everson’s style is composed and direct. He gives us believable small town characters, complete with their own set of skeletons and superstitions.
Covenant will whisk you away into a deep embedded darkness where you are sure to wonder if you’ll ever get back out. I highly recommend this fast-paced solid read by an articulate author who has what it takes to give readers exactly what they want.
My Rating: 9/10
The small coastal town of Terrel seems to a safe and quiet place. That’s why reporter Joe Kieran chose it as his new home after fleeing from the consequences of his investigative reporting in Chicago. At first, it’s a bit too quiet, as Kieran finds himself bored by his assignments at community events and summer festivals. But when a teenager jumps to his death from Terrel Cliff, Kieran discovers a history of teen suicides that no one wants to talk about. His journalistic instincts reawaken and Kieran begins to delve into a story that could finally get him a Pulitzer. If he’s still alive to accept it.
Kieran’s efforts lead him to a group of five women who seem to have a tragic connection to the cliff. Four of them have lost children there and one of them wants to become very friendly with the reporter, which gives Kieran the opportunity to learn about a covenant the five women made many years ago. But was the covenant simply between the five? Or did it involve something else, something far older and malevolent, something that exists beneath the Terrel Cliff?
Everson has crafted what is, for the most part, a good old-fashioned horror novel. He sets the foundation firmly by taking his time introducing us to Joe Kieran and the community of Terrel. Like Stephen King, Everson uses the small town setting to great advantage by creating such a convincing picture of everyday small town life that when the horror comes — and it does come — it is all the more effective. Everson follows though, too, bringing Covenant to a satisfying ending.
A note to the squeamish: Covenant contains a couple of very graphic rape scenes that may prove unsettling to some.
After reading Vigilantes of Love earlier this year, I found myself eagerly awaiting Covenant; the debut novel from John Everson. John can tell a dark fairytale, rich in folklore, like a minstrel spinning a myth. I was not disappointed as I explored the pages of Covenant.
Covenant takes us into the secret heart of a sleepy little town and shows us its desperate darkness. Everson skillfully creates characters we can relate to. People pushed to the brink of despair by a being they can’t control. Their lives are no longer there own—kept prisoners in a dead end town.
Joe Kiernan is a reporter who fled from the corruption of his job in Chicago. Here, in Terrel, he hopes to make a better life for himself and forget his bitter past. But Joe is soon to find that even innocent coastal towns wear masks. The evil that lurks here is far more dangerous than an embezzlement scam.
Joe uncovers a strange string of suicides connected with the town’s tourist attraction, Terrel Cliff. His hungry reporter instincts start to kick in when people start getting edgy at the mention of the deaths. Joe sensing a hot story, and he is not letting go.
His digging wraps him in a nest of old sinister secrets, leaving him entangled by two women and an unspeakable, unwelcome truth.
Something of the Devil’s Own lives in that cliff, and with it, a story that stretches back over one hundred years. To a time of a dreadful, supernatural storm and a covenant made between Terrel’s old lighthouse keeper and a demon. One soul every year for the protection of the town.
But there are far more wicked secrets than this festering in Terrel. The demon has been busy making deals.
Covenant is a tight, fast story. I slid through this novel like a knife through warm, soft butter. Everson weaves such intricate, sympathetic characters—coupled with a clever interwoven plot that keeps you guessing and wanting more—you can’t help but fall through the pages of this book with ease.
Covenant gets 5 out of 5 from me. It’s a story worthy of a long cold winter’s night, read by a roaring fire.
At first, Joe Kieran “had assumed there was some kind of serial killer at work here, something that the Terrel cops just didn’t know how to handle, and didn’t want to talk about with a relative stranger.” But after plying his trade as an investigative journalist and doing some research, Joe realizes “this was not about serial killing”–that is, “unless the entire town was in on it.”
Could this be the fatalistic covenant of this novel’s title? Had Joe relocated to the sleepy town of Terrel only to uncover his own Village of the Damned , where the locals willingly aid and abet a murderous criminal? Or, as Joe fears, is it “something much more deadly than some guy with some rope and a thirst for hearing screams from flailing people” on their descent down the side of Terrel’s Cliff, a notorious spot that claims at least one life every year since the late 1800s. And every year the date is the same: October 31st, Halloween night.
“Terrel’s Cliff, Joe decided, was haunted” and nobody “knows what spirit dwells in that cliff.” Regardless of “whether it’s a lesser demon or the devil himself” that inhabits that ill-fated peak, all the townsfolk agree that it “is a deadly place where bad things happen.” It is Joe, the protagonist of our tale and an everyman representative of the reader, that is convinced he should uncover the truth and stop the deaths.
Presented in too straight-forward a fashion to be considered a mystery, the tale unfolds at a steady pace without distracting the reader with any sum of unnecessary tangents. By the end, all aspects are cleanly and tightly meshed together into one cohesive and intertwined whole. The climax is devoid of surprises, as all clues clearly indicate one solution, but the tale as a whole succeeds.
Covenant is not a mystery, attempting to force the reader into predicting a solution, but rather a ghost story with all the trappings. It is an exhibition of what can only be called a pleasing terror: derived from horror but not meant to truly inspire terror. Herein is a lengthy and modernized variation of the campfire story, dosing out goosebumps and smirks in equal quantities.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“Reviewers Book Watch,” January 2005
Worn out from his work as a journalist, Joe Kieran moves to the small town of Terrel, a “backward little town near the sea that didn’t actually get anything out of the nearby ocean but view.” Just the sort of place he was looking for, he thought; until he learned that “apparently even the view wasn’t safe to enjoy.” The centerpiece of the view is Terrel Cliff, where several of the quiet town’s teens have committed suicide. With his investigative experience, Kieran cannot help but dig into the mystery. What he uncovers in relation to the unexplained suicides, putting himself at risk, is a group of the town’s women under the spell of a local fortune-teller. In this tale of fantasy and suspense, Everson weaves intriguing psychodrama with existential fear and dread.
Excerpts from Reader Letters:
One of the few books I have read in the past year that I found worth the paper it was printed on.
John is a fantastic writer and this is a very satisfying read.
~ David R. Williams, Red Scream Magazine
What a great novel. I particularly enjoyed your pace . . . the way the horror builds to a terrific climax. Very few novels of late are achieving that steady rise in expectation, let alone satisfying it with a solid payoff. For a good two-thirds of the novel I felt like I was reading a tight, mysterious story akin to classic stories of guilt and redemption. And then you skillfully unravelled the old covenant(s) into a new one with enough sex, blood, and attitude to rival anything popular today. Bravo! In the end I felt like you’d melded old school horror with the new. Great stuff, seriously. I look forward to your future works.
~ Chris Hansen
I’ve only just gotten around to reading Covenant…but what i’m REALLY mailing for isto let you know how much i enjoyed it…
non-stop drama from beginning to end, the pace was just relentless… the setting was superbly detailed and described.. i could smell the sea air, it was great.
~ Stephen Mcdornell
“I absolutely loved this book! The whole book was great and the characters were very believable.
I look forward to your future books!”
~ Tim Feely
“I finished Covenant the other day, I really enjoyed it. The mixture at the
end of the erotic and the madness was tantalizing. It was a great read!”
~ Kathy Kubik
“I too think the story gelled beautifully and really liked the ending.
For a first novel, John has blown me away. His short stories rock too.”
~ Shocklines Message Board
“I’m not a huge fan of the supernatural (weird, I know for a horror fan) but was captivated by your evil. The hold over the town and the individuals was gripping (no pun intended)…CONGRATULATIONS. A really solid effort, and a guarantee of a purchase for your next one whatever it might be.”
~ Sean Terwilliger