Reviews of Vigilantes of Love

“Quite simply, they are among the most enjoyable short stories that I have read in the past few years… I thought their approach subtle, but still, they managed to pack one heck of a punch.”

“As a reviewer, when I review books of short stories I give each story a rating then I average them together for the final score. None of the stories in this collection were below 3 stars. Some of the stories were whimsical and some were horrifying but all were good. Another winner from the mind of John Everson! A solid 4 star read.”
~Horror Maiden’s Book Reviews

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FeoAmante - Storytime

Scott A. Johnson
The Horror Channel
Dread Central

November 2005

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Mugs O’ Blood

FeoAmante - StorytimeJimmy Z
Summer 2003

John Everson has a flair for starting a story down one path and then just when we know where it is going and how it will end, he turns it around and reminds us that life is unpredictable. Vigilantes of Love is a collection of fifteen well written stories that range from fantasy to horror. Some are hardcore horror stories and some are lighter fare. All of them are worth reading.

“Trick and Treat” is a Halloween story, but with a title like that what else could it be. Well, it could be about a hooker. It’s both. A man who dislikes being alone on holidays so much that he decides to satisfy himself with a prostitute. An early story in the book that whets the appetite for some of the horrors to be discovered within.

You never know when love may come crashing into your life. Occasionally it even happens when you are already married. We all have choices to make. Some choices are harder than others and sometimes the choices are made for you. In “After the Fifth Step” we are treated to an exploration of love and marriage within a traveling circus.

“Lovesong” is the story of music and a young man with a crush. He frequents a local record store mostly for the attention of Lissa, a worker in the store. From his time spent in the store he discovers more than just the great musicians of the 80’s.

In “Vigilantes of Love” we are treated to a New Orleans style Voodoo mystery. This was a wonderful tale of adultery and the undead. A story which might easily be expanded into a longer work.

I don’t kill, I preserve.

After that opening line we are off on a chilling story of a taxidermist in “Preserve.” Arthur has taken the art of taxidermy to new heights. And to new subjects as well.

It is hard to pick a favorite tale from these stories because I enjoyed them all. Whenever I thought that a particular story was my favorite I would be drawn to another title and then another. Each one vying for the top spot.

One of the better collections I have read in some time.

Rating: I give it 5 bookwyrms.


Reader Letters:

Since its release, I’ve gotten lots of letters from people who have read the stories from my 2nd short fiction collection, Vigilantes of Love. Here are a few:

I have sat here, and read every word… I totally love your work.
Had me sitting there, glued ‘til I finished each story. You are awesome…
~ Renee Bowes
Burlington, NC

I finished reading Vigilantes of Love and thought it was outstanding. Every time I thought a story was about to get sort of lovey-dovey, someone would get eaten or something. I love it. Yet you also maintain a certain tenderness in other stories and even throughout some of the more “horrific” ones that I thought is nicely juxtaposed (did I just say juxtaposed?) with the wildness and shock content. I gotta tackle Covenant next…
~ David Peterson
Colorado Springs, CO

Well, tonight I finally picked up Vigilantes of Love and finished it in one quick read… and…it’s f–king great.

The opening story, “Calling of the Moon” grabbed me by the heartstrings and didn’t let go. It was a great story of love and redemption, not at all the horror I was expecting. It’s a pity the old Twilight Zone magazine is no longer with us: this would have been a perfect fit for that august publication. With “Hard Heart” and “A Lack of Signs” you kept right on pulling out all the emotional stops. This is good, solid modern fantasy, with a sweet soft center and just enough darkness to spice things up.

“Seven Deadly Seeds” worked a bit better than “Frost” or “Christmas the Hard Way,” I thought. It’s tough to do Xmas tales without becoming a wee bit maudlin, although “… Hard Way” was definitely an unusual take on the legend and “Frost” had its moments. “Seven Deadly Seeds” was a modern-day Brothers Grimm, though: one of the standout pieces in this collection. And if your other stories hearkened to Twilight Zone, “Trick and Treat” and “After the Fifth Step” evoked Serling’s Night Gallery. (I can see “After the Fifth Step” made into an E.C. Comics story…).

You’ve mastered one thing which many horror writers never do: the art of creating sympathetic characters who behave realistically in unrealistic situations. Like Ray Bradbury, you aren’t afraid to be sentimental when the occasion calls for it; this is good stuff. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some of your novel-length work.
~ Kevin Filan

“Calling of the Moon” is a beautiful story. Really. I can’t think of too many stories I could call beautiful — but one of them is yours. “After the Fifth Step” and “The Right Instrument” would have made great “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (the original series) episodes. I thought I kind of knew where both were going, but you still managed to surprise me. You’ve made me want to read more.
~ David R. Williams
Publisher & Editor, Red Scream Magazine
Buffalo, NY

I read some of your work and I think it’s great. Some of it is pretty twisted, and that’s a real compliment coming from me. I love that dark and twisted stuff. You’ve really got a lot of talent…I really mean it.
~ Stacey Price
Hickory, NC

I liked your stories very much. The one with the piano [“The Right Instrument”] made me giggle — like some of Robert Bloch’s blackish humorous short stories or the ones of Jean Ray… “Calling of the Moon” offers a very romantic fascination; one can’t say if it is either a curse or a grace. These stories are great!
~ Cyrill
Dublin, Ireland

All’s I can say is WOW! I am so impressed with your work!
I continued to read and found some even darker & more delicious works!
~ Kathy Trevorrow

You are a very talented writer with a flair for fiction. I plan on adding your books to my library shortly.
~ Rayne
Montpelier VT

Vigilantes of Love is amazing. You actually spooked me! I’m a big Stephen King fan, so that is a big compliment coming from me. I had a few nightmares, and one night actually woke up in a sweat! So kudos to you, you are a true master of horror. I especially enjoyed “After the Fifth Step”. What a horrifying journey through hell that was! Also “Preserve” was a ghoulish one, (that one spurred the nightsweats), and “Hard Heart” was lovely with the symbolism and quite romantic. It reminded me of the recent Tori Amos video for “This Sort Of Fairytale”, where the man and woman are only body parts, but once they meet they unite and blend, and become one person.

Every story in this collection is distinguished by your ability to make the characters come alive; the vividness of each character adds to the horror that they encounter. And each story in Vigilantes of Love reads seamlessly, and before you know it, you’re trapped in the web of horror. An essential book any reader of horror should have on their shelf.
~ Kathy Kubik
author of Songs in Red
Westmont, IL

The stories were remarkable. What a range you have. “Calling” is my favorite, but I loved the dawning horror of that tightrope walker in “After the Fifth Step” as he realized just what jealousy could do. And it hurt to travel that rope with him. I wanted more about his mother, the three-breasted one. And “Vigilantes” — what a premise. The curse felt so authentic, from its origins to its inexorable spread. Lord, what a powerful premise. How many of us would ever be spared? That piece is a toe-curling bit of morality play, isn’t it? You deliver the goods. Great characters, again. Your Ribaud wants to star in a novel, John. Let him! I’d love to find out more about him, in a world where the curse was kept at bay long enough to play out more ordinary dramas. I want more.
~ Nancy B
Las Vegas, NV

Absolutely Awesome! I loved it. I would love to see your name on the bestsellers list some day.I hope you can reach a bigger mainstream audience. They should make a movie compilation of your stories along the lines of the “Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits — that’s what theyremind me of mostly, those great shows that I grew up watching.
~ Brandy
San Antonio, TX

I finished reading Vigilantes of Love. It was awesome. The story about the circus was my favorite.
~ Lora Kristin Marcoux
Nova Scotia, Canada

You are a phenomenal talent! I can’t believe I haven’t read you somewhere – rest assured that is about to change. The feelings expressed in “Calling of the Moon” are genuine and touching. And “Vigilantes of Love” was my favorite of them all. Having vacationed in New Orleans, you certainly brought out the mystique and ribaldry that goes on there! I so enjoyed reading your short stories and hope to read more in the future.
~ Deanka Grisham
Atlanta, GA

I’m reading your stories a little at a time and really enjoy the way you string words together. The tightrope story was a masterpiece of suspense. Tragic, shitty, (the result, not the writing) and touching. Very nice. Evil bitch. Love sucks.
~ Chris Damitio

I love your style — very much into how the characters feel. I also like the fact that the vigilantes in “Vigilantes of Love” were almost like a force, rather than beings. You have that nice creepy twist that they used in the ‘50s.
~ George “Mantis” Brummer
Mesa, AZ

I just got done reading “Calling of the Moon”…my gosh, it was beautiful; so heart-wrenching! I’m still crying. Thank you for sharing it with me. Very effective. Very powerful. I think this story is going to affect me for awhile…
~ Michelle Peery
Klamath Falls, OR

In some of the shorts I couldn’t help but almost feel like I was seeing an old “Tales From the Darkside” episode. (Not a bad thing in my opinion – I used to really dig that stuff). You are now on my booklist! I look forward to seeing more of your stuff.
~ Geyna Key
author of Riding the Spirits
Satsuma, FL

I just wanted to let you know how much I truly enjoyed Vigilantes of Love. I found that every story held my attention and kept me truly enthralled to the very end. The broad spectrum that the book covered was truly amazing. I am looking forward to reading more of your work. Thanks for the great read!
~ Christina Johnson
Lebanon, OR

They are truly wonderful. Your writing style has this nice flow to it, and unlike other darker writers who seem to write just for shock factor, your stories have this underlying level of human emotion. It makes the stories more enjoyable.
~ Tami Brown
Charleston, SC

“Calling of the Moon” was riveting, as were all of the stories, you have earned a fan! Thank you for being such a great author.
~ Jim Davenport
Selma, AL

“I loved the stories! “Calling of the Moon” was my favorite, and the cover is stunning.”
~ Elizabeth Blue,
author of Drown in Fear
Richmond, VA

You seem to be able to create an atmosphere of encroaching menace very well, while maintaining the erotic tension at the same time. It’s good stuff!”
~ Michael Russell
Edinburgh, Scotland

“Wow! 🙂 I think you’re a spectacular author! Such intensity…Volumes you shall write…volumes!”
~ Ashley Martinez

I read it. Twice, actually. You have such a gift for the written word! I hope you keep writing and letting me read some of it!
~ Doris Pruitt
Atlanta, GA

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