by John Everson
Review by Matthew Baker
I have a fondness for horror pertaining to insects that probably stems from my rural Southern upbringing. My childhood home sat on the edge of a large wooded area, so my little brother and I spent countless hours traipsing through the brush and trees. As a result, we found a wide variety of bugs and spiders, some of which looked absolutely terrifying. I’m sure you can see where, as a kid, a little imagination could take you to some wild places from here.
It is this childhood love of spiders and all-things-crawly that kindles a spark within me for John Everson’s latest book, VIOLET EYES. This tale is a bone-chilling venture into primal terror with a horrifying premise that touches every one of us at some basic level. Everson is a true master of horror literature, and this book will have your skin crawling as you read it. If you don’t squirm at some of the grisly scenes in this book, then you are more than likely not human!
If you are not familiar with VIOLET EYES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:
Their bites are more than deadly…
The small town near the Everglades was supposed to offer Rachel and her son a fresh start. Instead it offered the start of a nightmare, when an unknown breed of flies migrated through the area, leaving painful bites in their wake. The media warned people to stay inside until the swarm passed. But the flies didn’t leave. And then the radios and TVs went silent.
That’s when the spiders came. Spiders that could spin a deadly web large enough to engulf an entire house overnight. Spiders that left stripped bones behind as they multiplied. Spiders that, like the flies, sought hungrily for tender flesh… through Violet Eyes.
I absolutely loved this book and am proud to boast that it has moved into my Top 5 Horror Novels of 2013. Everson has created something here that every horror novelists strive for but few achieve: a believable but literally horrific situation that will give you plenty of reasons to lose sleep at night.
VIOLET EYES is well written and flows nicely at a brisk pace. The characters are nicely developed and believable; all are damaged in some way but still give us plenty of reasons to connect with them. I particularly like how Everson subtly tackles the issue of domestic abuse. It is interesting to see a horror writer incorporate such a brutal topic into the story, but make it a minor aspect of it instead of the focal point.
Probably the most pivotal characteristic of this book for me is that it is intelligent horror. This is not just some half-speed ‘nature-gone-amok’ plotline; this is carefully thought-out and well-conceived science that works much better than its creators had intended. Too good, in fact…which is part of what makes this concept so scary.
VIOLET EYES is a huge win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good scare or wanting a reason to stay awake at night. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped or slapped at the comforter because it felt like something was crawling on me. This book will scare the crap out of you and keep you begging for more! Give this one a look for sure.