DEADLY NIGHTLUSTS by John Everson (2010 Blasphemous Books / 125 pp. / tp)
This collection showcases six short stories from Everson's early days as a writer, as well as a new one.
There's a few Halloween-themed stories here, the first, PUMPKIN HEAD, being the only one I had previously read (and it's a good 'un). GREEN APPLES, RED NAILS is one of two stories to feature a witch, and gives a nice variation on the old "poison apple" Halloween urban legend, while TO EARN HIS LOVE reads like a pre-cursor to the author's grim 2006 occult novella, FAILURE.
A LACK OF SIGNS brings Stephen King's NEEDFUL THINGS to mind, while STAR ON THE BEACH is one of two stories dealing necrophilia (this could be a contender at a gross-out contest) as a vacationing man cheats on his wife with a beautiful corpse thanks to the guidance of a strange young Cuban boy. SACRIFICING VIRGINS tells the tale of a rock star who, after making a deal with the devil, is given fame and fortune so long as he has sex with a virgin after each of his band's concerts. Things get hairy when a deceased virgin shows up on the bed in his dressing room one night--and he's still held to his ungodly commitment.
The collection ends with BODY AND BLOOD, a wicked little tale of religion gone amuck after the body of an ancient, controversial saint goes on display at a neighborhood church. Well written, disturbing, and reminiscent of classic Bentley Little, this is easily the highlight of NIGHTLUSTS.
I've compared Everson here to King and Little, and not done so lightly. This peek at some of his early work shows a writer chiseling his way through the horror fiction underground to become the acclaimed novelist (and short story writer) he is today. Check it out.