Review: Failure by John Everson (Audiobook)

failure-eversonAbout Failure

Raymond is such a failure, he can't even kill himself and get it right. Cindy just plain doesn't care; she'll get on her knees for anyone beneath the football field bleachers to score a nickel bag hit. And Sal is a frustrated goon with a hook nose and an attitude so sour he can't nail a girl, even with the lure of free dope and a getaway car.

When these three desperate teens meet Aaron, a failed practitioner of the dark arts, who offers them the best high they've ever smoked in exchange for kinky sex play, things only go from bad to worse. Aaron hopes to ensnare and re-birth the spirit of a late witch to capture her power from beyond the grave for his own.

Soon, they'll all learn the darkest, bloodiest, most terrifying definition of failure.

About the Author

John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of eight novels of erotic horror and the macabre, including his latest, the Fountain of Youth thriller THE FAMILY TREE, as well as the Bram Stoker Award-nominated tour de force NIGHTWHERE, the Bram Stoker Award-winner COVENANT, its sequel SACRIFICE and the standalone novels THE 13TH, SIREN, THE PUMPKIN MAN, VIOLET EYES.

John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies, Alan Clark illustrations and a large stuffed Eeyore. There's also a mounted Chinese fowling spider named Stoker, an ever-growing shelf of custom mix CDs and an acoustic guitar that he can't really play but that his son likes to hear him beat on anyway. Sometimes his wife is surprised to find him shuffling through more public areas of the house, but it's usually only to brew another cup of coffee. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he occasionally records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs book covers for a variety of small presses, loses hours in expanding an array of gardens and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of '70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a tall glass of Newcastle.

Learn more about John on his site,, where you can sign up for a direct-from-the-author monthly e-newsletter with information on new books, contests and occasionally, free fiction.

Want to connect? Follow John on Twitter @johneverson, or find him on Facebook at

My Thoughts

[This review was originally published at AudioBook Reviewer,]

John Everson’s Failure is an intriguing mash-up of horror, kink, and magic, but one that ultimately fell a little bit flat. If you’ve read the description for this title, then you know what you’re getting into. Sadly, there’s little else beyond the synopsis to capture in terms of depth or plot.

Now, that said, this one is a quick and breezy listen, clocking in just shy of 90 minutes and there are many, many worse things to while away a few car-rides between work and home. Once the story gets all revved up and gunning for the climax, I found myself enjoying the story quite a bit more.

The gist of Failure is stupid teens making one very large bad choice all in the name of good drugs and sex, not quite believing or realizing they’re being lulled into a much darker ritual of ancient magic. By the time they realize how wrong things have gone, it’s six months later and Aaron, the old mage who duped them, is out for blood in order to finish his ritual.

And that’s when all kinds of stuff and things, most of it fleshy and bloody, hit both the proverbial and literal ceiling. Gore hounds should be quite happy with the story’s second-half, where the gruesomeness is the main order of business, alongside some detours flashing back to the sexual shenanigans our three teenage characters engage in under Aaron’s prodding. Things turn awfully vicious pretty quickly, and the proceedings hit a high-note for me when Everson drops the descriptive, vulgar phrase “womb syrup” during a particular mauling.

While Everson’s story, overall, didn’t quite suit my particular tastes, the narration by Joe Hempel was solid and professional, and the audio quality was clear. Hempel was pretty consistent in his mild reading of Everson’s words, but I think I would have liked a little more oomph and emoting, particularly when the story takes a turn toward the nastier side of things. It’s not much of a complaint, but the narration struck me as a little too placid.

All in all, Failure wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, and I would have liked Everson to expand on his characters and give them more depth. I didn’t feel much in the way of sympathy for any of them, with the trio of teens coming across as shallow and a bit single-minded in their highly-questionable motives. The latter half of the book manages to coalesce into some nicely wrought and descriptive horror, though, the finale is sufficiently bloody.

If nothing else, Failure, originally published in print back in 2006, has at least got me curious enough to check out this author’s more recent work to see how he’s refined his style and grown as an author.

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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