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.
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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.
Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.
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Dark Short Story with Good Narration
That was a very dark, messed up, crazy book. I've never read anything by this author before so I had no idea what to expect. I guess this book was just a book to me, nothing spectacular but nothing terrible. It felt like the author was trying to write for shock value. And if that was the case he hit it out of the park. I think maybe it was too short, there was no time for details or for you to get invested in the characters at all. I would have enjoyed it more if I understood the characters better and had a little back ground on the wizard. Also, I was expecting graphic sex which I think would have also made this better. All in all it was written well and will probably stick with me for awhile as one of the darkest book I've ever listened to.
The narration was probably the best part of this experience for me. Joe Hempel did a great job and I would definitely listen to another book narrated by him. He has a great voice for narration and did a great job with changing his tone for each character and he didn't try to make his voice real high on the female voices or over dramatize the tense moments which is a big plus for me.