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Released in 1994, "Everville" is Clive Barker's sequel to his 1989 book, The Great and Secret Show. The stories are horror novels that take place in an urban fantasy setting, meaning a world much like our own, only with hidden magic. Everville, specifically, takes place in the seemingly normal town of Everville, Oregon, located in the eastern Willamette Valley.

My reading of Everville was influenced by my reading of The Great and Secret Show, which was influenced by my general opinions of Clive Barker gained through osmosis. I had previously only known of Clive Barker as the creator of Pinhead. I thought of him as a slightly more hip version of Stephen King. I was happily surprised when I read The Great and Secret Show to find a book that was more than just a horror novel, but a sympathetic and textured book, that mixed the right amounts of "real life" with well done horror tropes.

Which should have meant that Everville would be just as interesting and fulfilling. Even more so, since it had a personal connection with me, since the (fictional) town of Everville would be located a dozen or so miles from where I grew up. The town of Everville, seemingly a quiet, placid town, was actually founded as a pawn in some long running and intricate games that magicians and immortals were playing amongst themselves, and the book follows about a half-dozen characters as they are sucked into the vortex of war, both on earth and in other realms.

All of which should be spectacular, but this book, while well constructed, managed to violate one of the prime rules of horror and fantasy. The first book started out in the "real world", and only slowly gave us glimpses of the frightening and fantastic world outside of it. However, "Everville", for the most part, starts in a world where the fantastic and horrific is already established, and therefore, the appearance of what is fantastic and horrific has no area of mystery about it, and instead becomes an almost prosaic tale of yet another supernatural invasion. Several characters and events that were hinted at in the first book are explained and described in this book, and this just detracts from them, because once again, explaining too much ruins the spell.

Not to say that the book is dull or uninteresting. It is still a fun enough book to read, and it is well constructed. However, the aura of the supernatural, which is a fragile thing to maintain, dissipates, and the book loses the magic that a fantasy book can, and should, have.

Horrorquest 2011

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