It’s hard to even know where to begin while talking about Sacrificing Virgins by John Everson. I could easily write 500 words analyzing each of the 25 stories here, but the best way to experience this book is by reading it. One thing that I will say though is that this book is a template for what great horror stories should be. Sacrificing Virgins has moments that are shocking, violent and downright disgusting. These are all things that horror fans want but for me what makes a great horror story is characters that you care about and can relate to. Then you have to put them in a bad situation where it looks like they can’t escape.
For example in the story Bad Day we hear of strange exotic flying roaches that are latching on to people and causing them to go into a coma. After a short period the people awaken as zombies. We then get to know a family from the father’s point of view. We know he loves his wife and young daughter, but he feels that maybe he was to old to start a family and he feels bad for his wife. As he gets to go off to work every day and escape fatherhood for a while and be around adults, his wife is at home with only their daughter to talk to. Hearing this information, you care about this family and the idea that they’re facing the apocalypse is horrifying. This story isn’t as violent as some of the others in this anthology but it is one of the scariest because you see this family that you grow to like facing the end of humanity. This is true horror.
The next example of a perfect horror story and my favorite one in this book is Camille Smiled. This story is told in a different way then the previous one, in the beginning you’re not sure what’s happening but as the tale moves along the blanks are filled in and you get into every parents worst nightmare. Camille was killed in a car accident at 8 years old and her grief-stricken father uses voodoo to bring her back from the dead. The problem is that she didn’t come back the same. This story is a masterpiece and the best parts of it are so subtle. In one scene the father is talking about how much he misses his daughter and even with the state of decay she is in, he doesn’t care, he just wants her back. Then you have the mother who shows how angry she is at her husband before he succeeds at bringing their daughter back from the dead, yet she never leaves him or turn him in for grave robbing. Then we have the description of Camille staring emotionless at her father and the father realizing that his daughter is dangerous. This is a love story that literally sent chills down my spine.
Another story I really liked here was Voyeur. I loved the originality here, it has to do with a man who went from being a voyeur to a murderer but little does he know he is being studied by something out of this world. This book also has a story about bondage and sexual torture called Field Of Flesh, which is tied into John Everson’s novel NightWhere. This one has some disturbing imagery that I liked but the best part of it was the end when we find out how the room the protagonist is in works. Every story in this book is a lesson on how great horror literature can be and it’s a can’t miss book for real horror fans.