Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Edward Lee (Creekers, City Infernal, Triage) has obtained quite a bit of fame as an outstanding horror author whose specialty is pushing the envelope of what is acceptable in terms of sex and violence in a story. The first great manifestation of this was in the 1991 novel Coven, reviewed here in its incarnation in 2005 as reprinted by Necro Publications.

Exham College is one of those schools everyone hates. It is the destination college for rich guys who are too lazy, stupid, or delinquent to go anywhere else. The book’s “hero” (more or less) is Wade, a rich kid who has managed to avoid acquiring credits during his six years of college, and whose father has given the ultimate punishment: Not only will he have to attend summer school instead of partying with his friends, he will have to work in the school’s science lab – cleaning toilets. Wade doesn’t know it, but worse is in store for him.

It seems the school is about to be the site of a Harvest – where extraterrestials (it’s much more horror than sci-fi, though) are grabbing victims for breeding experiments. Wade and his shallow friends are in the crosshairs of this out-of-this-world plot, and if they don’t find a way to stop the aliens, they will face a lifetime of sex with ugly space creatures.

All of the elements that mark Lee’s writing are here – gore, violence, queasy sex, and a sense of humor that has been too absent in some of his recent work. For example, before females can mate with the various Bug-Eyed Monsters, their physiology must be altered to accommodate them, which means their bones must be dissolved, leaving them living sacks of gooey flesh. The character of Wade and some of his friends may be initially off-putting to some, as he is not a very sympathetic character, but to my surprise, he grows on you. Some of the antics may be too strong for those of refined tastes, but this is a great book. A lot of people I respect have told me it’s their favorite of Lee’s work, and now it’s mine, too.

My only two complaints have nothing to do with the content of the book. First of all the title, Coven, has little to do with the actual story. You think it does for a little while, but no. (Lee’s working title for the book was The Women In Black, which would have been better) Also the cover (seen here) is pretty bland. I had someone ask me if I was reading a supernatural romance when they saw me with it,

Lee has expressed an occasional interest in writing a sequel to Coven, and I hope he does so.

1 comment:

John Hornor said...

The title COVEN reminds me of American Movie.