Written by: Matt Molgaard
Seedy sex clubs, whips, chains, floggers. NightWhere. John Everson’s latest trek into a world of utter blackness proves to be a deeply grim journey that provides a cruel commentary on society, all the while merging a supernatural presence that chills beyond the bone, freezing marrow. This is a story that really offers no happiness, whatsoever, as virtually every maneuver made by every key player in the story is a blind step into an unforgiving pitfall.
The story is really anchored in the complexities of human relations. But the reward of this tale stretches beyond the inner workings of man and woman, reaching right into the landscape of insanely graphic violence. I’ve never been into any form of sadomasochism – and I’m certain my stance won’t waver after reading this book – but, that’s the pleasantly vile (it may sound like a contradiction, but it’s about as accurate a label as I can find right now) part of this story. The violence exceeds sadistic by such a great margin it’s staggering, and I’m actually really ashamed to say this, but John paints a word based picture so flawlessly that I at times actually found myself slightly aroused by the torture that ensues within this secret club, where only the most extreme thrill seekers earn invitation.
Back to the issues between man, woman and marriage, I’ve got a bit to say here. I think the connection between our male “hero” Mark, and his free-spirited wife, Rae, is completely off base. Again, I can’t tap into personal experience, as my wife and I don’t share an open marriage, but I can say that even an open sexual relationship needs boundaries, and a mutual respect between both parties should exist. That’s not really the case here. Mark is, for lack of a better term, a complete pussy. He loves Rae deeply, and she seems to at times reciprocate, but he allowed her off an agreed leash early, and it’s ultimately his greatest downfall. If it’s open it’s open, if you enjoy being dominated, be dominated. If you don’t, you man up, and don’t proceed to make a series of outlandishly ignorant decisions when things go wrong.
See, as usual I won’t spill the deep details of the story. NightWhere involves a brutal club where sexual fantasies can be fulfilled, but it’s not always willing to relinquish its patrons. And, of course Mark and Rae find themselves tangled up in the mix. That’s a very loose interpretation of what comes, but that’s for you to find out. What is for me to handle, on the other hand is addressing the personalities of our characters. There are times when both Mark and Rae fit in well within the context of the story, but for the most part, it’s a constant clash.
Rae the coldhearted bitch who’s never even heard the word selfless. Mark the pathetic puppy willing to climb Everest buck naked for his precious wife, who at times, certainly seems to do anything but love him back. It makes for a very awkward combination of emotions, and ultimately diminishes a recurring drive that should offer major impact (that’s me being vague there). The action sequences are absolutely fascinating: morbid sexuality flourishing under a mist of crimson? Sounds engrossing to me. The problem is, it’s hard to care about who lives and dies. Rae conjures a feeling of constant disgust (I’m not a chauvinist pig but at times this piece of work made me absolutely hate women), and Mark manages to make manhood utterly embarrassing. If I was as blindly desperate as this guy, I would have succumbed to a fatal torture rack long ago, voluntarily.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this wild ride of over-the-top S&M. I wish I’d found the characters a bit more endearing, but there’s enough carnage lying within the pages to really pull a reader in. Plus, beyond all other strengths of the novel, this one is actually extremely informative. One round of NightWhere should teach anyone with a fully functional brain that open relationships are synonymous with disaster, and that those dark, sleazy looking sex clubs you spot from time to time may be far more dangerous than they seem. And I’m not talking sexually transmitted diseases, I’m talking a completely different world of pain.