A Plague of Pages – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

A Plague of Pages

John F. Leonard

I Love the writing, both the style and content, from John F. Leonard, I would even go as far as to say he is my favorite author now. I find his work fresh and inspiring; it’s always full of surprises. A Plague of Pages is no different; it’s a wonderfully creepy read.

“Ah, the perils of writing …it can bring out the worst in you.
Anthony’s world has fallen apart. The good times have gone, the things he treasures have been torn away. Life in tatters, he needs to press the reset button and begin again. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
He’s going to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Trouble is, some dreams turn into nightmares.”

Anthony Eames, a down on his luck writer with a bucket load of baggage. His marriage is over, thanks to his best friend having an affair with his wife for the entirety of their nuptials, and then the injustice of having to move into Hanfield Court, a ‘rat-trap’ block of apartments as he refers to it early on.  He ignores all the usual chaos of uprooting your life and moving home, and he leaves the boxes stacked and unpacked. Instead he decides to sit down at his much loved (hated by his ex-wife) Art-Deco table, and he begins to write, exchanging computer for paper, with his dearly departed father’s pen. Unbeknown to him, this is by far no ordinary pen.

This pen contains Scaethian ink.

The stories that Anthony write’s, in a somewhat fugue state, come to life, in an unnatural sense of the word. His prose of tragedy and plague, they occur, just has he has written. He doesn’t know why or how at first. He doesn’t even believe it to be true. It can’t be real, can it?

He tests it, his theory of the pen making the written word come to life, by writing a little short story involving his overly nosey neighbour and her return from the dead. He get’s the surprise of his life when he enters her apartment across the hall.

A Plague of Pages forms part of the Scaethian mythos and the Dead Box archives. It is a fantastic read, a short novella with an abundance of character and action. The plague of flies was an element to it I particularly enjoyed reading – I would love to see this as a stand-alone story (Can I write it John? Please). The premise of these unknown super flies swarming us, I relish this kind of thing being a sucker for a creature feature and all.

I feel of course that I have given enough spoilers away now, so I will keep quiet in that respect. I would hate to totally ruin the story for those yet too read this. I just can’t help myself though when it comes to talking about books, especially those which I adore. A Plague of Pages has earnt a well-deserved FIVE STARS from me.

The writing is, as always from John, engaging, clever and original. The characterisation has both depth and clarity, and the pacing of the story is very well planned and thought out. It’s a clever story with an excellent delivery. Anthony Eames is an intense character, a good guy turned bad by a life throwing him the proverbial lemons, not to mention the corruptive influence of the pen. His fate is sealed when he ingests the pens ink in a plot to escape justice. I don’t believe he was ever malicious enough to enjoy what he was doing, or indeed that he ever really had sinister intentions with regards to the pen. I feel like the character was in a bad place mentally and dealing with some tough personal issues, mixed with that, the allure of demonic energy was too much to for Antony to resist. I feel the overwhelming power of the pen had completely took over Anthony’s sense of self by the end.

I have previously read, to my pleasure, Bad Pennies and Doggem from John. F Leonard. Both part of the Dead Box archives and Scaethian mythos. I have a few more of these lined up to read too – thank you Kindle Unlimited for providing me with so much reading material. Since I am wholly enjoying this series of books, I am confident that I will love what’s to come. Roll on John’s next entry too, I look forward to reading it.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

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My top 5 reading in 2018

My first year as an official book blogger has been a great one. I am forever grateful to those who have supported me and helped me on my journey. It has been amazing, I have read some wonderful horror stories (and a few dodgy ones), and I am very excited for all of the reading to come in 2019, including my initial seven books in seven days self challenge.

Anyway, enough of me, my top 5 have to be, in no particular order:

Bad Pennies by John F. Leonard

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The first thing that really grabbed my attention with this book was Chris Carlisle. A guy, just trying to make it through life, struggling the same way we all do. Mundane job, living payday to payday, debating with himself over the now regular winter ‘heating or eating’ dilemma. This is a great story, a supernatural horror story encompassing not only the horrors of the supernatural world, but also the horrors of our own everyday existence. I felt his internal struggle, his guilt, and his overwhelming need. He needed the money, he knew he was wrong, but it was going to help him more than the dead guy wasn’t it? Or so he thought. I really loved the undertones about our general money worries, and the depths we can be driven to in desperation. For me personally, it felt like John F. Leonard was getting right into the nitty gritty of our materialistic society. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed.  Our ‘need’ as it were, for the things we don’t really need, take over our senses and cause us to do things completely out of character, ruining our lives and those of our loved ones. Those of us who are desperate enough can be completely blinded by obsession and greed. To me, this was a story examining just how far one is willing to go, and how much is one prepared to turn a blind eye to, just to get on in this mundane existence we have created for ourselves. 

A particular quote I loved “I might have no time for Fleecebook and Twitter-Tattle, Snapshat or Instawhatever, but it loves them like naughty sons. The more noise the better as long it keeps a few real truths quiet.”

I felt this partly summed it up, our materialistic obsession. We love sharing so much with friends via social media. We lose ourselves in the moment, rather than enjoying what is in front of us right now, we sacrifice it for a few likes and retweets. We are missing so much. I am as guilty as the rest for this. There is a pressure here too, the ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, the need to acquire things just to show we have them. We don’t like the idea of people knowing we are struggling, we don’t always ask for help when we should. It’s like this ‘shame’ has been bred into us. There is no shame in needing help. To me anyways, it felt like this was one of the points of the books. Speak to people, ask for help if you need it. Don’t leave it so the ‘help’ seeks you out. Evil is attracted to the most vulnerable among us.

My favourite character has to be Ronald Hodge. My god that guy is a creep. I felt like I needed a shower each time he was in a chapter. He is one horrendously bad man, in every possible way. I absolutely loved the development of his story. The way it just kept getting worse and worse (in a very good way), he is awful. Reading about Steph in his house gave me chills. It was so bad yet so good. I really don’t want to say too much on Ronald as I don’t want to totally ruin it for people. This is must read, for this character if nothing else.

Bad Pennies is brilliantly thought out and written, it flows so easily from one chapter to the next. The switch up in characters is obvious without being confusing. The fluidity of the story and realness of all the characters made this a truly horrifying pleasure to read.

I am very much excited to delve deeper into The Scaeth Mythos, it’s fascinating. The other realm, the manipulations of our reality and the descriptions of the, do I call them familiars? I’m not sure. King Ratty was a definite favourite. When he became spider-rat, oh god, I was itching all over. I hate spiders! I really can’t wait to read the next instalment.

The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

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***REVIEW PENDING VIA GNOH***

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

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Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should.  If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.

I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?

Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.

That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.

I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed.  It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.

The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner

The Mouth of the Dark

As a horror fan, and all round crazy fan-girl, it is always the stranger the better that I love. I love randomness, oddities, crazy, the unusual and the downright illogical. I relish the weird and the wonderful with a fiery passion, embracing it and all its wondrous madness. This book, this wonderful book, The Mouth of the Dark, is all of these things and more.

There is nothing I can say that could do this book or its author justice. Tim Waggoner, you are a literary genius. This is an extraordinary tale, a frightening, exciting, and thrilling ride from start to finish. The Mouth of the Dark has opened up a whole new world of wonder for me, I feel inspired by it, and I feel that it has cracked open a creative door within me that I don’t think can ever be closed.

We meet Jayce Lewis, a regular guy, a desperate father who is searching for his daughter, Emory. He knows something is wrong, he is deeply worried. He and Emory are not the closest anymore, not since the divorce, something he regrets deeply, but they keep in touch. She has gone missing from her home, in the Cannery. No one seems to believe him, that she is in danger, missing, abducted maybe; even her mother thinks everything is fine, and that she is just loved up and holed up with her current boyfriend and will get in touch eventually. Jayce knows, he can feel it, something isn’t right and he isn’t leaving until he finds her, he will do anything to find her, his little girl.

The Cannery has a questionable reputation; it is not the safest of places to live by any means. It wasn’t what he would have wanted for his Emory, but she is an adult now, she has to make her own way in the world, and he respects that. A lot of strange things happen within the Cannery, it’s a place for the unknown, the darkness, and the shadows. A different kind of life thrives here. While asking around about Emory, he meets Nicola, a curious woman who saves his life after he is attacked by some of the Cannery’s strangeness. She offers to help him find his daughter, it’s just a matter of can they trust each other, and can Jayce accept what he is about to find out. His whole life is about to change in ways he could never have imagined possible.  

The Shadow, a world of dark wonder where the impossible is real, everything you could imagine, and the things you would rather not, it’s all real, and it’s here. A world existing alongside our own, just out of sight for most people, ‘normal’ people. Jayce soon discovers he has ‘the eye’, he can see the things most can’t, he is a part of the shadow, he just didn’t remember he was.

The Mouth of the Dark is a truly fascinating read, it has everything. We have lunatic killers, sex toys with a life of their own, dog eaters, clones, gladiator style fighting, melting heads and even a pinch of romance. It has something for everyone, and it is all wrapped up in a perfect twisted bow.

Haunted: Horror of Haverford West by G. L. Davies

Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest

This terrified me, I couldn’t put it down. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is an interview with a married couple, Dai and Anne (names changed so as to not be identified), recounting the dreadful days spent in their marital home. They are haunted by a malevolent paranormal being, tormented and almost driven apart by the entity. This book is the prequel – which happens to be featured at the end of this one – to G. L. Davies’ ‘A Most Haunted House’.

I really liked the style, the transcript, it really pulled me in, and I was immediately engrossed, desperate to find out what happened next. I was hooked from the get-go. It was really interesting, as well as frightening, the idea that this could be going on in the house next door and you wouldn’t know it. You might put banging and clattering down to just noisy neighbours with no consideration, or maybe they are having a clean out… you would never think that they were being haunted, not in a million years. Or maybe we don’t want to think that? Is it better that we live our day to day lives in the blissful ignorance that there is nothing else out there, nothing lurking in the closet or under the bed? Are we happier this way?

I honestly can’t say I’m 100% sure this is based on truth or whether this is a story in a ‘true life’ format. I am most definitely open minded, and I’m more to leaning that this is based on real events. If so, oh my god, I can’t begin to imagine how horrendous and terrifying this must have been.

I’m glad the original book was included, I hadn’t read this previously and it was interesting to see the similarities between both accounts, from different people in different eras. I also found the possible explanations for paranormal occurrences an interesting and insightful read.

For someone like me, a believer, this is a great read. It’s had me on Google, looking up the area and the paranormal goings on. It seems Pembrokeshire is a paranormal hotspot.

I’m quite interested in this I must say.

The story of the Hooded Monk of Union Hill in Haverfordwest is something that has grabbed my attention, the ghost hunter in me has decided to take a trip down later in the year, see some sights, and maybe spot a ghost or two. Of course we are already concerned this will end up the next big ‘found-footage’ film, my fiancé joking the sequel will involve his mother and uncle heading out looking for us.


Thank you guys for sticking with me this year, and I am looking forward to a very exciting horror filled 2019!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, Lesley-Ann, The Housewife of Horror xxx

The House by the Cemetery – Book Review ****SPOILERS****

 The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery

John Everson

Flame Tree Press

4*

***SPOILERS***

 

“Some things should remain buried”

 

Synopsis: “Rumour has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumours won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumours down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumours is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfil. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.”

 

Thank you to Flame Tree Press for sending me an advance copy of The House by the Cemetery to review.

Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should.  If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.

I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?

Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.

That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.

I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed.  It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.

The House by the Cemetery, released 18th October 2018, is available for pre-order from Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Cemetery-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/1787580016/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537108789&sr=1-1&keywords=the+house+by+the+cemetery

 

4/5 – We all love a good haunted house story don’t we?

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Creature (2018) – ***Spoilers***

Creature

Hunter Shea

Publication date – September 6th 2018

Flame Tree Press

 

“Yep, better it was a figment of her imagination, a bit of spoiled gruel. If the shadow wanted to stay in the kitchen, let it”

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What can I say about ‘Creature’……

It’s never a good idea to go to a cabin in the woods now is it.

Amazing book! I was totally enthralled from the start, the characters, the setting, the relationships, and of course, the monster; all wonderfully knitted together in this fantastic book. This was a thrilling read from start to finish. Exciting, emotional, intriguing – The dream sequences especially.

I found myself very involved, I felt like I was there, part of the family. The relationship between Kate and Andrew, Kate with her illness, and Andrew taking care of her, it was really something. It brought up quite a lot of emotion within me, I really felt for them, really cared for them. They are such a beautiful couple.

Andrew wants to do something perfect for his wife Kate, so he surprises her by taking a leave of absence from work and whisking her away on a summer vacation in her ideal lakeside cottage in Maine, surrounded by beautiful woodland and the neighbours a good few miles away. They won’t be disturbed, not by the neighbours anyway.

I really loved that this book wasn’t so much about the horror, and more, a lot more about the characters, specifically Andrew and Kate. The daily struggles of balancing home and work life. Andrew, working a job he hates (we all know that struggle) so much to pay the bills and take care of his wife. And Kate, suffering with a debilitating autoimmune disease (Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos), struggling every second with her pain, not just physically, but emotionally. She has a constant battle with her inner demons as they manifest themselves into her reality.  It was the little things, the tenuous relationship with her mother, who favours her brother Ryker, as well as her close bond with Ryker and his wife Nikki. I loved the little nicknames they have for each other, Andrew referring to Kate as ‘Crip’ was adorable I thought.

I appreciated how deep into their personal lives we were taken, the anger Andrew feels at times towards Kate for being ill, and then at himself for feeling that way. It really hit home how difficult it must be living in a situation like that, how frustrating and crushing it must get. How helpless you must feel sometimes when all you want is for the person you love to be well and happy, and how terribly difficult it must be to see them suffer. And it goes without saying, how much of a waking nightmare at times it must be for the person suffering.

The part of the book I found most disturbing was not the monster and the carnage it created, but Nikki, Kate’s sister in law. For me, she was the most terrifying aspect; her change in personality was truly shocking. The nastiness and hate that came from within her when her husband was killed was horrific. What was even more frightening to me was how true this is, after such a traumatic experience, seeing her husband die in such a way, I could very much understand her anger and resentment of Kate.

I am very grateful I was given the opportunity to read this book prior to its release date. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

5/5 – I’d struggle to give it anything less

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

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