Check out my latest review of John F Leonard’s amazing new story, Congeal, it’s live on Gingernuts now!
The Bledbrooke Works
John F. Leonard
A new story from the Scaeth Mythos, The Bledbrooke Works does not disappoint.
I love reading these stories, John F. Leonard has a talent for subtle horror yet disturbing all the same. The Bledbrooke Works I feel is one of the subtlest yet. I was engaged with the two characters from the onset. Donald Hobdike, a cranky older gentleman who resents youth, yet at the same time he resents getting old. He is tasked with wayward youth Michael Bassey, ‘Mikey B’, who is sent to Hobdike to work of his debt to society.
Hobdike takes Mikey down under Bledbrooke, into the sewage system to search for what could be a ‘fatberg’ – A fatberg is a congealed mass in a sewer system formed by the combination of non-biodegradable solid matter, such as wet wipes, and congealed grease or cooking fat. –Thank you Wikipedia for that definition. As they work their way through the darkness and stench of the towns waste Mikey begins to get nervous. He thinks he feels something touch him in the water. He sees shadows and movement. Things that cannot be real, that cannot exist. Hobdike tells him it’s just the darkness; being so far below the surface can have an effect on people – A plausible explanation. Mixed with being soaking wet after a tumble into the sewage, and too hot from the unnatural humidity down there, Mikey could almost accept that he was just being paranoid, almost.
The truth of the matter is far worse. It’s no fatberg at the end of the tunnel.
This book goes from ‘normal’ to creepy in one giant monster leap. The twist, the payoff, I have to admit I had no idea. The best way of course is when you are taken completely by surprise. The Bledbrooke Works reeled me in good. Hooking me from the start with believable characters, a musty old sewage works and some dark and smelly tunnels (and of course my favourite, a mention of rats).
It is such a simple yet effective setting, old factories and ageing buildings are ready-made for horror stories. They have unlimited potential, as John shows in his writing, with an atmosphere of suspense and horror built into them from their creation.
The sights, sounds and smells were all but palpable. John really has a knack for descriptiveness. You can almost envision yourself there, walking though the ripe narrow passages behind Hobdike and Mikey, as well as suffering the claustrophobia and paranoia that Mikey feels.
I felt there were undertones of the harsh realities of ageing within the story. Hobdike, not the young whippersnapper he used to be, being somewhat resentful of Mikey’s youth. He recognises himself in Mikey, something I feel we all do as we get older, we see the younger generation making the same mistakes as we did, yet we still hold contempt and criticise in what becomes an infinite loop. He isn’t ready to grow old and retire. He doesn’t want to die. Who does of course? But some things are meant to be. The symmetry between young Mikey and old Hobdike at the end I feel validated my thoughts on this with a somewhat ‘passing the torch’ moment.
“Michael Bassey, a blundering boy, crippled by circumstance. Packed with potential and denied opportunity. A horrible reality for the vast majority of the underprivileged in the modern era. This vicious circle that kept the underclass confined to poverty. Wedged and forever stuck at the bottom of the pile.”
The Bledbrooke Works is yet another fantastic story from The Scaeth Mythos. John F. Leonard just keeps coming back with all things subtle and scary; I swear they get better and better.
Check out my review of an amazing true life account of the works of Joseph Lister. It’s live on Gingernuts of Horror now!
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.
Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister
with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things
that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves
in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with
a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse
full of hanging bodies.
Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world?
Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities.”
This was a fun and interesting read, delving into the mind of a horror enthusiast, the Sinister Minister himself, Peter Laws.
I have always been interested in the scary, the dark and twisted, the gothic, and the gruesome. I have always been ridiculed for it too. You know, I’m sure a lot of us have heard the same… “It’s a phase” “she will grow out of it” “why can’t you like nice things?” “You won’t meet anyone looking like that” “what’s wrong with you watching those kinds of films?” …the usual. I must admit I have gone to the ‘dark side’ with my outfits and bit since I started my current day job (legal cashier) and wear pretty dresses and the likes. I got many a surprised look that day from people who know me.
Anyways, moving on from my ramblings, the book, The Frighteners, it’s a fun read. It’s very much a memoir of Peter Laws’ life with the horror genre, mixed with a lot of researched facts relating to the macabre and the morbid.
It’s very well written, well laid out and a hoot to read. He has a great sense of humour I found and he knows how to spin a tale.
The book opens with his recounting of his bucket list birthday trip to Transylvania (what a treat). The excited recanting of the trip and meeting like minding people was a pleasure to read. You can tell straight away that Peter Laws is truly passionate about his love affair with the genre, it radiates so brightly through his writing.
There is a great deal of information within The Frighteners. The author has had many an experience, with death, zombies, werewolves, crypts and the likes. He gives us a wonderful descriptive read of all his encounters, and a very informed insight into the genre of the weird, the wonderful and the macabre.
I really don’t want to delve too much into the content as I feel I would spoil the read for you folks somewhat. I really recommend checking this book out though, it’s a wonderful read and a great glimpse into the mindset of the horror fan.
Seriously… you won’t be sorry. Find it here on Amazon:
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)