A Plague of Pages – John F. Leonard
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Recently I had the pleasure of reading a short story called Doggem that knocked my socks off. It was my second piece of fiction by John F. Leonard and I was simply blown away. It was sweet, it was shocking and it plucked all of the strings that I look for in fiction. Doggem easily became one of my favourite pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. It was my second piece I’d read from John, the first being Call Drops, and from the two, it was apparent that Mr. Leonard could tell a tale. I’ve since snagged his full length Bad Pennies and have it coming up in my TBR soon.
Once I saw John announce his next release, A Plague of Pages, I immediately pre-ordered it. I couldn’t wait to check it out. I jumped at the chance of reading a pre-release copy for review. John’s been an incredibly kind supporter of mine, so I wanted to help return the favour. I had little doubt that I’d enjoy this and after reading it, I was happy to see he delivered.
A Plague of Pages is a quick read, but it is one of those rare Novellas that creates a full formed main character and secondary characters. This story fits into John’s other works, but works exceedingly well on its own.
We follow our main character Andrew as he finds a pen, left to him from his long-deceased father. His life is in upheaval; wife’s left him for his childhood best friend, whom was also his business partner. Now forced out of his business he’s struggling to make heads or tails of what’s happened. He lives in an apartment complex, living near people that annoy him.
Then during one bad night he has a few too many and awakes to find he’s written a crude short story with THE pen. What he’s written has come true, bringing life-altering news. Thus starts Andrew’s downfall into a living experiment. IS what he’s writing coming true? How can he prove it?
As he keeps pushing his luck, an old figure from his parent’s life arrives, throwing what he’s known into further question. The story rolls along at a fever pace with plenty of shock and gore, which helps us see our main characters further spiral towards madness.
Leonard does a great job of keeping the tale planted in real life, introducing police into the equation and ensuring Andrew is feeling the stress of the repercussions of actions as well as the growing dread over what he has in his possession.
The ending does a great job of answering some of the questions, while leaving it open to a possible future follow up, which would be something I personally would love to see.
John F. Leonard has quickly worked his way into becoming an author I look forward to seeing new releases from and this entry won’t disappoint.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
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.
Beautiful wife, successful business, plenty of cash. He had the lot. Until he didn’t have very much at all. It’s taken a while, but Anthony has finally discovered life is full of bastards and betrayal. Weary and washed out, a change of direction is just what the doctor ordered.
He wants to be a horror writer.
Write, and in the writing, redefine himself.
And again, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. He’s about to discover real horrors. The like of which are beyond comprehension. He could well get lost in his own stories.
Because some stories aren’t right. They aren’t just make-believe ink marks on a page.
There are worse things in the world than a little double-dealing and deceit. There are things that defy description and beggar the mind. Things that sit outside the walls of reality and scratch at the mortar between the bricks.
Sometimes they find a crack and worm their way through.
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale. A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.