The Dead Boxes Archive: John F. Leonard
Reviewed By Steve Stred
One of the biggest joys of working with Kendall Reviews and the amazing team there, is discovering new authors. If you’ve followed my reviewing ‘trends’ I frequently enjoy reading books and trying to highlight the authors I love that seem to sometimes be overlooked. This is no negative towards them and their work or a backhanded compliment. No, it’s a sad reality of releasing work when so many amazing works arrive each and every week.
Throughout this 3+ year journey now with Kendall Reviews and over 300 books read and reviewed for the site, one author that I discovered and now devour through being on the review team is John F. Leonard.
My first go-around with his work was ‘Call Drops‘ a free story I picked up for the Kindle. From there, I’ve read all of his novellas that have come along, but shamefully still have not read ‘Bad Pennies‘ the novel that shaped his Scaeth Mythos. That will be rectified before years end, as I plan on starting it this week.
What I liked: I’m not going to go full into detail about each of the novellas I’ve already read and reviewed here (I’m hoping Gavin will link to those in the post) but needless to say Doggum, Congeal, The Bledbrooke Works, Burntbridge Boys, Night Service and A Plague of Pages are all fantastic reads that not only introduce new and exciting elements of his ongoing Mythos, but that also bring us familiar characters, which at the heart of his writing is Leonard’s bread and butter. While the paranormal/portal features that he brings to each piece is exciting and intriguing, it’s the ease and class that he writes each setting and every character. The first time you open up one of his books, you step into a writer’s voice that is confident and fully commands this universe. Much like King with Castle Rock (and recently Baxter with Gulpepper) Leonard knows every corner, every street and every resident as though he grew up there and lives with them.
Featured in this collection are two ‘new’ pieces. The first is the novella ‘Linger‘ which was previously only available in a charity anthology. ‘Linger‘ was one of the best stories featured in that anthology and it really works well as a stand-alone story or as part of the ongoing universe. This story follows a man who has inherited his estranged father’s mansion after he passes. It doesn’t take long before things go sideways and Leonard, of course, makes you pause and realize how creeped out you were when reading it. Loved the ending and can’t wait to see where this leads.
The second new piece is ‘The Screaming Mike Hawkins Story.’ This was once featured on his blog but has since been erased. Truthfully, I can’t tell you if this is fiction or nonfiction it is so well done. Telling the tale of a lead singer of a band that came close but ultimately never broke big, I scoured the internet to see if Mike Hawkins existed and couldn’t find anything. While I’m certain this piece is fiction, Leonard does such a fantastic job of writing this as though it was featured in Rolling Stone or a similar music magazine, that it reads as an unauthorized autobiography. Truly fantastic work.
What I didn’t like: I would say the only thing here that was missing for me was maybe an additional essay or a what’s to come feature. John does close out with a really nice afterword, but as someone who absolutely loves these stories, I wanted more!
Why you should buy this: Each and every one of these stories deserves to be read. Truly amazing work by one of my favorite authors, but by John stacking them together, there really isn’t any excuse out there that I’ll buy as to why you haven’t read John’s work yet. The stories hop, they truly are riveting and the world he has created is a stunning mix of everyday people and things that creep in the dark.
Now, I need to get going on Bad Pennies.
The Dead Boxes Archive
The Dead Boxes Archive is a chilling collection of short horror stories and horror novellas. Together for the first time in one volume, seven tales from the critically acclaimed Dead Boxes series.
Dead Boxes are scary things. Wonderful and dreadful secrets hiding themselves in plain view.
On the surface, they often appear to be ordinary, everyday objects. Items which are easily overlooked at first glance. Perhaps that’s just as well because the Dead Boxes are as far from ordinary and everyday as you can get. They hold miracle and mystery, horror and salvation, answers to questions best not asked and directions to places better left unfound.
This collection offers an insight into some of these delightfully eerie articles. A stunning omnibus of old school inspired horror, the brooding and ominous variety. Not to say that there isn’t a little gore and gruesome in the mix. But one of the beauties of horror is that it comes in many forms. Blood and guts don’t need to be stars of the show for a story to be dark and disturbing. Something that will stay with you long after the reading is done.
There are five tales that are available to buy as individual books and two more with limited availability. The exceptional Linger is previously only published in the charity horror anthology, Diabolica Britannica. The Screaming Mike Hawkins Story is new for this collection.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here