Tome: Ross Jeffery
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I discovered Ross Jeffery’s work last year when I was kindly asked to provide a foreword for the anthology ‘Lost Voices.’ Ross had several stories in it, alongside many other talented writers and I was blown away with what he’d written.
Afterwards, he reached out and asked if I’d like to check out his upcoming release, ‘Juniper.’ At the time, I was a bit hesitant, as I was burned out on post-apocalyptic stories, but agreed. Thank goodness I did, as ‘Juniper‘ was outstanding. When it was announced as part of a trilogy, I was even more excited.
KR: You can read the Juniper Kendall Review HERE
What I liked: How’s this for hilarity? I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy ‘Juniper‘ because I was burned out on post-apocalyptic books, and then ‘Tome‘ comes along. I have never been a fan of correctional facility books, I don’t enjoy movies or TV shows set purely in a prison/jail setting. I’m not sure why it just doesn’t click for me. And lo and behold ‘Tome‘ is set at the Juniper Correctional Facility!
The story follows a selection of inmates as well as a few guards and the warden as they deal with a rising number of deaths deemed ‘suicides’ to keep the investigators away. But it isn’t enough and when the investigators show up to see just what is going on, things really take a turn.
I really enjoyed seeing the way these characters interacted based on their prison hierarchy and I really enjoyed seeing our old, despicable friend Klein from book one show his ugly face.
There are a number of scenes in here that are both startling and deplorable and that’s a testament to the talent Jeffery has as a writer. I particularly loved a specific scene involving an inmate dying and the discovery of his body. It was a perfect scene and one that really was the tipping point for a lot of the actions that followed.
What I didn’t like: The biggest thing with ‘Tome‘ that I didn’t like was the complete disappearance of the town of ‘Juniper‘ itself. In book one, Ross developed such a fantastic town, filled with history, characters and an amazing setting, that I was excited to see more of it with this prequel, but sadly, the majority of the book is set inside the prison, with a few scenes outside. I hope with book three we find out more about the storm that arrived as well as the people of the town.
I do want to make a statement that within this book there are a number of racial issues/phrases/words used within the context of the prison setting. This was done really well and based on the characters and history of ‘Juniper,’ spot on. I had no issues with it when I read it, as it was done realistically.
Why you should buy it: Ross has really crafted a book here that is filled with growing dread. While I typically don’t enjoy prison-based stuff, this one really pulls you along and you just have to know what happens. This is also one of those rare books that you can read without having to have read ‘Juniper‘. Ross has really created a dynamic group of characters in a town that has a lot of secrets. I can’t wait to see just what book three has in store.
Another dark chapter in the history of Juniper unfolds…
Juniper Correctional, jokingly abbreviated to JC, a dark jewel in the crown of the godawful American prison system, where the very worst of Juniper rot for life-sentences that seem to stretch forever. In this hell-on-earth, it’s hard to tell most days who is worse: the inmates or the corrupt guards that enact the will of the monomaniacal Warden Fleming. Fleming is a fallen star, a once bright-minded leader who turned the prison around, now hiding a terrible secret eating him away from the inside, a secret he’ll do anything to cover up.
But Fleming has problems, problems that threaten to unveil his secret. There is killer among those housed at Juniper Correctional. Inmates keep turning up dead, murdered in ungodly ways, but nobody knows how or why. The only thing that connects them is a nameless book from the prison’s library. However, there is one ray of light: Frank.
Frank isn’t like the other guards. Frank still sees the good in people and is trying to make a difference, to save those souls he can from the darkness in their own hearts. What Frank doesn’t realise, however, is that the darkness is real, and he is about to see its true power…
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
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