{Book Review} Congeal: John F. Leonard

Congeal: John F. Leonard

Reviewed By Steve Stred

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (27 Jun. 2019)

John F. Leonard has quickly become one of my go-to authors. He puts out quality releases and his interconnected Scaeth Mythos he’s developed have always been fun. Saying that – I still haven’t read Bad Pennies, the origin tale of all the books I’ve read since. This is something I really need to fix.

Congeal is both a standalone story but also a follow up to The Bledbrooke Works.

I enjoyed this subtle nod to the ongoing apocalyptic story that John has developed, but I also enjoyed the afterword where he discusses that this could simply be one trajectory that occurs. A fascinating idea.

Overall I enjoyed this story. Post-apocalyptic stuff is hard for me to enjoy lately. I think The Walking Dead really crushed my enjoyment of it but Leonard actually asked some of the questions real folks would ask; “What happens when we run out of toilet paper? Or out of food? Nobody is producing any more, nothing is being bottled, and it’s not like we can Google instructions or search the internet for how to do the stuff we’ve never been taught.”

That has been my ongoing issue with a lot of post-apocalyptic stuff and I’m glad to see it written down like this for once. Now, don’t get me wrong, Congeal is still post-apoc through and through.

The story picks up just after the incident alluded to in ‘The Bledbrooke Works.’ We are introduced to Amelia and follow her from the beginning to the end of the story.

The Clag as it’s become known is a gelatinous blob that is all-consuming and as the reports start to come out, many people are in disbelief. Believing this to be a made-up news story or a practical joke. Soon though, as everyone becomes impacted by the ‘thing’ they start to believe. Leonard does a great job of helping us feel that sense of unease growing and then when reality hits we are thrust into some great action.

The ending of the story is a great think point, one that is nicely set up and I was glad to read that afterword. Originally I was going to rate this book 4 out of 5, simply because I felt John had written himself into a corner and there wasn’t anywhere to go from here. Another post-apoc tale told and man has reached his ending, but that small sliver of opening added at the end that he tucked in was well played and let me see the story breathe at the end.

I’m excited to see what John comes up with next and as I wrote in my last review of one of his books, I really do need to read Bad Pennies!

Star Rating (out of 5): 4.5*


It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.

It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.

CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect. Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.

You can buy Congeal from Amazon UK & Amazon US

You can read an exciting excerpt from Congeal here

Steve Stred

Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak 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, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.

On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

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 Stranger

Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?

Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.

Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?

But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.

While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.

The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.

The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.

Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.



Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.

But what if it’s not…

What if there is something out there?

The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”

With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.

Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.

Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…



The Stranger. 

You can buy The Stranger from Amazon UK Amazon US

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