John F Leonard’s latest offering once again showcases this man’s talent at constructing a terrifying, yet realistic story. His novel, Bad Pennies was one of my favourite reads last year, and I’m pleased to say, he’s done it again.
There’s a common theme in Leonard’s work; everyday items that possess strange, other-worldly powers. In Bad Pennies we had a wallet that automatically filled with money, a sentient stuffed toy stared in Doggem, Call Drops featured a phone that held secret information, and now we have A Plague of Pages where the supernatural force resides in…………… drum roll please…………. a pen!
OK, so you may have been expecting something more grand there, my apologies. But this pen has the ability to work wonders with the words it writes. Terrible and weird wonders.
Anthony, to put it extremely mildly, is down on his luck. His wife’s left him (for his best friend, no less) and he feels totally alone in life. The daily routine is bringing him down, and the booze isn’t really helping either. So Anthony decides to give writing a go. It’s something he’s never considered doing before, but thinks what the hell, what’s the worst that can happen?
Ahem, if only he could imagine.
His father left Anthony this creepy yet expertly crafted pen when he died. The pen sat in an equally creepy box for years, until Anthony decided to give this writing thing a go. So after an evening of depression and having to deal with the annoying-but-her-heart’s-in-the-right-place neighbour, he gets out his pen, some ‘normal’ paper, and writes a story.
And then things take a decidedly dark twist. You see, this power I was talking about that is yielded in this pen, has the ability to make the story Anthony writes come true. Writing about the death of your ex-wife is something many divorcees may consider (I assume, I’ve never been divorced, see?). I suppose Anthony would look back at the words he wrote in anger as just trying to get something off his chest, exacting revenge on his ex-wife and ex-best mate in a safe, yet horrific way. Except this isn’t safe, oh no. This is now horrific reality.
Yet Anthony is compelled to write another story with this freaky pen. Another story is written, another tragic event mirrors the words. Creepy stuff indeed.
Eventually, through news reports he sees and, to the untrained eye, an innocuous experiment he tries with his writing, Anthony finally realises what is happening. He begins to panic, well duh!
As the story progresses Anthony learns more about this pen; where it came from, who owned it before him, how another wants it for himself. Oh how I rejoiced when I read the word Scaeth. The Scaeth mythos was an integral part of the aforementioned Bad Pennies, and I’ve got a feeling this whole thing is going to be big in future works. Supernatural entities, alternate dimensions of unimaginable horror; these things are the way of the Scaeth.
As we reach the conclusion, Anthony is really losing his shit and needs to do something to rid himself of this curse. But can he? Is it too late?
Well, you’ll have to read for yourself to find out.
This was a superb story that demanded my time, which I certainly had no problem in offering up. I just hope that John F Leonard wrote this on a good old computer, and not with some ancient mystical pen. Because if he chose the hand-written format, I’m bloody scared now!
Categories: book review