Do you want the recipe for a truly frightening and horrific concoction? If so… start with one dash of a malevolent cell phone, followed by two scoops of a possessed stuffed dog. Add a pinch of a bus trip to Hell and a hefty serving of a demonic pen which can bring its heinous words to life. Mix everything together and bake at an infernal temperature. When fully cooked, remember to generously sprinkle some lingering gothic spices and get set to enjoy while watching a classic match of eerie football accompanied by screaming blues music playing in the background. Sound enticing? If so, John F. Leonard’s horror anthology, The Dead Boxes Archives, is a treat which simply cannot be missed!

Essentially, the anthology contains 7 main short stories. Each are unique and distinctly creepy in their own right. We have “Doggem”… which follows a stuffed classroom toy on its travels to the homes of various Kindergarten students… revealing unthinkable dark family secrets along the way. There is “A Plague of Pages” which leaves no doubt as to how deadly and wicked the writer’s pen can truly be. Those looking to escape the usual routine of their humdrum life may want to look into “Night Service”. A bus ride unlike all others! Perhaps my own personal favorite story was “Linger”. This tale brings whole new meanings to the words cruelty and malicious.

I have perused the work of John F. Leonard before. Indeed, a few years ago I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing “Call Drops”. What I said at that time in regards to his writing, still stands today. He is an author who knows his craft exceptionally well. He understands that the horror genre is not just about gore, or blood and guts. While that may actually take place in his work, it is not included for its own sake. Instead, Leonard uses the key elements of horror, such as suspense and fear, to make his mark. It is all about getting deep into the human psyche and then slapping us in the face with the results. Add to this his own unique blend of dark humor and wit… and we have a winner!

While John F. Leonard presents captivating and enthralling storylines- he also has the savvy ability to create believable and memorable characters. In every story there are main characters who are so flawed that we should really be grateful for any ill that falls their way. Instead, we are able to empathize with these miscreants. Could it be that there is something in them that we recognize? Hmmm? Perhaps deep down within ourselves? To be able to sympathize with characters such as these is a testament to some seriously good writing!

I would give The Dead Boxes Archives my highest recommendation to all adult readers. However, do yourself a favor and keep the lights on while you read it.

5 out of 5 Lingering stars for this one!