By: John F. Leonard

What actually makes a great horror story?  This seems like such a simple question, but in reality it is quite complex.  Great horror writing does much more than simply scare or terrify the reader.  Indeed, it will include elements such as mystery, suspense, fear, foreshadowing and a plot which will really make the reader think!  To add to all of these, the story has to have strong, yet tragic characters, as well as a perfectly outlined setting which will set the mood for the tale.  Otherwise, all you are really left with is a “gory story.”  There is little doubt that writing a great horror story is no easy job.  However, in his work, Call Drops, John F. Leonard capably accomplishes this task.  He manages to aptly capture all the elements of a great horror story which in turn explore the deepest depths of human psychology.

The secret of any good review is to adequately explore a work without giving too much of the plot away.  Otherwise, you remove all the elements which the author relies upon.  As such, this brief plot synopsis should provide enough information to capture the true essence of this novella.

The story focuses upon multimillionaire, Vincent Preece, who has built his fortune in the mobile phone industry.  At the outset of the tale he is drawn to and subsequently purchases an old style cell phone at a sale.  There is nothing particularly thrilling about that.  However, when he arrives home the phone mysteriously activates and begins sending Preece some very disturbing messages which he is forced to investigate.  Where are these messages coming from?  Are they actually real?  As the story unfolds, the truly dark and horrifying answers to these questions begin to unravel.

Before I began reading this book I did have my doubts as to whether I could truly become engaged in it.  It is a short horror novella and I tend to enjoy longer stories to become fully engrossed in the work.  This was not the case with this tale.  I read it in one sitting and was entranced with its dark, disturbing and macabre progression.  There was not a awful lot of time given to character development, but in this case it was not really needed.  The author very effectively used all the core elements of the horror genre, such as fear and foreshadowing, to really draw in the reader.  Add a pinch of disgust and you have a truly gripping tale.  Also, while character development is not a key part of this novella, the author manages to slowly unveil Preece’s dark traits as the story progresses.  What is quite surprising is that as a reader you are able to sympathize and become revolted by Preece at the same time.  I did not expect to identify with this character, but in some ways I did!  John F. Leonard does a fantastic job at dipping into the darker side of human psychology and pulling out some very disturbing nuggets of truth.

As mentioned, there are some very disturbing scenes in this horror novella.  As such I would only recommend it from a young adult crowd and up.  For those who are fans of the horror genre…or just like great writing…this will be right up your alley.

5 gruesome stars for this one!   *****