BIBLIO LONGCROFTA by Simon Marshall-Jones, Tickety Boo Press, p/b £12.99, h/b £20.00, h/b wooden cover £75.00, Kindle £2.99, Website
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
This is a collection of short stories though the first eight stories form a loosely organised novel based in a fictional and fascinating town.
In the ‘Prologue’ Simeon arrives in Longcroft and we begin to see what an odd place it is.
‘The Black Ship’ docks at Longcroft harbour and takes away supernatural things that might be too dangerous for our world. A vague but enjoyable read.
‘When the Gods Meet’ is a comic tale about FGCon, a convention for forgotten gods. It’s highly engaging and told with wit and style.
‘Eros Arriving’ is a subtly erotic tale featuring a firebug wrangler, a librarian and a mysterious night-time visitor.
In ‘The City That Whispers’ Simeon is taken to the city of the dead underneath Longcroft.
‘The House of Glass Jars’ sees Simeon witnessing the conclusion of a love story that had begun hundreds of years before.
In ‘Godmachine Skies’, the longest chapter, things get more serious and Simeon has to save the world from some Lovecraftian dark gods.
The last of the Longcroft stories is called ‘Epilogue’, and is a nice and surprisingly sweet end to the saga.
This all makes for an engaging read, with a gentle and whimsical feel, even when the universe is about to end. I would read more stories set in Longcroft, if there are any.
The book concludes with two stand-alone stories, ‘Feather’ and ‘Leaves’. The quality of the prose drops a bit here (it’s rather flowery and over-written), as if these are older or in need of an edit. However, they are evocative and romantic. SMJ definitely likes happy endings.
Overall, an odd book that I rather enjoyed, despite its flaws.