There are many places in fiction that stay with the reader long after the story is finished - Gormenghast Castle, The Shire, Narnia and suchlike. Well, you're going to be adding Longcroft to that list in the very near future, a remarkable creation from Simon Marshall-Jones (SMJ). Longcroft is a city that may well exist in a parallel universe (there is an explanation of just where it is and how it works but I'll leave the fun of finding out to you). It is one of those places where you never know what is round the corner, anything could happen and probably will.
Biblia Loncrofta consists of 6 short stories set in Longcroft and 2 slightly longer stories set in our world that stand alone. The 6 Longcroft stories are interweaving tales that can also be read as a single story. The tales tell of Simeon, a tattooed wanderer who arrives in Longcroft with not much memory of his journey, the people and creatures he meets (and oh, believe me, there are some wonderful creations here - my favourites being the Sisters of the Hooks) and the fantastic city of Longcroft, in a mixture of Sci-Fi, horror, fantasy and metaphysics. I am loathe to say much more, you really need to read this yourself.
After the Longcroft stories we have the two stand alone stories, 'Feathers' and 'Leaves'. I thought SMJ might have peaked at this point (the Longcroft stories really are that good) - I was wrong. These may be even better.
Feathers is the tale of a man who wakes to find a feather on his pillow. A tale of 3 parts, the first half tells, alternately of what is happening 'now' and how he got to 'now', the second part is..........oh, you don't really think I'm going to spoil it for you do you?
And what can I tell you about the final story in this gem of a collection? Suffice to say this is a story that may well break your heart. A beautiful end to a wonderful collection.
Now, normally I'd be finished about here but not today. Today I have to take a bit of time to mention the writing style of SMJ. Now, I've known SMJ for a few years through Facebook and his (rather excellent) Spectral Press. I knew he could write but I didn't know he could write this well (to be honest I didn't know anyone could. The style and choice of words is wonderful, the images those words produce are vivid mind pictures worthy of the glorious story they tell. It is the literary equivalent of a 3 Michelin Starred chef cooked meal where the words are not so much written as caressed onto the page and from the page into your mind where they will stay for a long, long time.
Reading Biblia Longcrofta has been an absolute joy and I look forward to the day that SMJ and the publishers Ticketyboo Press announce a second volume.
Under normal circumstances I would have given this 10/10 stars but, to paraphrase Gary Compton "my blog, my rules" - so, and this may be a first on this blog............