A Penny Down The Well by J.A Crook.
Welcome to your first look at J.A Crook’s new release, A Penny Down The Well. During this post you will find an excerpt from the book, a note from the author and my review. If you have any questions you would like to ask Mr Crook after reading this please comment on the post and I will see if I can put together a Q&A post with him for you to get your questions answered.
Excerpt from “The Wheezing Man” – Slowly the sound of their cries began to fade, as if muffled by the covering hands of the fog, or absorbed by something much worse. A different sound replaced those cries, a creeping, guttural noise that rose from the belly of the beast beyond the stranded family. The creature’s eyes began to stretch downward, elongated into two ovals that were both blackened pits of madness. The greater the sockets stretched, the more the figure’s greenish, decayed flesh ripped and rippled, and eventually the two eyes tore the separating flesh between them, creating a single, large, dark void that grew and consumed the entirety of the figures face. The body of the creature shook and twitched, with sharp spasms pulling its shoulders back. The hole in the creature’s head grew, and huge rows of squared teeth began to line the conjoined sockets, making it into more of a violent, hungering maw. Larger and larger it grew, the head of the figure stretching, its jaw elongating to its chest, then to its waist and eventually until its chin hung from its head to the ground. Then, with a pit of a mouth the size of a person, the mouth expanded horizontally, each violent tear and rip, each vibrating, deep groan and breath as clear to those inside of the post office as if it were being grunted against their very ears. And when the mouth of the figure was but an unnatural hole to oblivion, the sound stopped and the entire family turned with tear-filled eyes to those inside.
Note from the Author: Horror is an emotion and that makes it quite different than other genres of literature. It’s the humanness about horror that makes it most attractive. We all experience something in our lives that scares, thrills or threatens us, either by shock, atmosphere or subjection to the unknown. One thing that we can be certain of is that horror is something that we all share. A Penny Down the Well: A Short Story Collection of Horrifying Events is designed of an accessible, clear prose, focused on turning events that we experience in our everyday lives into something dramatically more twisted and profound. How quickly can the freshness of a new apartment be marred by the discovery of its dark secrets? When can a simple wish turn into an unexpected revenge that spins out of control? When can a new job develop requirements that are outright terrifying? We all take things for granted, say to ourselves that “these things will never happen to me” and yet, as we all share the universal emotion of horror, we all share a place on the proverbial dartboard, where life is busy tossing darts our way. Eventually, and almost certainly, we can expect we’ll be the mark. I do hope all of you enjoy the stories in A Penny Down the Well.
So, what did I think of A Penny Down The Well? I think it’s good, it’s a nice, well written, clear book and it does everything that the author wanted it to do. It opens itself up to a wider audience than Crook’s previous work did and the stories are longer in this book too.
I’ve been lucky enough to get an early preview of this book and as such there will be stories in the published version which have not yet become available to reviewers. This is something I like about getting a sneak preview, I get to test drive it, offer opinions along the way and then I still get a surprise when it’s published because there’s always going to bits of it which I haven’t read yet.
Crook starts off with a story called “Down the Drain”, it’s a simple concept of a new apartment and how quickly the freshness can be tainted by learning the dark secrets of the place. It’s also a fantastic play on those little noises we hear coming from our drains from time to time and I think it’s a great story to start the book on, the book then carries on from there with a collection of brilliant horror pieces. I won’t go into the plot of all the stories because Crook’s books have to be seen and I believe they are worth reading rather than reading all the spoilers.
If you enjoyed Amid the Recesses, give this book a go. As I’ve said before Crook is a rising star in today’s horror world as things begin to get very same-y and mainstream. It’s nice to find authors who are willing to test the waters and go their own way. I personally prefer Amid the Recesses purely for it’s style. The stories are more concise and artistic, challenging the reader whilst still pushing in bits of imagery and being overall pretty creepy. That’s not to say this one isn’t written well because it is! It’s just a much clearer style of writing and it opens itself up to a much wider audience, meaning that people that are not so keen on Crook’s more complex creativity can enjoy a more accessible creative work.
Well done to Mr Crook on another great release.