The Dead Boxes Archive was provided for me by John F. Leonard as part of a collaboration between Rosie Amber Reviews and the EN1103 Problems in Literature course at University College Cork. This review first appeared on Rosie Amber Reviews Dec. 7, 2021. You can purchase The Dead Boxes Archive here.
Words be quick
Words resemble walking sticks
Plant them they will grow
Watch them waver so
I’ll always be a word man
Better than a bird man
- Jim Morrison, “Curses, Invocations”
Per his end of collection “Author’s Note” Leonard “believe[s] a story, even a short one, deserves some sort of prelude. Something to ease the reader into what will hopefully be a memorable and enjoyable experience.” Taking my lead from him, this review (short as it is) gets a snippet of Morrison, a personal favourite when it comes to poetry and performance, and a soul that might just be twisted enough to mesh with Leonard’s personal brand of irony and horror. Of course, the above-mentioned author’s note is itself just the prelude to one final entry into The Dead Boxes Archive, one last story about deals struck, promises made, and promises kept in the most perverse ways possible.
I have a feeling Morrison might have appreciated that too, but let’s not make this a complete digression into dead rockers and the hauntings they left behind.
John Leonard’s The Dead Boxes Archive is a series of loosely connected stories, most centering on a “dead box”, objects of eldritch power that give and takes with a set of unbalanced scales. Whether the box is stadium shaped, a township that sits just off kilter from our dimension, or a pen that is indeed mightier than the sword, Leonard’s boxes haunt both the owners who hold them and the readers who watch this unfold. Each story is a realm unto itself, but those looking for connective tissue beyond the general theme of cursed objects acting like cursed objects, will find a deeper plot echoing across the background of Leonard’s tormented landscape. Are the end times nigh? Haunted cults and beings from another realm afoot? Or merely a presence from the past lingering will into the here and now? Bate your breath and batten down the hatches, a phone with not guts is ringing and a pen with no ink is writing this story— The Dead Boxes Archive awaits you.