Friday, 27 February 2015

REVIEW: Jeremy Thompson - The Phantom Cabinet

Genre: SciFi / Horror
Publisher: Necro Publications
Publication Date: 15th Sept 2014
Pages: 245


A copy of The Phantom Cabinet was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Jeremy Thompson, in exchange for an honest review. This is it.

Jeremy Thompson? No idea? Nor had I before he sent me a copy of this to see if I would be interested in reading it for a review. At first I was a bit “meh”. Didn’t like the cover one bit and sort of went at it half-heartedly. Until, I actually started reading it. Once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

Frank Gordon is Commander on the Space Shuttle Conundrum. His crew are slowly dying in bizarre fashion, by their own hands. He has no idea where he is or what their mission was. He eventually gives in and joins his crew mates on the journey to “the other side”.

At exactly the same moment in time, in a hospital ward, a woman is in the final stages of labour. When her child is born she goes crazy and immediately tries to kill the little boy. He dies and remains dead for some time before miraculously coming back to life. The boy’s name is Douglas Stanton. Unbeknown to him, he is now the doorway to The Phantom Cabinet, a place where the dead live. As long as Douglas is alive, the doorway will remain open. There is only one way to close the door, but will Douglas be able to this before the ultimate evil can complete its plan to destroy the world?
Do you ever just take a chance on a new author? Sometimes when you do, it can be awful. Cringe worthy. Other times, like this one, it can prove to be one of the greatest decisions you could make. I had no idea about the author or the book in this case but given that Jeremy Thompson took the time to contact me about his book, I was duty bound to give the guy a chance and read what he had written. I wasn’t prepared for what I read!

I wasn’t prepared for the story. It starts off in space during a mission that is quite clearly going wrong. I don’t know if you play computer games but this opening scene was so atmospheric, I felt like I was in the middle of a mission on “Dead Space” or one of those games. When we get back to earth the sequence in the labour ward is horrific. You just can’t imagine a woman wanting to immediately kill her new born child and the way this is written confirms everything you would think about this. It does leave a bit of a bad taste in your mouth due to the graphic nature but it is not gratuitous in any way. If it’s possible to do, with a subject such as this, it is done in a tasteful way.

I wasn’t prepared for the ghosts in the story. There are lots of them. Some mean. Some funny in their own way. One is just pure evil.

I can’t tell you much more of the story without giving it away other than to say it follows Douglas throughout his life from a baby to his early twenties. It follows his constant battles with the spirits that haunt him non-stop and the relentless struggles he has trying to accept what he is, what he can see and hear, and what he must do to get by day to day. He is constantly bullied in school being called “Ghost Boy” and always seems to attract weirdness in his life that touches anyone that comes into contact with him. This ultimately leads to a lonely life with no one but himself and the spirits able to comprehend what he is going through.

The characters are nothing special, as in you don’t get a lot of detail about them. You don’t get long drawn out sequences learning about their pasts and building pictures of everything about them. You don’t need them. The information you have to go on with each individual is more than enough for the story to flow very nicely. There are a handful of what I would call “main” characters that appear throughout and then lots of little snippets featuring loads of other people that are short but very effective.

One thing that struck me from the very beginning in this book is the narrative. It is written in an old Victorian English style. I actually emailed Jeremy about a quarter of the way through this book to see if this was intentional or not and he confirmed for me that it was. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not full of thee and thus and words like that. It’s just proper English. It’s very reminiscent of Lovecraft or William Hope Hodgson using the gothic style of written word that would have been their natural writing style. It is interesting to see this sort of style in a modern day story but, I have to be perfectly honest, I absolutely loved it.

To summarise: this book was nothing like I expected it to be. Putting it quite simply, it’s superb. It’s a horror, with some parts not just scary but horrific. It’s full of ghosts and spirits and all things connected to the dead. It’s written in a style that you just don’t see from many authors today in using the olde worlde narrative. In some parts you will cringe. In others you will have a wry smile on your face. If you are like me, for the most part, you will not want to put this one down. Again, if you are like me, you will be watching out for the name Jeremy Thompson in the future.

General rating:

★★★★★ Absolutely loved it and it comes highly recommended.

Horror rating:

★★★★ This was verrrry creepy.

You can buy The Phantom Cabinet here:

Book Synopsis:

Space Shuttle Conundrum collides with empty atmosphere, passing from known reality into the realm beyond life. At the same time, a dead newborn is resurrected amidst a hospital-wide poltergeist infestation.

What connects these ghastly occurrences, and how can the fate of humanity rest on a single boy’s shoulders?

As the haunted Douglas Stanton spends his adolescence an outcast—his only friend the ghost of a long lost astronaut—a porcelain-masked entity lurks in the shadows, planning Douglas’ demise. Because Douglas is the key… the key to the door… a door between what we know and what we fear. And when the key is turned…realities will come crashing together.

When Heaven and Hell don’t exist…what does?

Step into The Phantom Cabinet…

Jeremy Thompson is a Southern California-based writer of horror, SF, thrillers and bizarro fiction. His bibliography includes The Phantom Cabinet, The Fetus and Other Stories, and Into the Darkness: Volume One's closing tale.

Jeremy’s author page can be found here.

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