Tome by Ross Jeffery
Published by The Writing Collective on October 20 2020
Genres: Horror
Pages: 289
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased Book
Buy on Amazon
five stars - Tome by Ross Jeffery | Book Review

Another dark chapter in the history of Juniper unfolds…

Juniper Correctional, jokingly abbreviated to JC, a dark jewel in the crown of the godawful American prison system, where the very worst of Juniper rot for life-sentences that seem to stretch forever. In this hell-on-earth, it’s hard to tell most days who is worse: the inmates or the corrupt guards that enact the will of the monomaniacal Chief Warden Fleming. Fleming is a fallen star, a once bright-minded leader who turned the prison around, now hiding a terrible secret eating him away from the inside, a secret he’ll do anything to cover up.

But Fleming has problems, problems that threaten to unveil his secret. There is killer among those housed at Juniper Correctional. Inmates keep turning up dead, murdered in ungodly ways, but nobody knows how or why. The only thing that connects them is a nameless book from the prison’s library.

However, there is one ray of light: Frank. Frank isn’t like the other guards. Frank still sees the good in people and is trying to make a difference, to save those souls he can from the darkness in their own hearts. What Frank doesn’t realise, however, is that the darkness is real, and he is about to see its true power…

Tome – its clarity was never more focused and established from the very first page.  Dark and depraved.  The story is multi-faceted as it strips the layers back of the human condition.  Boy does it show the human condition for what it truly is, hungry for power and destruction.  Tome is a story that examines many prejudices rife in not only America’s penial system.  Racial abuse, misogyny and homophobia feature strongly, and Jeffery has tackled the sensitive themes with both class and tenderness without skipping on the reality.  This novel is a highly intelligent and brutal story on multiple levels. 

Jeffery has birthed a new sub-genre of horror; he mixes realism with the palpitatingly dark.  The narrative doesn’t relinquish its hold on us for one moment, its spindly fingers choke the life out of you, its grip increasing under you are so far gone that you can’t help but consume its mastery. 

Juniper Correctional has turned into a cess pit of suffering and delinquency.  Prison life was never going to be easy, but someone for something is getting away with murder.  Imagine buildings that look run down, they look haunted…haunted with the misdeeds of its prisoners, haunted with the souls that are being taken too early.  There is nothing about Juniper Correctional that screams light, it is the darkness in spite of the light, only one person seems to chase that darkness away…Frank. 

Frank comes in does his job like everyone else but treats the inmates like actual people, funny notion, right?  He doesn’t treat them like the scum of the earth, despite the awful atrocities they have been convicted with.  He shares the halo, or the island in amongst the shit prison, located within an even shittier town.  The library, ah but once again the power of books and its ability to transport you away features heavily in Tome.  Franks suffered plenty in this cess pit of a town, he’s experienced racial hatred for marrying a black woman.  Its uncomfortable as all hell, but subjects like these HAVE to be.  If its not making you cringe, then you are part of the problem.  Jeffery has written a horror story with violence and gore, but he tells of the horrors that human are capable of committing, it’s a grim reality that is mortifying.

Jeffrey has created something quite unique here, he’s edgy, he’s got the biggest set of Kaunas for riding with this one, trusting his vision and pulling it off so brilliantly.  The destructive nature of a supernova.  The setting.  The protagonist.  The horror.  It tallied up to an experience to say the very least.  I felt the fear, I spent most of the novel feeling deeply unsettled.  Time has no consequence whilst I absorbed its power.  I don’t think I’ll ever read another book quite like it and that is a good thing because no-one come close.  A book Stephen King wishes he wrote…It’s that damn good.

Tome is a nerve jangling read with the pace and finesse of a master storyteller.  I should be kicking myself black and blue that I haven’t picked this up sooner.


img 8951 - Tome by Ross Jeffery | Book Review

Ross Jeffery is the author of Juniper, Tome & Tethered. A Bristol based writer and Executive Director of Books for STORGY Magazine. Ross has been published in print with with a number of anthologies. His work has also appeared in various online journals. Ross lives in Bristol with his wife (Anna) and two children (Eva and Sophie). You can follow him on Twitter here @Ross1982WEBSITE

His debut novella Juniper was published by The Writing Collective in January 2020 to much praise and is available from Amazon stores – click here. You can now also read his sequel / prequel Tome and his novella in flash Tethered – all available from Amazon.


five stars - Tome by Ross Jeffery | Book Review