‘Speaker Lenthall’s Tomb’ by M.R. James, completed by John Linwood Grant

“To Burford it was that Commons Speaker, Lenthall, retired: there he built his beautiful home, now almost a ruin, and there he died and was buried.”

I was not disappointed by the many classic M.R. Jamesian frissons that this story invoked and they felt, to me, perfectly formed as a gestalt that will remain haunting.  

And there was a feeling, too, that — as I have gradually been discovering while continuing to re-read MRJ’s works (here reading this one for the first time) and as I apply my gestalt-real-time reviewing process to them — literally preternatural forces become even more powerful, such as the connections that somehow MRJ provides into the future, some of which are beyond anything he could have intended … and the more we connect with him in this way, even more forces will surely accrue. 

Here I could not help but smile at the place name of Burford being related to a Commons Speaker, with its rough Bercow assonance, and for those who have ever seen cattle fords! And used three times in this work is the word ‘erection’ for the ugly monument to Speaker Lenthall in the St Mary’s  Church, that the young bumptious even rude  Harry Cave wishes to demolish as part of the Gothic revival, (and I was interested by what I read in this work and then researched for myself about Pugin et al.)

But I believe the women in this story are the stars of it, women who favour a different approach of preservation, one being Harry’s sister Mary who has the same name as this church which is local to Burford — and the other is the only Lenthall relative left alive, a feisty lady who is around 90 years old and beautifully characterised by this story, including her male-like voice and her rather thick white eyebrows later somehow resonating with a “white window blind” as part of the horrors summoned to punish Harry for commencing the monument’s destruction… and those horrors which I will not detail here are indeed wonderfully conjured up. 

And finally I will mention this work’s explicit reference to “female taste”…and the sentiment expressed of — ”Surely there may be beautiful things made in more styles than one.”


This story was first published earlier this year in GHOSTS & SCHOLARS #42

My other reviews of M.R. James: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/my-ongoing-reviews-of-m-r-james-stories/

My previous reviews of John Linwood Grant: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/john-linwood-grant/

Strange Tales: Tartarus Press at 30

Tartarus Press 2020

Edited by Rosalie Parker

My previous reviews of this publisher: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/r-b-russell-tartarus-press/

Stories by Rebecca Lloyd, Mark Valentine, Andrew Michael Hurley, N.A. Sulway, Stephen Volk, Inna Effress, Ibrahim R. Ineke, Eric Stener Carlson, Jonathan Preece, Tom Heaton, J.M. Walsh, Angela Slatter, John Gaskin, D.P. Watt, Karen Heuler, John Linwood Grant, Carly Holmes.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Best New Horror #29

A5F87919-199D-4D5A-9354-25D07C2D2A3FPS PUBLISHING 2019

Edited by Stephen Jones

My previous reviews of PS Publishing: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/ps-publishing/

Stories by Helen Marshall, Conrad Williams, Gemma Files, Alison Littlewood, John Linwood Grant, Richard Gavin, Simon Strantzas, Alison Moore, William F. Nolan, Angela Slatter, Danny Rhodes, Tim Lebbon, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Bailey, Mark Samuels, Felice Picano, Nicholas Royle, Reggie Oliver, Steve Rasnic Tem, Garth Nix, Thana Niveau.

Having had stories in three of the earlier issues in this series, I seem to have recently resisted purchasing Best New Horror books because the cover styles do not suit my tastes. And when there is a natural maximum capacity for my reading and reviewing, this has weighed in the balance, I guess. But I have now decided to take the plunge again…

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Test Patterns – Creature Features

Planet X Publications 2018

Edited by Duane Pesice

My previous review of Test Patterns: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/test-patterns/

Work by Michael Adams, Danger Slater, Cody Goodfellow, Erica Ruppert, Robert Guffey, Robert S. Wilson, Farah Rose Smith, James Fallweather, Ashley Dioses, James Russell, John Paul Fitch, Brenda Kezar, SL Edwards, Debra Robinson, Calvin Demmer, Kurt Fawver, Aaron French, Duane Pesice, Buzz Dixon, Natasha Bennett, Orrin Grey, Jill Hand, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Dominique Lamssies, Daniel Brock, Lana Cooper, John Linwood Grant, John Claude Smith, Aksel Dadswell, Jeffrey Thomas.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

Vastarien: Vol. 1, Issue 3

A Literary Journal, Grimscribe Press, Autumn 2018

My previous reviews of VASTARIEN here.

Jon Padgett, Editor in Chief.

Work by s.j. bagley, Kurt Fawver, F.J. Bergmann, S.T. Joshi, Michael Uhall, Brooke Warra, Rayna Waxhead, S.L. Edwards, Tonya Liburd, Sean M. Thompson, Desiree Zamarano, Michael Cisco, Emmie Bristow, L’Erin Ogle, Sam Schreiber, Dr. Raymond Thoss, John Linwood Grant.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below….