Simon Marshall-Jones' Biblia Longcrofta was published by Tickety Boo Press Ltd in August 2015.

Information about Simon Marshall-Jones:

Simon Marshall-Jones (aka The Tattooed Head) is editor/publisher at award-nominated Spectral Press, Theatrum Mundi, and rEvolution SF, a writer, reviewer, columnist, and blogger: a book lover, of course, but also likes French cheeses  and wines rather too much, as well as rum, a collector of vintage commercial vehicle magazines, and is heavily covered in tattoos. He lives with a wife, six cats, six guinea-pigs, five chickens, and two rabbits (but no partridge in a pear tree) somewhere in the Midlands, UK.

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Information about Biblia Longcrofta:

Biblia Longcrofta is a series of connected short fiction stories, semi-autobiographical in nature, set in the imaginary town of Longcroft. Although it has no precise geographical location in the 'real' world, nevertheless it is located somewhere on the northern coastline of Britain. It exists contemporaneously and separately in a different time stream from the rest of the world, the reasons for the split lost in the mists of time.

It is no ordinary town, however – here miracles happen on an everyday basis, and the numinous and marvellous sit side-by-side with the banal and mundane. Into this wonderland comes a tattooed stranger called Simeon, a man bored of his old life, but still unsure of what his place in the world is, who he is, and what purpose he has. Through a series of connected incidents, he comes to understand the world around him, and the person he is. Along the way he meets wonders and living myths and, through interacting with them, he finds his true destiny – however, it's not what he was expecting nor what he would have chosen for himself.

A REVIEW OF SIMON MARSHALL-JONES' BIBLIA LONGCROFTA

Are you prepared to experience an unforgettable journey into an imaginary town full of miracles and wonders? Do you want to read something unique and unexpected? If you answered "yes" to both of these questions, you have just found a perfect book for yourself.

Simon Marshall-Jones' Biblia Longcrofta was an enjoyable reading experience for me. It's one of the freshest and most original short story collections of the year, because it's a gorgeous display of uninhibited imagination and good storytelling. It tells the wondrous story of Simeon who arrives in the mysterious town of Longcroft.

I was impressed by this short story collection, because it was everything I hoped it would be. It's an original and deeply satisfying blend of different elements. Its contents range all the way from fantasy and science fiction to horror and weird fiction. It's new weirdish adult fantasy at its best and most inventive.

Biblia Longcrofta has an interesting structure, because it contains connected short stories that are semi-biographical in nature. The author focuses on writing about Simeon and his explorations of the city. He gradually reveals information about the imaginary town as Simeon learns new things about the town's stunning wonders.

Biblia Longcrofta contains the following stories:

- Prologue
- The Black Ship
- When the Gods Meet
- Eros Arriving
- The City that Whispered
- The House of Glass Jars
- Godmachine Skies
- Epilogue
- Feathers
- Leaves

These amazing stories will astound you with their originality. All of them demonstrate the author's love for writing and his enthusiasm to create something that will entertain his readers.

Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:

Prologue:
- The tattooed protagonist arrives into Longcroft aboard the Dreamline Express and is a bit lost.
- A well written prologue.

The Black Ship:
- In this story, the protagonist has been six months in Longcroft. He sees how the monolithic Black Ship comes to the dock area and sees its mysterious crew. The ship delivers something to Longcroft. The protagonist meets the Warehouse Guardian.
- An excellent story that reveals new information about such things as The Holy Grail and Angels.

When the Gods Meet:
- The protagonist works in the library and gets to organise a Forgotten Gods Convention. He visits Babel and meets The Co-ordinator. He witnesses what can happen when the gods meet each other.
- This is a wonderfully written story about what happens when different deities socialise together.
- It was fun to read about the banned gods (Cthulhu etc) who were not allowed to attend the convention.

Eros Arriving:
- In this story, the protagonist is going home and thinks that he is being followed. It is the first time that he is frightened. He soon learns that he was followed by something strange and unexpected.
- This is a beautifully written story with a fascinating twist.

The City that Whispered:
- The protagonist, Simeon, is told about the dead who want to be represented on the Town Council. His new friend takes him to an intriguing place in Longcroft. The place he is taken to is huge and has a culture of its own.
- I enjoyed reading about the place that Simeon was taken to, because there was something in it that reminded a bit of Midian in Clive Barker's "Cabal".
- This is amazing story with an excellent atmosphere.

The House of Glass Jars:
- In this story, The Co-ordinator offers to show Simeon more of Longcroft and its secrets. The Co-ordinator wants to redeem himself and has chosen Simeon to be his witness.
- It was interesting to read about what kind of secrets were revealed to Simeon.
- This is a beautifully written and impressively told story.

Godmachine Skies:
- This is a story in which the existence of Longcroft and the universe is in dire peril. Simeon finds out the reason why he arrived in Longcroft. He also finds out that he is about to be transformed in an unexpected way.
- An excellent story with a perfect ending.

Epilogue:
- This is a well written epilogue to the Longcroft stories.

The bonus stories, Feathers and Leaves, are beautifully written standalone stories. Feathers is a story about a man who wakes up and finds a single white feather on the bed linen. Leaves is an excellent and atmospheric final story (I enjoyed reading it). I won't reveal more information about these fantastic stories, but I'll mention that both of them deserve to be read.

The tattooed Simeon is an interesting protagonist. He has employed himself as a singer/guitarist and has dreamed of becoming famous. He is bored of his old life, but doesn't quite fathom what his place in the world is. He finds Longcroft fascinating and is eager to know more about it and its wonders. As he finds out more things about Longcroft he also finds himself and learns why he came to Longcroft.

Longcroft is a fascinatingly different kind of a town. It exists within a different time stream to everywhere else around it. It's inhabited by people and different beings, including gods, living statues and the dead people. It's a place where miraculous things happen and where you can always find new wonders to explore, because you never know what you may find when you explore the different places.

Simon Marshall-Jones combines mythology, speculative fiction and literary fiction in a beautiful way. I have to admit that I was very impressed by his imagination and creativity, because he seems to approach speculative fiction and mythology in a fresh and original way. He writes fluently about different deities and beliefs, and shows his readers wondrous sights that are not easily forgotten.

I was pleasantly surprised by the author's prose, because he writes good and descriptive prose that fits the stories perfectly. His descriptions of the places and the characters are beautiful and wonderfully vibrant. He also knows how to add a bit of humour to his stories.

One of the best things about this collection is that Simon Marshall-Jones avoids using clichés. There's nothing clichéd about this collection, because the author has created a town in which many wonders exist side-by-side and where marvellous and mysterious things happen. I can honestly say that I don't remember reading anything like this ever before and that's a good thing. I've read similar kind of stories about imaginary towns, but this collection has that special something in it that makes it a unique reading experience.

There was something in these stories that reminded me slightly of the stories and novels written by Clive Barker, Rjurik Davidson, Jeff VanderMeer, Anthony Huso, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Lucius Shepard and Neil Gaiman. The author's creativity and sense of style rivals everything that these authors have written and even surpasses some of their works.

The cover image by Jim Burns looks beautiful and fits this collection perfectly. It's a painting of Simeon and the enigmatic Black Ship.

Biblia Longcrofta is a collection that everybody must experience personally. It's slightly difficult to describe all of its beauty and originality with words, because much of its charm comes from the mysterious atmosphere the author has created. I can assure you that you'll be pleasantly surprised by these stories when you begin to read them.

I sincerely hope that Simon Marshall-Jones will continue to write more stories about Longcroft, because he has created something unique that deserves to be explored further. I also hope that he writes more stories like Feathers and Leaves, because they're excellent and feature beautiful prose.

Simon Marshall-Jones' Biblia Longcrofta demonstrates that you can accomplish great things when you put your heart and mind to the writing process and settle for nothing less than the best. It's an unforgettable glimpse into an imaginary town where almost anything is possible and where countless wonders can be experienced.

This short story collection is a beautifully written collection that is something different and unique. It's pure delight for readers who want good storytelling, freshness and style from their speculative fiction. It's an astonishing achievement that should be read by all who enjoy original speculative fiction.

Highly recommended!

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