John Brhel and J. Sullivan's Marvelry's Curiosity Shop was published by Cemetery Gates Media in July 2016.
Information about the publisher:
Cemetery Gates Media is a horror-fantasy fiction publisher from Binghamton, N.Y., founded by long-time friends John Brhel and J. Sullivan.
Information about the authors:
John Brhel is a horror writer from upstate New York. His work has appeared in "The Vault of Ghastly Tales." He is the co-author of "Tales From Valleyview Cemetery"." He blogs at http://cemeterygatesmedia.tumblr.com. His Twitter handle is @JohnBrhel.
Joseph Sullivan is a writer of horror tales (Tales from Valleyview Cemetery), occult fantasy (Marvelry's Curiosity Shop), explorer of urban legend (upcoming Route 12: The Legend Trip) hiker, songwriter, and co-founder of Cemetery Gates Media. His long-term writing goal is to combine his love of poetry, the American novel, and Upstate New York into one cohesive work of fiction.
Information about Marvelry's Curiosity Shop:
Retired stage magician Dr. Marvelry prefers to stock his antique store with strange and occult items. He has always enjoyed meeting odd people and hearing their stories, the legends attached to mysterious objects. A phonograph that seemingly replays a tragedy. Fertility dolls that are more than decoration. A bedeviled mannequin. These are just some of the relics this eccentric shopkeeper has collected over the years.
No two customers will have the same experience in his curiosity shop - some walk away satisfied, others are never heard from again. But one thing is certain - when you purchase an item at this store, you often get more than what you paid for.
Follow Marvelry and his hexed objects through twelve tales of suspense, magic, terror, and transformation. Meet his new assistant, fellow illusionists, and some irregular characters along the way. Whatever macabre artifact of the human psyche you're seeking - you'll find something special in Marvelry's Curiosity Shop.
A REVIEW OF JOHN BRHEL AND J. SULLIVAN'S MARVELRY'S CURIOSITY SHOP
John Brhel and J. Sullivan's Marvelry's Curiosity Shop is a delightful combination of fantasy, dark fantasy and horror elements. It's a book that consists of twelve episodes featuring different strange and occult items. Each of the episodes can be read separately, but together they form a highly entertaining and enjoyable narrative and you can see how they interlink with each other.
Marvelry's Curiosity Shop was a very pleasant surprise for me. When I began to read it, I found myself being intrigued by the episodes and enjoyed the vivid prose. It was evident to me that the authors had clearly written this book out of love for storytelling and old-fashioned horror fiction, because it was excellent entertainment.
Marvelry's Curiosity Shop is a welcome addition to the horror fiction genre, because it's a charmingly old-fashioned yet modern horror book. There's something about it that has a bit of a 1980s feel to it.
This book contains these episodes:
- The Victor Talking Machine
- Echo’s Reflection
- Magician’s Complex
- The Painter’s Premonition
- A Gift Ungiven
- A Made Match
- The Letterbox
- Seams of Consequence
- Martinus’ Mannequin
- Siren Song
- The New Assistant
- Grand Illusions
Each of these episodes tells about a different item from Dr. Marvelry's shop and how it affects the customers who try to use them. What happens to the customers is both chilling and entertaining, because their fates vary a lot depending on what they do and how they react to what is happening.
This book starts with the story 'The Victor Talking Machine', which introduces Dr. Marvelry and his curiosity shop to readers. It's a story about a newly married couple, Brent and Kevin Buckley, who are beginning to decorate their home. They visit Dr. Marvelry's shop and become fascinated by an old phonograph. They decide to buy it and take it home. When Kevin begins to listen to the record, he hears something strange and is surprised and frightened by it... I won't go into more details about the happenings, but I can mention that what is revealed about the phonograph is intriguing.
'Echo’s Reflection' is a fascinating story about Echo Dollinger whose relationship with Robert Simmons is put to test when they buy a bathroom mirror. The ending of this story is memorable.
I found it interesting that the authors wrote about a Marvelry devotee and a magician called Peter Myers in 'Magician’s Complex'. The meeting between the two magicians was handled well, because it was fun to read what Dr. Marvelry thought about Peter's abilities. 'Grand Illusions' also features another magician (an illusionist called Nick Nickleby) and the authors write well about him, but I won't reveal what happens in this story, because I don't want to write spoilers. I'll only mention that it's a fantastic final episode.
The authors have come up with a diverse cast of characters ranging from an anthropology student and a struggling professional musician to a magician and a newly married gay couple. This diversity allows the authors to explore various themes and issues in an exciting way. It was fascinating for me to read about the characters, because they had different motives for buying the items.
Dr. Julian Marvelry is an interesting character, because he's a retired stage magician who likes to collect curious objects from strange, storied people and locations. Collecting items used to be his hobby, but he decided to turn it into business, because the increase in competition forced him to adapt to changes. He has many strange items in his shop. His assistant, Drew Hysell, is also an interesting character, because he's a student who has purchased magic books and tricks from Dr. Marvelry prior to becoming his assistant.
One of the best things about this book is that the authors write vivid and descriptive prose. Because I've always like fluently written descriptive prose, I instantly liked the authors' writing style. I like the way they write about the characters and their lives, because each of the characters has a different fate.
There have been a few books about strange and occult items, but this book stands out among other novels of its kind by being a highly entertaining and well written collection of interlinking episodes. This book has faint echoes of Stephen King's Needful Things and the TV series called Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990), but it's different from them.
The cover illustration by Ben Baldwin looks great. He has painted an atmospheric and inviting cover image that awakens the reader's interest towards the book.
I give Marvelry's Curiosity Shop full five stars on the scale from one to five stars. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of dark fantasy and horror fiction, because it's been a while since I've read anything as good and entertaining as it. Please, invest a bit of time into reading this book and let it cast its spell upon you, because a marvellous feast of fantastic storytelling awaits you when you open its covers.
My final words are:
This book is excellent and thrilling entertainment!